Renewed Engagement Across All Sectors Crucial to Realizing Sustainable Development Goals, Speakers Tell Economic and Social Council Partnership Forum
Renewed broad-based engagement, reinvigorated political commitment and revitalized partnership across all sectors of society are needed to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and realize the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, speakers told the Economic and Social Council today at its annual Partnership Forum.
Lachezara Stoeva (Bulgaria), President of the Economic and Social Council, stressed that the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, war in Ukraine, conflicts and humanitarian and planetary challenges are re-opening deep-seated scars and fragilities while compounding the inequalities between and within countries. The 2030 Agenda, Addis Ababa Action Agenda, Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Paris Agreement on climate change remain the best tools to overcome impediments, reduce risks and forge a better future defined by peace, equity and sustainability, she said.
Through unprecedented, bold global partnership, the international community must radically raise its ambitions, reverse extreme poverty, relieve debt burdens and render its harmonized support to people and communities at risk of being left behind, she stressed. For their part, Governments must not only ensure the active participation of all stakeholders, but also leverage their knowledge and resources to truly foster transformative, game-changing partnerships. With the half-way point of the 2030 Agenda only seven months away, the Partnership Forum provides the first opportunity to rally all partners; hear all voices and views; and put the world back on track for people, planet and peace, she pointed out.
Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, in a pre-recorded message, also underscored that 2023 is a pivotal year for the 2030 Agenda, urging the international community to wake up to the current existential moment. While all must rise up to this historic occasion and the opportunity presented by energy, food, digital and social transitions, success can only be possible if everyone works together and if key partners demonstrate the necessary leadership, ambition and action, she emphasized.
Against this backdrop, she called for young people to steer new, creative and bold solutions to stubborn, old challenges and for local authorities to move to the centre stage of the effort to rescue the Sustainable Development Goals. Among other things, she urged the international community to ensure that future breakthroughs can reach everyone, everywhere, by strengthening collaboration with the scientific community. Facing a choice between breakdown and breakthrough, the world must unite to put the Global Goals back on track and ensure a life of dignity and opportunity on a safe and healthy planet for all, she insisted.
In the ensuing dialogue, nearly 50 speakers from Member States, United Nations entities, civil society organizations, academia and the private sector answered these calls by sharing innovated strategies and suggestions on partnerships, with many spotlighting their own experiences and others identifying notable challenges and barriers.
Speaking for the African Group, the representative of Senegal noted that Africa will have the world’s largest and most youthful workforce by 2050. Deliberate policy strategies, as well as inclusive, transparent and accountable multi-stakeholder partnerships, are needed, he stressed. Since knowledge-sharing is crucial to these partnerships, there must also be enhanced linkages, capacity-building platforms, inclusive efforts, a clear division of labour among United Nations entities and measurable indicators to track progress, he added.
Such partnerships, India’s delegate advocated, must bridge divides, be context-specific and embrace reforms to ensure that the voices of the Global South are reflected at the decision-making table. As a more democratic and equitable world can only be built on greater diversification and the localization of capabilities, these partnerships must not be driven by demands imposed on others.
The representative of Samoa, speaking for the Alliance of Small Island States, highlighted the “Small Island Developing States Accelerated Modalities of Action” — or SAMOA Pathway — and its resulting partnerships as a notable example. Insufficient sustainable finance and the lack of enabling environments and conditions, among others, however, continue to inhibit the successful implementation of those partnerships, she said.
The representative of Sweden, speaking for the European Union, spotlighted that issue as well and urged the international community to act on its commitment to reach the furthest behind first by supporting least developed countries and providing more financing for sustainable development.
On that point, the representative of the International Development Law Organization also shared strategies, detailing efforts addressing the rule of law, corruption, transparency and accountability through an international investment support programme for least developed countries — which has received support from multilateral and bilateral partners.
Pakistan’s speaker suggested establishing a multilateral mechanism for the sustainable management of sovereign debt, creating mechanisms to lower borrowing costs for developing countries and restructuring of the international trading system to revive export-led growth in those countries. The poorest and most vulnerable will require additional fiscal space to redress health emergencies, revive economic growth and combat climate change, she explained.
The representative of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), stressing the need for person-centred solutions amidst a difficult policy environment, underlined the importance of strengthening the debt architecture, ensuring a common framework, facilitating more concessional lending, reinvigorating multilateral development banks, increasing official development assistance (ODA) and providing more grants to avoid future debt crises.
As the meeting came to a close, Maria-Francesca Spatolisano, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-agency Affairs, speaking for Li Junhua, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, emphasized that now is the time to act with a renewed sense of focus and decisiveness to make the 2030 Agenda a reality for all through constructive multi-stakeholder engagement and effective, impactful partnerships.
Sanda Ojiambo, Assistant Secretary-General and Chief Executive Officer of the United Nations Global Compact, also underscored that great change is possible when businesses work together, adding that “we must not forget that the strength of our partnerships will truly determine the success of the Global Goals.”
Echoing those points, Council President Stoeva (Bulgaria) stressed that “the fight for a future that we want is indeed a fight that we can win, if we join forces”.
