Sustainable development goals can be achieved ‘despite our grim times’: ECOSOC president


Collen V. Kelapile, President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), gave an opening address for the ministerial part of the ongoing High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF).

Countries gather in the General Assembly to examine how recovery policies can reverse the negative effects of the pandemic on the common goal of creating a more equitable future for all people and the planet.

Opportunity for transformation

The current global challenges should not dampen their determination and determination, said Mr Kelapile, underlining that countries must act together in solidarity

“After two years of a surreal battle against the pandemic, it is true that we now live in a world of increased conflict, inequality, poverty and suffering; of economic instability; energy and looming food crisis; rising debt levels; of a slowdown in progress towards gender equality and women’s empowerment,” he said.

“And yet, one of the key messages we’ve heard from the high-level political forum in recent days is that despite our grim times, there’s lingering optimism that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will give us a framework to better rebuild. ”

Vaccine Equality

The world is in deep trouble, but “we are far from powerless,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres told the meeting.

He outlined four areas for immediate action, starting with pandemic recovery in each country.

“We must ensure equitable global access to COVID-19 vaccines, therapies and tests. And now it is very important to make a serious effort to increase the number of countries that can produce vaccines, diagnostics and other technologiesI’m thinking about the future,” he said.

Countries also need to step up their efforts to ensure that future disease outbreaks are better managed by strengthening health systems and ensuring universal health coverage.

© UNICEF/Seyba Keita

A health worker in Mali prepares one of 396,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses delivered to the West African country through the COVAX facility.

Food and energy crisis

The UN chief also underlined the need to address the food, energy and financial crisis and stated that despite the ongoing war, Ukraine’s food production, and the food and manure produced by Russia, must be returned to the world market. are being brought.

“We have been working hard on a plan to enable the safe export of Ukrainian-produced food via the Black Sea and Russian food and fertilizers to world markets,” he said. “I thank the concerned governments for your continued cooperation.”

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Address economic inequality

However, today’s crises cannot be resolved without a solution to the crisis of economic inequality in developing countries, he added, calling for increased resources, “fiscal space”, as well as flexibility and understanding on the part of global financial institutions.

“We mustn’t forget that the majority of the poor do not live in the poorest countries; they live in middle-income countries† If they do not get the support they need, the development prospects of highly indebted middle-income countries will be seriously jeopardized,” he added.

The Secretary-General also called for a New Global Deal to give developing countries a fair chance to build their own futures, and to transform the global financial system into one that “works for the vulnerable, not just the powerful.” “.

Invest in people

The pandemic has exposed glaring inequalities both within and across countries, and as with all crises, it is the most vulnerable and marginalized who are hardest hit.

“It’s time to prioritize investing in people; build a new social contract based on universal social protection; and to overhaul the social support systems set up in the aftermath of World War II,” said Mr Guterres.

Any hope of solving the world’s challenges begins with education, he added, but that too is “plagued by a crisis of equality, quality and relevance.” The Secretary-General will convene a summit in September at which world leaders will reaffirm their commitment to education as a global public good.

A health center in Afghanistan is using renewable energy to reduce reliance on fossil fuels that contribute to climate change.

UNDP Afghanistan

A health center in Afghanistan is using renewable energy to reduce reliance on fossil fuels that contribute to climate change.

‘Renewable energy revolution’

On his final point, the UN chief urged ambitious climate action, warning that the battle to keep global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels will be won or lost this decade.

“Ending the global addiction to fossil fuels through a renewable energy revolution is the number one priority,” he said. “I have asked for no new coal plants and no more fossil fuel subsidies because financing fossil fuels is delusional and financing renewable energy is rational.”

UN General Assembly President Abdulla Shahid emphasized the importance of hope and solidarity so that the world emerges from this period stronger, more resilient and sustainable.

“To break the vicious circle of crises, we need to do more than just ‘look’ at a more sustainable future, we also need to put it into practice,” he said.

Learn from the pandemic

Mr Shahid called for more investment in areas such as social protection, poverty reduction and climate action, in addition to empowering young people as ‘agents of sustainable transformation’.

Countries also need to learn from the pandemic, especially where systems and policies have failed to work properly.

Like the Secretary-General, he also pushed for reform of the international financial system, especially with regard to debt relief and vulnerabilities, Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) and humanitarian aid.

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Common challenges, common solutions

Mr. Shahid also appealed for dedication to: both addressing the situation of the most vulnerable countries and for the sustainable development of Africaincluding support for achieving universal vaccination, food security and access to energy across the continent.

Although the pandemic tested the limits of international solidarity, “multilateralism predominates and international solidarity persists,” the General Assembly president said, pointing to initiatives such as the COVAX vaccine equality mechanism and the negotiations for a global pandemic treaty.

“We have seen countries and communities come together to find common solutions to common challenges. We need to build on this in every way we can,” he said.

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