President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Collen Kelapile, has expressed optimism that there is still hope to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
The SDGs are a collection of 17 interlinked global goals designed to be a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.
The UN General Assembly set the goals in 2015 with a target date of attainment fixed at 2030.
Kelapile gave the assurance at the opening remarks to the ministerial segment of its ongoing High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) at UN headquarters in New York.
The UN top official said he was optimistic that the world could meet the goals in spite of two years of a “surreal struggle” against the COVID-19 pandemic amidst rising global challenges.
Countries are meeting to examine how recovery policies can reverse the pandemic’s negative impacts on the common goal of creating a more equitable future for all people and the planet.
The current global challenges must not dampen their resolve and determination, Kelapile said, underscoring that nations must act together in solidarity.
Also speaking, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the world is in deep trouble, but “we are far from powerless.”
The secretary general outlined four areas for immediate action, starting with recovery from the pandemic in every country.
“We must ensure equitable global access to COVID-19 vaccines, therapies and tests.
“And now it is very important to have a serious effort to increase the number of countries that can produce vaccines, diagnostics and other else technologies thinking about the future,” he said.
Countries must also ramp up efforts to make sure future disease outbreaks are better managed by strengthening health systems and ensuring Universal Health Coverage.
The UN chief also underscored the need to tackle the food, energy and finance crisis.
He said that Ukraine’s food production, and the food and fertiliser produced by Russia must be brought back to world markets in spite of the ongoing war.
“We have been working hard on a plan to allow for the safe and secure exports of Ukrainian produced foods through the Black Sea and Russian foods and fertilizers to global markets,” he said.
The secretary-general also called for a New Global Deal so that developing countries could have a fair chance at building their own futures and for reforming the global financial system to one that “works for the vulnerable, not just the powerful”.
Similarly, the President of the UN General Assembly, Abdulla Shahid, focused on the importance of hope and solidarity so that the world will emerge from this period stronger, more resilient, and more sustainable.
“To break the vicious cycle of crises we must do more than ‘look’ towards a more sustainable future, we must put it into practice,” he said.
Shahid called for placing greater investments in areas such as social protection, poverty reduction and climate action, in addition to empowering young people as “agents of a sustainable transformation”.
Countries must also learn from the pandemic, particularly where systems and policies proved dysfunctional.
He also pressed for reforming the international finance system, particularly in regard to debt relief and vulnerabilities, Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) and humanitarian relief.
Shahid also appealed for commitment to address both the situation of the most vulnerable countries and for the sustainable development of Africa.
He included support for achieving universal vaccination, food security and energy access across the continent.
Although the pandemic tested the limits of international solidarity, “multilateralism prevails and international solidarity persists”, said the General Assembly President.
He pointed to initiatives such as the COVAX vaccine equity mechanism and the negotiations on a global pandemic treaty.
“We have seen countries and communities come together to find common solutions to common challenges. We must build on this in every way we can,” he said.
By Cecilia Ologunagba