At the top of the meeting, Ms. Stoeva informed participants that the keynote speaker — Mia Kami, artist, storyteller and climate justice activist — unfortunately could not attend due to flooding in New Zealand.
The Economic and Social Council will reconvene on at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 1 February for its annual Coordination Segment.
LACHEZARA STOEVA (Bulgaria), President of the Economic and Social Council, acknowledging the contributions of over 700 stakeholders who participated in the virtual global consultation leading up to the 2023 Partnership Forum, spotlighted the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, war in Ukraine, conflicts and humanitarian and planetary challenges. “These realities are re-opening deep-seated scars and fragilities and compounding the inequalities between and within countries,” she stressed.
While the task of rebuilding societies in an inclusive and equitable manner may seem insurmountable, there is a rare opportunity to fundamentally re-think the “how-to” of sustainable development, she continued. In that regard, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Addis Ababa Action Agenda, Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Paris Agreement on climate change remain the best tools to overcome impediments, reduce risks and forge a better future defined by peace, equity and sustainability, she said.
There must be unprecedented, bold global partnership for reversing extreme poverty, easing debt burdens and mobilizing finance, she noted, calling for the international community to radically raise its ambitions to provide more targeted and harmonized multilateral support for communities and people at risk of being left behind. While Governments bear the primary responsibility for making this happen, they cannot do so without the active participation of stakeholders across all sectors of society; they must leverage the knowledge and resources of all actors and foster truly transformative and game-changing partnerships.
With the 2023 Sustainable Development Goal Summit marking the half-way point of the 2030 Agenda just over seven months away, the Partnership Forum is the first opportunity to rally all partners and hear the views and voices of Governments and stakeholders on working together to put the world back on track for people, planet and peace, she said. She underlined her determination to ensure that each Council segment, forum and meeting helps to set the course for the Summit, with the high-level political forum on sustainable development serving as a pre-Summit event.
When taken together, the Council system can clarify substantive priorities and building political momentum for the Summit, she pointed out, expressing her desire for all meetings of the organ and its subsidiary bodies to catalyse partnerships. “My earnest hope is to open the doors of all ECOSOC meetings to welcome and engage all institutions and peoples from all walks of life — including not only the most prominent, but also the least visible,” she said, emphasizing the important role of all in realizing the sustainable future. She then encouraged all participants to engage early, partner strategically and act resolutely towards a better, more peaceful and prosperous future.
AMINA MOHAMMED, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, speaking in a pre-recorded message, stressed the importance of participants’ active engagement in ensuring that 2023 is a pivotal year for the 2030 Agenda and a turning point for people, the planet and peace. Important voices from around the world are joining forces to mobilize a global rescue effort for the Sustainable Development Goals since the world, eight years into the 2030 Agenda, is far from where it needs to be. On almost every key indicator, it has moved in the wrong direction at a time when global solidarity and trust are faltering and when developing countries are locked into debt spirals and out of sustainable development financing.
It would be easy to lose hope in such an environment, “but that is not who we are and it is not what we do”, she said, pointing out that, every day across the world, people are rising above to achieve the most amazing things for themselves, their families and their communities. Urging the international community to do the same, she encouraged it to wake up to the current existential moment and the opportunity presented by energy, food, digital and social transitions. All must rise up to this historic moment, with all hands on deck and Governments leading the way. Success, however, is only possible if everyone works together with key partners showing leadership, ambition and action.
As activists, innovators and consumers, young people must steer new, creative and bold solutions to stubborn, old challenges, she continued. To that end, intergenerational leadership, including through the Organization’s Youth Office will ensure that young people are meaningfully engaged in decision-making at all levels. Turning to local and regional governments, she spotlighted their vital role on the front lines of responding to the pandemic, transforming education and accelerating green energy transitions. Local authorities must now move to the centre stage of the effort to rescue the Global Goals. Regarding the scientific community, she encouraged the international community to strengthen its collaboration and ensure that future scientific breakthroughs benefit people and planet while reaching everyone, everywhere.
She went on to call for long-term and socially responsible engagement with the private sector, from multinational corporations to small and medium-sized enterprises. All private sector entities should align their business models with the 10 principles and the new strategy issued by the United Nations Global Compact. The world is facing a choice between breakdown and breakthrough, she stressed, urging the international community to choose the only path that will benefit all: to unite in partnership to get the Sustainable Development Goals back on track so that a life of dignity and opportunity on a safe and healthy planet can be ensured for all.
The representative of Samoa, speaking for the Alliance of Small Island States and associating herself with the statement to be made by the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said the global agreement known as the “Small Island Developing States Accelerated Modalities of Action” — or SAMOA Pathway — recognized the urgent need to strengthen international cooperation and ensure genuine and durable partnerships to address issues related to the sustainable development of small island developing States. Outlining the many partnerships created as part of the SAMOA Pathway process, she spotlighted the Small Island Developing States Partnership Framework as a standardized template for reporting thereon, as well as the creation of a toolkit for partnership implementation. However, she also noted common challenges identified in the implementation of those partnerships — including insufficient sustainable finance, a lack of enabling environment and conditions, lack of trust and weak governance mechanisms — and noted deficiencies in data availability. Small States face long-term economic damage from the skills and education losses, and “need to build back stronger”. In 2024, the world will gather for the fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States, where partnerships must be reinvigorated and made more robust, including as a way of supporting the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, she said.
