UN Deputy Secretary-General, Nigeria’s Amina Mohammed, has expressed optimism that there is still hope for developing countries 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.
Fielding questions on the possibility of achieving the SDGs, Mohammed stressed on Tuesday, April 19, 2022, the goals were achievable.
She said that, with sustained investments and political will, developing countries could achieve the SDGs in spite of high debt profiles, mass illiteracy, poor health infrastructure, COVID-19 and poor performance in child rights.
The deputy secretary had earlier briefed newsmen on the “2022 Financing for Sustainable Development Report: Bridging the Finance Divide’’ lunched by the UN on April 12.
The report was produced by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs in collaboration with more than 60 international agencies, including the UN System, and international financial institutions.
The report came at a critical moment for humanity, adding to the compounding crises of climate change, assaults on our natural systems, and the protracted COVID-19 pandemic.
It also came at a time the world was experiencing the fallout of the war in Ukraine which had been rapidly impacting food, energy, and finance across the globe.
The deputy secretary-general also noted that the report estimates that in the poorest countries a 20 per cent increase in spending will be required for key sectors.
Mohammed acknowledged that multiplicity of crises had put developing countries at a disadvantage in making progress in achieving the SDGs when compared with strides made by developed countries.
“There is still hope of achieving the goals.
“Every day, we work on different scenarios and opportunities for investments and to ride on the back of climate actions and energy transition.
“We are looking at the involvement of the private sector and we have seen good signs at COP 26, where unmanaged fund was committed to sustainable investment planning,’’ she said.
COP26 was the 26th UN Climate Change conference held in Glasgow, Scotland, from Oct. 31 to Nov. 13 2021.
It brought parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
“We have looked at commitments made at COP26 and there were lots of commitments.
“So, we are pushing; we are targeting G20 and Spring Meetings. We are targeting those meetings to help to mobilise resources and to create the enabling environment,’’ Mohammed said.
According to her, attention is on multilateralism to get different ways to get financing to achieve the goals.
The deputy secretary-general, however, expressed dissatisfaction at the level of institutional and corporate support for the SDGs in developing countries.
“We are not satisfied with what we have seen so far.
“We didn’t see that commitment in COVID-19 response,’’ she lamented.
Mohammed urged leaders in developing countries to deliver on their commitments in achieving the SDGs.
Earlier, Mohammed said without immediate policy action, the window for delivering the SDGs by 2030 would close.
She noted that the majority of developing countries would need active and urgent support to get back on track to achieve the SDGs.
She said an estimated 77 million more people were still living in extreme poverty globally, a worse situation when compared with the pre-COVID-19 era.
According to her, UN analysis indicates that 1.7 billion people are facing exposure to spiking food prices, energy and fertiliser costs as a result of the on-going war in Ukraine.
The UN deputy chief assured that the recommendations from the reports pointed on the way forward to revert the threat posed by the COVID-19 and other challenges.
“First, the international community must urgently address financing gaps and rising debt risks and it would be a tragedy if developing countries continue to default at the expense of investments in social services and climate resilience,’’ she noted.
Mohammed also said that policy makers must ensure that financing is aligned with the SDGs and climate actions.
“This includes public budgets, tax systems, regulatory frameworks, and corporate reporting requirements.
“Climate-related risks should also be integrated into debt contracts and financial frameworks,’’ she stressed.
She also said developing countries should improve on information ecosystems, as it would help policymakers to improve on planning; to manage risks better and to combat illicit financial flows.
“It will also help markets to better evaluate sovereign risks, including the impact of credit ratings.
“Across the board, we must also take steps to improve our global financial system to ensure that it reduces inequality while increasing resilience.
“As things stand now, those member states that have the power of the global financial system appear to be moving in the opposite direction,’’ the top UN official said.
By Cecilia Ologunagba