UN says COVID-19 recovery efforts should accelerate SDG actions

17 Jul 2020, 12:00 am
Financial Nigeria


The UN said the world was off track in achieving the SDGs even before the COVID-19 crisis erupted.

Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General, United Nations

United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, said on Thursday that the road to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 is "now even steeper.” Speaking at the end of the annual High-Level Political Forum (HLPF), Mohammed acknowledged that the outbreak of COVID-19 has compounded the difficulty in achieving the 2030 Agenda.

The HLPF meets annually for eight days under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), to follow-up and review progress on the SDGs. The 2020 forum held virtually on July 7-16, featuring 150 speakers, including one prime minister and 31 ministerial officials.

In a statement released Friday, the UN said the world was off track in achieving the SDGs even before the COVID-19 crisis erupted. However, increasing investment in public services; showing solidarity on financing; reshaping how people work, learn, live and consume; and listening to young people who are demanding justice and equality, can help to get things back on course.

“If we do all of this – consciously, concertedly, cooperatively – we can build a better world, our shared destination,” said Mohammed, who is a former Nigerian Minister of Environment. "As an international community, we must rise to the test of this pivotal moment.”

About 47 countries presented their Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) at the 2020 HLPF, according to the UN statement. In the lead up to 2020 HLPF, the UN said there were a total of 182 bold commitments on the SDG Acceleration Actions portal, representing a 35 per cent increase in submissions and a 21 per cent increase in published actions within the last two months.

As of today, there are a total of 184 actions on the online database of SDG commitments. Any initiative voluntarily undertaken to accelerate the SDG implementation by a government or any non-state actor – individually or in partnership – is an SDG Acceleration Action.

Mona Juul, ECOSOC’s President, said the recovery from COVID-19 provides “a rare opportunity to have a new normal.” Outlining areas for accelerated progress, she highlighted the importance of creating integrated food systems to drive inclusive growth, agriculture, sustainability, achieve zero hunger, and greater educational access for girls, which in turn, will reduce infant and maternal mortality.

"We must respond to COVID-19 in ways that are aligned with the 2030 Agenda, if we hope to accelerate and maintain social and economic progress,” said Juul. “Recovering and building back better will require cooperation, collaboration and dialogue among multiple stakeholders to ensure no one is left behind, including the most vulnerable."

Mohammed also echoed the need for solidarity. She called for foresight on financing and greater investments in social protections, health systems, education, water, sanitation and digital connectivity.