With just 10 years left to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, UN leaders call for transformative action in the face of COVID-19 and the climate crisis.

New York, 18 September 2020 – The UN Secretary-General launched today the first SDG Moment, an annual check-in of progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. He was joined, virtually, by activist and UN Messenger of Peace Malala Yousafzai, 20 Heads of State and Government, UN leaders, civil society organisations and business leaders.

Achim Steiner, the Administrator for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), joined in the global call to leverage the COVID-19 crisis to spring forward on the 2030 Agenda.

“The pandemic is a clear warning. Recovery from crisis cannot be driven by a zero-sum game of economy versus environment, or health versus economy,” Steiner said in his speech during the SDG Moment. “Rather, this is a once-in-a-generation chance to set things straight and I am hopeful that this ambition will be met.”

Steiner spoke about impactful, concrete solutions for real and lasting change. Phasing in programmes like temporary basic income for the most vulnerable populations and phasing out expenses that don’t serve humanity, like fossil fuel subsidies, can have a transformative impact on both people and planet.

“Building people’s resilience against vulnerability, risk and deprivation, and helping them to get on their feet if they falter defines social protection in the 21st century. This is crucially important given that for the first time in 30 years, human development progress is expected to reverse,” Steiner said.

Steiner was joined by Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women, and Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UN Environment Programme, to discuss the implications and solutions to SDG progress. 

During the SDG Moment, world leaders gave a snapshot of the progress towards achieving the SDGs from a region-by-region perspective. Representatives from academia discussed the development trajectory, highlighted where the world needs to course-correct and identified where it falls short. 

The UN General Assembly begins on 22 September in New York. Due to COVID-19, the annual gathering will be held predominately online. 

For additional information, please contact Ayesha Babar at ayesha.babar@undp.org  or +92 (51) 835 5650


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