The representative of Cuba, speaking for the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said today’s meeting comes at a critical juncture. The world is simultaneously facing multiple crises including unequal access to vaccines, the digital gap, foreign debt burdens, food insecurity, trade restrictive measures, lack of climate financing and limited capacity building, among others. Developing countries have had to invest much of their resources in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and paying their foreign debts, which in the global South have almost doubled in recent years. “It is already evident that we are not on the right track to achieve the 2030 Agenda […] and its 17 Goals,” she said, calling for the acceleration of an inclusive and sustainable COVID-19 recovery as a first step. It is crucial to follow-up on the Secretary-General's proposal for an “SDG Stimulus” to boost sustainable development for developing countries. Efforts are also needed to tackle the immediate, medium- and long-term financing challenges that developing countries face by increasing official development assistance (ODA), concessional finance, the voluntary rechannelling of unutilized special drawing rights to developing countries, a new allocation of those rights and a more comprehensive, inclusive and effective debt-solution framework. In addition, she called for the urgent reform of the international financial architecture with strengthened participation of developing countries in global economic decision-making.
The representative of the International Disability Alliance, noting that the world is recovering from a health crisis where health systems have not worked for marginalized communities, underscored the key role of civil society in delivering the Sustainable Development Goals. All processes should be involving key constituencies — including persons with disabilities and their representative organizations — in decision-making processes at all levels when discussing programmes for development and COVID-19 recovery, she emphasized. To this end, Member States should create high-quality disaggregated data, including citizen-generated data, which should also include participation from marginalized groups, including persons with disabilities.
The representative of India, aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, called for the international community to take the collective experience of the past few years and forge partnerships which accelerate recovery from the global pandemic and the full implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. Such partnerships must bridge the divides that were apparent during the pandemic when discriminatory practices characterized the global response and starkly exposed the dangers of overcentralized globalization and unreliable supply chains. A more democratic and equitable world can only be built on greater diversification and the localization of capabilities, he stressed. Partnerships must be locally driven and context-specific, and must not be driven by demands imposed on others, he continued, spotlighting his country’s approach. They must also embrace reforms, he said, urging all to carefully examine structures, systems and processes, correct imbalances, including within multilateral institutions, and ensure the voices of the Global South are reflected at the decision-making table.
The representative of Indonesia, associating himself with the Group of 77 and calling for new perspectives to be brought into the Economic and Social Council’s work, said concrete actions and impacts must be built on strong resilience. The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated how quickly and severely shocks can impact countries around the globe. As such, resilience must be embedded into all the Council’s programming. Youth — with their innovations and fresh ideas, as well as their grasp on tomorrow’ leadership — must be also included in all such efforts, he stressed.
The representative of Oman called for comprehensive and frank dialogue — including civil society, private sector, Governments and young people — that can lead to conclusions and consensus. Everyone should take part in this dialogue, without exceptions, especially small and least developed countries that have long suffered. However, he continued, this dialogue cannot be complete without the involvement of financial institutions. Underscoring the importance of accountability, as well as avoiding pressure and political conditions, he said this Forum should highlight the importance of leaving no one behind.
The representative of Sweden, speaking for the European Union, said the world’s efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda by its target date are being further hindered by the prolonging effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the triple planetary crisis and the global impacts of the Russian Federation’s illegal aggression against Ukraine. Calling for renewed efforts, she stressed: “Our top priority is to strengthen resilience against future shocks and to ensure a sustainable, equitable and inclusive recovery.” Voicing the European Union’s support for strengthened participation by all stakeholders — notably civil society, women’s groups, youth, human rights representatives, the private sector and academia — in all aspects of the Council’s work, she also called for a stronger multilateral system more broadly. Countries should heed the Secretary-General’s calls laid out in Our Common Agenda, as “it is up to Member States to deliver”. In that regard, she called for support for least developing countries — including at the upcoming conference in Doha — adding that the Doha Programme of Action will be a milestone, enacting the global community’s engagement to reach the furthest behind first. She also noted that ODA remains critical for financing sustainable development, particularly in the most vulnerable countries, and called for stronger efforts to mobilize resources.
The representative of the United Cities and Local Governments underscored that there is no single actor nor Government capable of facing global challenges alone. As this is a “whole-of-humanity” effort, the international community must rethink local service provision, new essentials and investments to ensure the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Furthermore, to address the attacks on democracy and the continued marginalization of vulnerable groups, it must regain trust in institutions, which includes renewing the multilateral system into networked but democratic manner where all stakeholders play a role. Goal 11 has an enabling role to play, she said, encouraging all to be bold, to not think as usual and to promote new partnerships which collaborate and co-cocreate societies with free individuals.
