The world is at a critical moment to deliver on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said on Wednesday, during a virtual discussion with European Parliament Vice-President Heidi Hautala.
Multilateral engagement is key to responding to the pandemic and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the deputy chief highlighted the importance of the UN’s strategic partnership with the EU.
“It is a critical moment for global action to deliver on the 2030 Agenda. The UN is eager to strengthen this strategic partnership with the EU to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals, and the work is more urgent than ever”, she said.
Decade of Action
The discussion with Hautala focused on the ‘Decade of Action’, an ambitious global effort to achieve the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, which commit among other things, to eradicating poverty and achieving sustainable development by 2030 worldwide.
With less than ten years left to go, many of the goals are still far from being met, including those related to climate and environment, socio-economic inequalities, and human rights.
“Progress has been achieved in some areas – improving maternal and child health, expanding access to electricity, and increasing women’s representation in government. But some of these advances are offset elsewhere, by growing food insecurity, deteriorations of the natural environment, and persistent and pervasive inequalities”, Hautala said.
The COVID-19 pandemic is further threatening progress made towards achieving the 2030 Agenda.
“The pandemic has claimed more than 2.5 million lives and caused an unprecedented socioeconomic crisis that has threatened decades of our advances”, said Ms. Mohammed, who is also Chair of the UN Sustainable Development Group. “It has highlighted and exacerbated pre-existing inequalities in Europe and across the world, but it has also underscored the relevance and the urgency of the Sustainable Development Goals.”
Bold policy choices
COVID-19 recovery plans are an opportunity to invest in the SDGs, including protecting people and the environment against the impacts of climate change, biodiversity loss, and reaching net zero emissions by 2050.
“We believe delivering together on a better future requires bold policy choices that put the SDGs, gender equality and the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate at the heart of the pandemic’s response and recovery”, Ms. Mohammed said.
She also welcomed recent decisions made by the EU such as its European Green Deal, an action plan from the European Commission which commits the EU to becoming climate-neutral by 2050.
“The European Union has called for ambitious goals and climate commitments ahead of COP26 and for an ambitious post-2020 global biodiversity framework (…) We are eager to work together towards these achievements”, she said.
Key moments throughout 2021, including the 26th UN Climate Change Conference, the UN Food Systems Summit and Generation Equality Forum, provide opportunities for the UN and EU to come together.
“We have a chance to use this crisis to transform our world for current and future generations, but we need to seize the moment. Let us work together, reignite the decade of action and hopefully build a better world differently for everyone,” the deputy chief concluded.