UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged the international community to rescue the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and make them a top priority.
“In a world in crisis, rescuing the Sustainable Development Goals is more important than ever,” the Secretary-General told the UN Economic and Social Council’s (ECOSOC) 2022 Operational Activities for Development Segment, an event held during the 2022 ECOSOC session (May 17-19), on Tuesday.
“When we see most of the SDGs moving backwards by the accumulation of crises we are facing, to rescue them must be our highest common priority,” the top UN official stressed.
On the impact of Covid-19, Guterres said the pandemic has led to the loss of nearly 15 million lives, Xinhua news agency reported.
“It pushed about 100 million people into poverty in 2020 alone. And it has set back human development, especially women’s rights, by a full generation,” said the Secretary-General.
Guterres added that the pandemic demanded “a united response based on solidarity” between developed and developing countries — but that did not happen.
Speaking about the development issue, the UN chief noted that “we are facing a development emergency of global proportions. Governments and people are looking to the UN for support through these difficult times.”
Guterres underscored that “the world is on fire and so far, international cooperation has not delivered for those who need it most.”
“We have no alternative but to keep pushing our limits and stepping up our efforts,” he said.
On development reforms, Guterres said the benefits of the reforms “must turn into results, at an unprecedented scale, to rescue the Sustainable Development Goals.”
“Scaling up will require a shift in our approach — because no agency can deliver this alone.”
“We can only mobilise the required level of investments if we combine our United Nations assets to support the transitions needed in food systems, energy and digital connectivity and others,” said the Secretary-General.
Resident coordinators “will play a key role in enabling the UN development system” to contribute to these transitions, while expanding access to social protection and decent jobs for all, Guterres added.
“These transitions are our entry points for wide-ranging solutions across the entire 2030 Agenda,” he said.
“Rescuing the SDGs means rescuing developing economies around the world,” he added.
The UN chief said international financial institutions and multilateral development banks should increase the provision of immediate liquidity to these countries and expand fiscal space, by allocating more financing in the form of grants and concessional loans.
“Over the long-term, we need a complete overhaul of our global financial system,” he pointed out.
The Secretary-General called for efforts to give a bigger role to the UN country teams, noting that over 95 per cent of governments in countries “where we have programmes said UN country teams are more integrated and collaborative — up from 80 per cent in 2019.”
“I will continue to take all measures within my power to ensure a fully funded coordination system for development, and will monitor the funding model for the next year. If necessary, I will revert with my previous recommendations for the consideration of member states,” Guterres said.
“I welcome the General Assembly’s recent reconfirmation of the ECOSOC operational activities segment as the accountability platform for the UN development system, the resident coordinator’s system, and UN system-wide performance,” he added.
Talking about the UN development system, the UN chief said he was pleased to see that governments “are increasingly satisfied with the support offered by the UN development system. We are now much closer to our shared reform objectives.”
“The multiple crises facing the world raise the bar even higher. We know the solutions, and we are ready to scale up to meet the expectations of member states,” he added.
“The years ahead will demand much stronger leadership and ambition at all levels,” said the Secretary-General.
“We must rise higher to rescue the SDGs — and stay true to our promise of a world of peace, dignity and prosperity on a healthy planet,” he added.