The youth delegate from EduBeyond said COVID-19 resulted in the loss of 2 trillion hours of classroom time in 2021. Citing a crisis of educational quality, he warned against the idea that education is “one size fits all”. “Whether you belong to the 2.3 per cent who have a learning disability, or the 80 per cent who are bored and disengaged in school, school today is less so of an education, but more so of a certification,” he pointed out. However, with today’s technology, learning can be personalized to maximize actual, interesting learning. Drawing attention to artificial intelligence technology in particular, he said that the digitization of education transforms the impact, stakeholders and even definition of education itself.
The representative of Chile stressed the importance of collaborative work among all stakeholders at the international level. Participation of different sectors will allow to mobilize greater commitments to meet local and global challenges, she said, pointing to the ambitious targets of the 2030 Agenda. The implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the achievements of the Sustainable Development Goals are a result of partnership-based work which brings together academia and private sector. Currently, her Government is beginning an educational recovery plan to address the consequences of the pandemic on the educational community, she reported, spotlighting policy that focuses on education and mental health, as well as providing further assistance to students.
The representative of Costa Rica, aligning herself with the Group of 77 and China, stressed that 2023 offers the international community a golden opportunity to change direction and make possible the effective and accelerated implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The full and effective participation of all stakeholders in the design of solutions is necessary, incontrovertible and a State commitment. The Council has a key role in facilitating effective and continuous interaction between Member States, the United Nations system and multiple stakeholders towards implementing the Goals on the ground. Mainstreaming human rights guarantees legitimacy and sustainability. All of the Council’s various fora, meetings, events, commissions and dialogues should enable States to work with one purpose, she stressed, pledging her country’s commitment to coordinating efforts and responses at the national, regional and global levels.
The representative of El Salvador, associating herself with the Group of 77 and China, said developing countries have been disproportionately affected by the world’s multiple, overlapping crises. The mobilization of resources continues to be the main challenge facing such countries, she stressed, noting that the Economic and Social Council’s 2023 workload can help provide valuable inputs to the broader United Nations system which helps countries implement the 2030 Agenda’s targets. Such efforts can also help prevent future crises before they happen, she added, voicing concern over recent cuts to, and realignment of, resources earmarked for the United Nations development pillar. Partnerships with international financial institutions and other stakeholders are all the more crucial, and developed countries must honour their ODA commitments. As a middle-income country, El Salvador works to leverage many different types of support, but resources need to become more sustainable, she added.
The representative of Angola highlighted the difficult socioeconomic challenges faced by the world, including the COVID-19 pandemic and geopolitical tensions that affected every single economy worldwide, imposing different access conditions to food, fertilizers and energy. This has led to rising prices of goods and services, as well as a substantial reduction in international trade transactions. Pointing out that these challenges triggered the largest setback since the Second World War, he said it has sent the world even further off track on the goal of ending poverty by 2030.
The representative of the International Federation of Aging pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively and disproportionately affected older persons, who are also subject to age discrimination, as well as discrimination based on other characteristics, such as gender and disability. To accelerate recovery from the pandemic and fully implement the Sustainable Development Goals, the representation of older persons and other vulnerable groups must be ensured in all efforts and partnerships, including a greater involvement in prevention and promotion. There must also be a shared agenda to solve common problems. As such, partnerships within Governments and joint approaches will be needed with civil society playing a key role.
The representative of Soroptimist International, also speaking for the Women’s Major Group, said her organization comprises some 1,800 women’s organizations worldwide. Civil society groups have recently been raising concerns about a real possibility that the 2030 Agenda will not be successfully implemented until 2065, and gender equality and women’s rights will not be achieved for another 200 years. As such, she recommended implementing multilateral cooperation, prioritizing transparency and accountability, and fully adhering to global human rights principles, including the right to a clean, healthy environment.
The representative of Hungary, aligning with the European Union, highlighted Sustainable Development Goals 6 and 17, and stressed that water-related issues are at the core of sustainable development. In this regard, the upcoming United Nations Water Conference in March will be a crucially important platform for reviewing the progress made. She drew attention to her Government’s assistance focused on Uganda, where the sanitation facilities of six schools were established in 2020. Moreover, Hungary has hosted several events to facilitate regional and international cooperation. As a country with significant knowledge and experience in water innovation, Hungary is committed to granting financing to countries in need, she asserted, pointing to projects in Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Cabo Verde.
The representative of Portugal detailed how civil society entities in Portugal have come together to mobilize the contributions of local authorities. The Sustainable Development Goals Local Platform — launched in 2020 — aims to empower local communities for the 2030 Agenda, he said, drawing attention to nearly 500 projects and 1,000 good practices on the platform. The platform monitors the performance of municipalities in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals’ targets through indicators, it disseminates reference projects and communicates the work done by municipalities. The platform was born from a partnership among civil society, academic institutions and philanthropies, and it stimulated many more partnerships at the local level, he recalled, stressing that true progress can only be achieved through inclusive approaches.
