The United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, has called for urgent action to rescue the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and ensure their progress. In a speech at the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development Goals in New York, Guterres highlighted the need for a global rescue plan for the SDGs, as only 15% of the targets are currently on track and many are moving in reverse.
Guterres emphasized that the SDGs are not just a list of goals but carry the hopes, dreams, rights, and expectations of people worldwide. They also provide the surest path to fulfilling the obligations under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. However, without immediate action, the SDGs risk being abandoned, leaving millions of people behind.
One of the key aspects of the proposed rescue plan is improving developing countries’ access to finance. Guterres expressed his support for an SDG Stimulus of at least $500 billion a year and an effective debt-relief mechanism that includes payment suspensions, longer lending terms, and lower rates. He also highlighted the need to reform the international financial architecture, which he considers outdated, dysfunctional, and unfair.
Guterres called for a “new Bretton Woods moment” and practical solutions to be developed by the Summit of the Future in September. However, he also stressed that countries can act right now to get the SDGs back on track. He commended the efforts of businesses, financial institutions, local authorities, and the United Nations development system in supporting high-impact initiatives in six targeted areas that require urgent transitions.
The six targeted areas include addressing hunger, transitioning to renewable energy, spreading the benefits of digitalization, improving education quality, promoting decent work and social protection, and addressing the triple planetary crisis of climate change, pollution, and biodiversity loss. Guterres emphasized the need to ensure full gender equality across all these transitions.
Guterres concluded his speech by calling on world leaders to take immediate action to fulfill the promises made to billions of people whose hopes and futures depend on their actions. He reiterated that if we act now, act together, and keep our promises, we can prevail in achieving the SDGs and creating a world of health, progress, and opportunity for all.
It is clear that urgent action is needed to rescue and accelerate progress towards the SDGs. The international community must come together, provide the necessary financial support, and implement transformative initiatives in key areas to ensure that no one is left behind. The eyes of the world are on world leaders, and the time to act is now.