UN Chief at the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Summit 2019


United Nations

Sep 24, 2019

Remarks by H.E. Mr. António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, at the High-level Political Forum (HLPF) under the 74th Session of the General Assembly Accelerating the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

At the opening of the first-ever Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Summit, today (24 Sep) at United Nations Headquarters, Secretary-General António Guterres said “the good news is that the 2030 Agenda is coming to life” but stressed that “we are far from where we need to be.”

Guterres said “governments, north and south, have begun integrating the Goals into national plans and strategies. The private sector is coming to understand that green business is good business. And cities, businesses, the international financial sector, civil society, young people and more are stepping up and taking action.”

He said, “extreme poverty and child mortality rates are falling. Access to energy and to decent work is rising. And we see from this Summit, the commitment to the 2030 Agenda is an unmistakable commitment.”

Nevertheless, the Secretary-General made clear that “we are off track” as “deadly conflicts, the climate crisis, gender-based violence, and persistent inequalities are undermining efforts to achieve the Goals.”

He said, “uneven growth, rising debt levels, heightened global trade tensions are creating new obstacles to implementation. Youth unemployment remains at alarming levels. And global hunger is unfortunately on the rise.”

Guterres emphasized that, with just over 10 years to go, the world is not on track to hit targets related to sustainable development.

He said, “at the current pace, almost 500 million people could remain in extreme poverty by 2030.”

The Secretary-General urged leaders to “step up our efforts” and to “do it now.”

He said, “we must regain the trust of the people and respond to perceptions and experiences of alienation and instability generated by the current model of globalization.”

The Summit adopted a Political Declaration of Heads of State and Government that provides political guidance how to step up the pace of implementation of the 2030 Agenda and SDGs, and a series of SDG acceleration actions.

In 2015, the Member States of the UN adopted the landmark 2030 Agenda, which provides a blueprint for the transition to a healthier planet and a more just world, for present and future generations.

The Agenda is broken down into 17 Sustainable Development Goals, concrete targets concrete targets, to end poverty and hunger; expand access to health, education, justice and jobs; promote inclusive and sustained economic growth; while protecting our planet from environmental degradation.

The SDG Summit, which will continue Wednesday (25 Sep), is one of the five important high-level summits and meetings taking place during the opening week of the latest session of the UN General Assembly. It will allow leaders from government, business and other sectors to identify specific actions that can help get the SDG response back on track, with a decade of action and delivery still in play, in the lead up to the 2030 deadline.

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