The representative of Maldives, aligning herself with the Group of 77 and China and AOSIS, said her Government tackled the pandemic by increasing health spending and putting in place measures to contain the outbreak, while providing support to the most affected and ensuring free healthcare and vaccinations. Where information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure was in place, it worked with civil society, the private sector and the media to facilitate a swift shift to e-platforms that enabled continued service. The Government also addressed climate change by aligning policies and development practices with environmental protection. Spotlighting the balance between economic needs and environmental sustainability efforts, she urged all actors to accelerate efforts to address the climate emergency and emphasized that gender equality must be at the heart and centre of development efforts. She also called for a multidimensional vulnerability index since access to concessional financing continues to be a major hurdle for many developing countries.
The representative of Iraq, associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said today’s Partnership Forum is the embodiment of the Economic and Social Council’s role in supporting Member States as they work to recover from the COVID‑19 pandemic and achieve the 2030 Agenda. Enhancing partnerships is one of the most important elements of the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) reform, he said, looking forward to a fruitful exchange of ideas at today’s Forum that will hopefully be translated into reality, as developing countries continue to suffer from severe global shocks. Iraq cooperates with a range of stakeholders, such as civil society and the private sector, including in the drafting of its development plans and policies, he noted.
The representative of the International Association for the Advancement of Innovative Approaches to Global Challenges stressed the importance of young peoples’ participation in various United Nations spheres, from human rights to humanitarian affairs. Stressing the need for enhanced coherence, she called upon the United Nations agencies to accept funding from industries responsible for planetary destruction. Urging stronger funding, she said children and young people expect action from the Partnership Forum.
The representative of University College Dublin called for education to be a key policy message coming out of the Council’s Partnership Forum and its coordination segment. He spotlighted the Sustainable Development Solutions Network’s launch of a global initiative in partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens and the Centre for Sustainable Development at Columbia University, which aimed to advance sustainable development and achieve the Global Goals through life-long learning, relevant educational content, education programmes and professional training. Noting that various initiatives were presented at three virtual side events during the Partnership Forum, he said he would present one of UNESCO’s recommendations on open educational resources at the spotlight session on science and policy interfaces in the afternoon.
The representative of Algeria, noting that his country’s economy — along with those of other developing countries — has suffered from the shocks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, called for solidarity from all partners and respect for financial commitments. Balanced rules are needed for the transfer of technology, he said, citing the crucial need to ensure developing countries’ greater participation in global production chains and markets. Developed countries should spare no effort in supporting such efforts, he stressed, also underscoring the important role of South-South cooperation.
The representative of the United States, stressing the vital importance of national leadership, said delivering on the promise of the 2030 Agenda means leveraging all tools to drive creative problem-solving and fostering innovative partnerships. The United States has a whole-of-society approach to sustainable development, she said, adding that much of it begins at the local level. Globally, 23 United States federal agencies are active in building public-private partnerships to address global challenges from peace and security to climate change.
The representative of Pakistan underlined that global economic growth is projected to decrease from 3 per cent in 2022 to 1.9 per cent in 2023. Global inflation is estimated to be at 6.5 per cent, with almost 350 million people facing acute food insecurity. This would increase poverty and hunger, as well as impede the prospects of the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. The poorest, most vulnerable nations and groups and the developing countries will require additional fiscal space to redress health emergency, revive economic growth and combat the devastating impacts of climate change. To overcome these challenges, she outlined short-term actions, as well as systemic reforms, including establishment of a multilateral mechanism for the sustainable management of sovereign debt; fulfilment of the agreed ODA target of 0.7 per cent of developing countries’ gross national income; creation of mechanisms to lower the borrowing costs for developing countries; and restructuring of the international trading system to revive export-led growth in those countries.
The representative of the International Development Law Organization stressed that partnerships — the core of what makes multilateralism work — can flourish only if there are shared principles. Leveraging the rule of law and strengthening legal frameworks are critical in that regard as are addressing corruption, ensuring transparency and accountability, and avoiding weak contracts and costly dispute settlements. His organization has sought to address these issues through an international investment support programme for least developed countries — with support from the Office of the High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, European Union, Italy and the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development — by focusing on negotiation and dispute-settlement. The Doha Programme of Action encourages countries to make wide use of this programme’s facilities and invites donors to support it, he noted.
The representative of Denmark, also speaking for Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, said 2023 is a particularly busy and critical year in the world of sustainable development. Leveraging the links between the various agreed global agendas is crucial, he said, voicing the Nordic countries’ strong support for solidarity in the form of development partnerships. Emphasizing that countries cannot implement the 2030 Agenda on their own, he said any meaningful dialogue must engage all stakeholders — not to replace intergovernmental actors, but to supplement them. He also cited a major financing gap, describing the United Nations Global Compact as one important platform to help private sector businesses scale up their support. He went on to welcome the new United Nations Youth Office, which aims to meaningfully include young people from around the world in global decision-making.
