- Guterres said efforts to address poverty, inequality, hunger and unemployment are off the track and in some cases gone into reverse
- The 17 goals are aimed at driving economic prosperity and well-being for all people while protecting the environment
The United Nations is concerned that the progress on the Sustainable Development Goals has stalled a few years to the 2030 deadline.
UN-Secretary General António Guterres raised the concern on Monday saying the 17 goals are ‘woefully off-track halfway towards their 2030 deadline.’
Guterres said efforts to address poverty, inequality, hunger and unemployment are off the track and in some cases gone into reverse.
“In every case, the poorest and most vulnerable people and communities are hit hardest,” Guterres said.
The SG in his report to the 78th session of the UN General Assembly said developing countries are victims of a dysfunctional and unfair global financial system.
"The system denies them the financing and debt relief that they need to invest in renewable energy, universal social protection, quality education, decent job creation, universal health coverage, sustainable food systems, infrastructure and the digital transformation,” he said.
To address the global financing crisis, a stimulus proposal was launched to accelerate achievement of the Goals, with the aim of mobilizing $500 billion (Sh73 trillion) in new investments.
Through the stimulus proposal, the leaders target three actions on which the current international financial architecture can deliver results.
It seeks to address costly debts and growing debt distress, massively boosting affordable long-term financing and expanding contingency funds for countries in need.
The 78th session of the Assembly is under the theme “Rebuilding trust and reigniting global solidarity: Accelerating action on the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals towards peace, prosperity, progress and sustainability for all.”
"The SDGs are not just a list of goals. They carry the hopes, dreams, rights and expectations of people everywhere,” Guiterres said.
During the high level session, world leaders adopted a political declaration to accelerate the SDGs.
The 17 goals adopted in 2015 are aimed at driving economic prosperity and well-being for all people while protecting the environment.
The goals include ending extreme poverty and hunger, ensuring access to clean water and sanitation, green energy, quality education among others.
Kenya’s Economic Survey 2023 shows that the formal sector employment stood at 3.2 million persons in 2022 up from 3.1 million persons recorded in 2021.
The Survey shows that the wage employment in the modern sector increased by 3.8 per cent to 3.0 million persons in 2022 from 2.9 million persons in 2021.
Guterres however pointed out that there has been a number of breakthroughs in addressing the triple planetary crisis of climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss.
Those breakthroughs include the adoption of a global biodiversity framework in a convention held in Egypt.
Others include the establishment of the loss and damage fund, the start of negotiations to develop a global, legally binding instrument to address plastic pollution and recognition by the General Assembly of the human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment.
President William Ruto who is attending the Assembly said aligning global capital with SDGs is crucial for climate-positive growth.
Ruto was speaking when he co-chaired the UN General Assembly SDG dialogue on Applying Science and Technology Innovation and data for transformative action alongside Slovenia President Nataša Pirc Musar.
He called on the international community to mobilise and direct resources towards addressing impediments to attaining SDGs.
Ruto said many African countries have been unable to implement SDG due to hindrances such as debt, inflation, climate shocks and conflicts.
“By enhancing Africa’s access to financing from global development capital, we will unlock the continent’s vast potential, its natural resources, arable land and vibrant human capital,” he said.
UN General Assembly President Dennis Francis said a lot still needs to be done.
Francis said 1.2 billion people were still living in poverty as of 2022, and roughly eight per cent of the global population, or 680 million people, will still be facing hunger by the end of the decade.
“The international community cannot accept these numbers. With concerted, ambitious action, it is still possible that, by 2030, we could lift 124 million additional people out of poverty and ensure that some 113 million fewer people are malnourished," he said.
Guiterres warned that currently only 15 per cent of the goals are on track, while many are going in reverse.
The political declaration "can be a game-changer in accelerating SDG progress," he said.
It includes a commitment to financing for developing countries and clear support for his proposal for an SDG Stimulus of at least $500 billion (Sh72 trillion) annually, as well as an effective debt-relief mechanism.
It further calls for changing the business model of multilateral development banks to offer private finance at more affordable rates for developing countries, and endorses reform of the international finance architecture which he has labeled "outdated, dysfunctional and unfair."