The representative of Outright Action International, also speaking for the LGBTIQ+ Stakeholder Group, stressed that no group should be marginalized, including the LGBTIQ+ communities who have been made invisible in most sustainable development conversations and crisis responses. The COVID-19 crisis serves as a clear example, she said, adding that those who were on the margins were especially affected. LGBTIQ+ were left with no specific policies that would protect them when the first hit came, she noted, calling for meaningful participation of the LGBTIQ+ community in the COVID-19 recovery-related decision-making and implementation processes.
The representative of the United States Council for International Business noted that over the coming year, businesses will be gathering the private sector’s tools and approaches to turbo-charge the Sustainable Development Goals. The international community should particularly meet needs in the areas of governance, infrastructure, employment, digital inclusivity and human rights. She also encouraged the Council to bolster inclusive multilateralism that advances cooperation among and between States, as well as working partnerships with all stakeholders. She also called for stronger cooperation between public and private sectors at all levels, stressing that no one must remain on the side lines.
The representative of Qatar said the challenges stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic have had serious repercussions and set many countries back from implementing the Sustainable Development Goals. Qatar has prioritized that implementation, as well as its close cooperation with the United Nations system. Noting that his country has pledged $500 million over 10 years to build the capacity of United Nations entities to fight instability and to tackle social and economic crises, he also spotlighted its provision of medical aid to partners during the COVID-19 pandemic and its partnership with the GAVI Vaccine Alliance. In addition, efforts are under way to open a new United Nations office in Doha in March, he said.
The representative of Spain, aligning herself with the European Union, underscored the importance of focusing on overcoming poverty and inequality at an international level. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed health inequalities in many countries, she said, stressing the need to work towards fair environmental transition, generate greater climate resilience and further strengthen the role of States and regional and local bodies in developing effective policies. The pandemic has revealed the key role played by local entities as well as the need to include civil society in flexible responses to global challenges, she emphasized.
The representative of Guatemala, noting that her country is working on its fourth national voluntary view, spotlighted its achievements, notably the technical support to implement the Sustainable Development Goals through a national, urban and rural development council. However, due to a limited budget, there was a gap between planning and implementation. She called for partnerships at all levels, especially public-private partnerships, which should complement and not replace the Government’s efforts on sustainable development. Her Government has also implemented digital actions to ensure effective and transparent policymaking. She then appealed for additional resources for international coordination and stressed that implementation should be a priority during this Decade of Action.
The representative of Zambia said the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda requires multistakeholder engagements — including young people, civil society, academia, United Nations systems and other non-State actors. Equally important is the integration of the private sector in pursuing practical solutions to the much-needed structural transformation in developing countries, particularly least developed countries. Also calling for stronger financing — especially for developing countries — he underlined the need for both ODA and concessional finance, complemented by support from the private sector. In addition, financing and capacity-enhancement is needed for the transport, energy, agricultural and social sectors; the building of productive capacities and entrepreneurship; the building of resilience to shocks; increased investment in technology infrastructure; and stronger partnerships in the framework of South-South and triangular cooperation.
The Special Representative of the International Criminal Police Commission (INTERPOL) noted that the COVID-19 pandemic exposed vulnerabilities to setbacks, and stalled progress and reversed hard-won development gains. Only a whole-of-society approach can accelerate the recovery from the pandemic, he underlined, adding that the endeavours of national, regional and international police organizations will contribute to the prevention and preparation for future health crises. Highlighting the nexus between the Sustainable Development Goals and the Global Policing Goals — anchored in the General Assembly resolution on “Cooperation between the United Nations and INTERPOL” — he said INTERPOL and the regional policing organizations decided to launch a review process of the Global Policing Goals in parallel.
The representative of ASTM International spotlighted his organization’s contributions to the mitigation of the COVID-19 pandemic through the open posting of relevant standards for download; partnering with the World Bank Group, Jordan and Viet Nam to deliver technical sessions related to sanitizers, personal protective equipment and related topics; and expediting the delivery of a standard, recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO), on barrier face coverings. ASTM International’s standards notably relate to 12 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and align particularly well with the targets for sustainable cities and communities, industry, innovation and infrastructure, good health and well-being, affordable and clean energy, responsible consumption and production and climate action, he said, pledging its continued collaboration with the Organization and its agencies on such areas.
The representative of the World Youth Alliance, a global coalition of 200,000 young people looking to uplift human dignity through education, advocacy and culture, said its Human Dignity Curriculum has taught children across Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, Latin America, Middle East and North America. It has been implemented in formal and informal classroom settings, the latter notably among street children, refugees, juvenile delinquents and children with disabilities. The children who go through the Human Dignity Curriculum exhibit perseverance in difficult times, awareness of how their actions affect others and an ambition to improve their communities. This is essential groundwork that needs to be prioritized to ensure recovery from the global pandemic, she underscored.
The representative of Tajikistan, associating herself with the Group of 77 and China, cited a range of global challenges that have highlighted vulnerabilities. “We need immediate actions to help the world recover,” she stressed, spotlighting the climate crisis, in particular, as requiring transformative action. The pledge by developed countries to mobilize $100 billion in support of developing countries should be fully and faithfully implemented, in accordance with the principle of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. Tajikistan is concerned about changes in hydrological cycles, which have led to severe floods and droughts and negatively impacted water, energy and food security. Tajikistan proposed that 2025 be declared the International Year of Glacier Preservation — as well as the establishment of a special international fund for glacier preservation — and has been the author of various water-related resolutions at the United Nations, she said.
The representative of the International Labour Organization (ILO) stressed that alliances are essential to promote policy coherence and to renew commitments made. For instance, the global child labour conference in Durban in 2019 led to the adoption of a call for action endorsed by children by more than 1,000 delegates. Moreover, the Climate Action for Jobs initiative serves as a global innovation hub on just transitions and a mechanism for pool funding at the country level with technical assistance, as well as an advocacy facility for youth. On some occasions, alliances have been complemented by specific targeted networks, he said, pointing out the collaboration with the child labour platform, which is a cross-sectoral, business-led initiatives to tackle child labour in supply chains.
The representative of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) spotlighted the Agency’s work on the peaceful application of nuclear science and technology in supporting the 2030 Agenda. For example, on Sustainable Development Goal 2 on hunger, it has worked in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to improve Member States’ food security and agricultural practices through nuclear techniques to protect plants from insects, breed new plant varieties and ensure improved crop yields, among others. On Goal 3 on health, it supported Member States in their efforts to address the growing cancer crisis, provide training and capacity-building for needed and skilled personnel, and address the huge gaps in knowledge and technology. She also reported that, regarding the pandemic, it has integrated nuclear and related techniques into efforts to monitor and respond to outbreaks of diseases and enhance future preparedness.
The representative of Senegal, speaking for the African Group, said partnerships will mobilize a wide range of stakeholders in the sharing of knowledge, expertise, technology and resources towards achieving the 2030 Agenda. Noting that, by 2050, Africa will have the world’s largest and most youthful workforce, he declared: “[We] must therefore start investing today in education, science, technology, research and innovation.” Deliberate policy strategies and sufficient financing are needed, and United Nations multi-stakeholder partnerships must be inclusive, transparent and accountable. Sharing knowledge is a crucial element of partnerships, he said, adding that achieving Goal 17, in particular, requires enhanced linkages and capacity-building platforms. Among other things, he called for a clear division of labour among United Nations — entities according to their respective mandates — as well as measurable indicators to track progress and efforts to ensure that all voices are heard in decision-making processes.
The representative of the Triumphant Hand of Mercy Initiative stressed that the impact of the COVID-19 crisis has been estimated to be five times that of the global financial crisis. Pointing to economic challenges faced by many African countries, he said that Africa as a continent is behind the 2030 Agenda’s achievements. Further, women and girls have been disproportionately affected by the socioeconomic fallout of the pandemic, struggling with harmful practices, economic inequalities and disruptions in access to essential services.
The representative of the World Roma Federation stressed the importance of Sustainable Development Goal 10 on the empowerment and promotion of economic inclusion for all. As the Roma people are facing high levels of poverty and unemployment due to the historical discrimination they have faced, issues of equality and inclusion must be addressed to fully implement the 2030 Agenda. Inclusion is about improving the quality of life for all and ensuring that everyone has an opportunity to participate in sustainable development and benefit from the process. The international community must move away from traditional approaches focusing on individual or household outcomes and move instead towards systems, he said, calling for everyone to have access to the opportunities they need to participate in society.
The representative of Kazakhstan said his country aims to go beyond COVID-19 recovery efforts to seek transformative strategies for the financing of development, reducing poverty, supporting economic growth and addressing food, water and energy insecurity. Conflict prevention and mediation, combating extremism and violence, and countering climate change are among other areas that the United Nations must prioritize. Citing the severe fiscal shortfalls facing many States, he called for efforts towards a serious reform of the international financial architecture, as well as the more equitable sharing of resources and capacity. Drawing attention to Kazakhstan’s “Strategy 2050”, he said the country is actively engaged in all Central Asian intergovernmental and other platforms, and will foster partnerships beyond the region, assisted by international financial institutions and predictable ODA.
The representative of China said that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all countries faced severe disruptions to their development. People worldwide are eager to get back on track of global development, he underlined, noting that developing countries have been hardest hit by multiple crises. To this end, the international community should increase investments and provide targeted support to developing countries. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, China has provided more than $2 billion in international aid and 2.2 billion doses of vaccines to 153 countries, playing an exemplary role in addressing this crisis.
The representative of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), sharing that he was impressed with the intervention on person-centred solutions amidst a difficult policy environment, stressed the need for countries to protect the vulnerable through health, education and social spending. He also emphasized the importance of strengthening the debt architecture, ensuring a common framework, facilitating more concessional lending, strengthening multilateral development banks, increasing ODA and providing more grants as they are a great way of avoiding future debt crises. All small island developing States and vulnerable middle-income countries are eligible for the Fund’s resilience and sustainability trust, he reminded, voicing his hope that he would have more to say on his organization’s quotas during its annual meeting. On collaboration with the United Nations development system and international financial institutions, he spotlighted the Fund’s work and progress especially within the context of fragile States and underscored the necessity to strengthen partnerships against the threat of fragmentation.
The representative of Italy, associating herself with the European Union, said today’s discussion — along with those at the upcoming Economic and Social Council coordination segment — will positively inspire the content of the next high-level political forum and the upcoming Sustainable Development Goals Summit slated for September. The year 2023 is crucial as the world approaches the midterm point of the 2030 Agenda and struggles to build back better in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Our level of ambition has to be consistent with the multiple crises we are facing,” he said, noting that enhanced partnerships with the private sector and relevant stakeholders play a major role in financing the actions that are needed most. Italy puts partnerships at the core of its development cooperation, having established a National Council that groups together both profit and non-profit operators in development cooperation.
MARIA-FRANCESCA SPATOLISANO, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-agency Affairs in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, speaking for Li Junhua, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, praised the Forum for offering an inspiring opportunity for Member States and stakeholders to come together and jointly discuss the priorities for the year ahead. The Council heard many new ideas on how to raise its collective ambition and make 2023 a turning point as it gears up for the high-level political forum in July and the Sustainable Development Goal Summit in September. Participants also had the opportunity to hear from the Co-Chairs of the Independent Group of Scientists preparing the 2023 edition of the Global Sustainable Development Report, who shared a number of valuable insights on leveraging interlinkages among the Global Goals including through synergistic partnerships.
She went on to say that stakeholders across different sectors and regions have repeatedly called for stronger political commitment and international cooperation, and have stressed the need to prioritize closing capital, capacity, data and development opportunity gaps through a revitalized global partnership. She also noted that the importance of broad-based participation and engagement by all, including women and the most vulnerable was also emphasized. As those who are left the furthest behind are often the ones with the weakest capacities to engage and partner effectively, many also underscored the need for more capacity building support to enable meaningful participation, especially for least developed countries.
With the year 2030 no longer distant, she urged Governments, the United Nations system and stakeholders across all sectors to double down on their efforts with a renewed sense of focus and decisiveness to make the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals a reality for all. Together, the international community must create more opportunities for constructive multi-stakeholder engagement and increase its impact through effective partnerships, she emphasized, adding that the time to act is now.
SANDA OJIAMBO, Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations Global Compact, highlighted the power of partnerships to unlock sustainable finance and advance sustainable development solutions from the ground up. Stressing that actions by business do not match the pace and ambition needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and prevent a climate catastrophe, she declared: “The business community can and must do more.” As the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative, the United Nations Global Compact has spent two decades building bridges among business, the United Nations, Governments and civil society.
Spotlighting the Compact’s initiatives, she drew attention to Latin America, where Global Compact Local Networks are working closely with United Nations human rights partners to build a coalition between human rights defenders and companies, and advocate for State-led actions to create stronger enabling environments. Over the past year, the Global Compact Local Networks in Eastern Europe have worked together — in close cooperation with Governments and United Nations humanitarian partners — to mobilize business support for war relief efforts in Ukraine. On the African continent, the Global Africa Business Initiative brings together business, non-profit, political, media and cultural leaders to realize the untapped potential of Africa’s $2.5 trillion market.
The upcoming Sustainable Development Goals Summit in September provides a rallying point to reinvigorate existing partnerships and identify new avenues for cooperation, she continued. In addition, in March, the United Nations Global Compact will be calling on companies to join the Sustainable Development Goals Movements Campaign to take actions on living wage, climate change, gender equality, water stewardship and sustainable finance to advance the 2030 Agenda. “When businesses work together for the common good, great change is possible,” she asserted, adding that “we must not forget that the strength of our partnerships will truly determine the success of the Global Goals.”
Ms. STOEVA (Bulgaria), Economic and Social Council President, acknowledged the urgent need for broad-based engagement and partnerships across all sectors of society to speed up sustainable recovery and development. “As we have repeatedly heard today, the fight for a future that we want is indeed a fight that we can win, if we join forces”, she said, emphasizing the important roles of partnership and participation in both the 2030 Agenda and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. Having noted the many recommendations and contributions which have been made by speakers, she said she will prepare a joint summary of the Council’s 2023 Partnership Forum and its Coordination Segment which will serve to inform its upcoming work.
She also pointed out that the Forum has become a truly inclusive and central platform that brings together Governments and stakeholders, adding that she was particularly pleased to see the presence of so many young speakers whose views and contributions are an important part of the Council’s solutions. She encouraged stakeholders to continue their engagement in the Council’s work throughout the year and to actively participate in the Summit in September.
She then informed the meeting that the Council’s Coordination Segment on 1 and 2 February will bring together its regional commissions, functional commissions and expert bodies and other United Nations system entities, including its specialized agencies, to discuss and identify transformative policies and initiatives for an accelerated recovery from the pandemic and the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The policy findings and recommendations from this segment are envisioned to contribute to the Summit, as well as other major upcoming events in 2023, she added, inviting all to actively participate.