SDG Pre-Moment: UN Resident Coordinator Roundtable - 'Ambition, Whole-of-society, Trust, and Action'
More than ever before, the dialogue between nations has been more crucial as it is today. As the General Assembly of the United Nations opens this week, it is an opportunity to share ideas and solutions to help solve the significant challenges humanity is living in now and the urgency to help get the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) back on track.
The SDGs, a world's to-do list for a better future
In all regions of the world, people are affected by multiple crisis: conflicts, Covid-19 and climate change. Ahead of the SDG Moment, an annual event at the United Nations convened by the Secretary-General, three UN Resident Coordinators and the UN Coordination Office (DCO) Policy and Programme Director talked about progress and solutions at the scale needed to lift everyone, everywhere.
"With a very young population in Uzbekistan, with more than 33% of the population under the age of 18 and 24% between 18 and 30, social transformation for the SDGs requires social services and jobs," warned Roli Asthana, Resident Coordinator in Uzbekistan.
The UN supports the Government in fostering private investments and fiscal benefits in education; structural reforms for job creation and increasing digitalization as a driver of economic growth, jobs, and productivity.
Roli pointed out that just three weeks ago, the Governments of Switzerland and Uzbekistan signed a bilateral agreement on the return of confiscated assets. "These funds belong to the people of Uzbekistan. The fund is placed in a multi-partner trust fund managed by the UN and designed to improve the lives of the people," she added.
Didier Trebucq, Resident Coordinator for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, lamented that data and fiscal space access is too limited to invest in social and economic transformation programmes or rebuild climate-resilient infrastructure.
“Let’s avoid Postmortem responses and Let’s Prevent”. The solution to build resilience is to invest in both built environment and people.
We have taken a multidimensional approach, focusing on the link between humanitarian and development, ensuring that the needs of the most vulnerable are at the heart of our crisis response efforts," Didier noted.
In the Eastern Caribbean, one in three people is under the age of 30 and youth unemployment averages 30 %, with unemployment among young women twice as high as that of young men. "We need to protect the most vulnerable and ensure that their needs are not forgotten in planning and that development policies are vital to achieving the 2030 Agenda.”
The UN has been working with the Government to invest in youth by strengthening entrepreneurial skills and employability and expanding social protection.
Lesotho's population is estimated at 2.2 million. Nearly 70 % live in rural areas. Healthy land is essential to lift people out of poverty, provide jobs and ensure food security, explained Amanda Khozi Mukwashi, Resident Coordinator in Lesotho.
“We have helped the Government reverse land degradation through rehabilitation. ReNOKA "We are a river" is a national programme and an active citizen movement to promote integrated watershed management” she stated. Citizen participation and engagement are helping the country move from policy to implementation.
The other major challenge is gender-based violence, stressed Amanda. "Three weeks ago, a 14-year-old girl was attacked, raped and murdered on her way to school. This is not an isolated incident. 64 % of people consider gender-based violence the most important issue for the Government and society to address," she noted.
Gender-based violence costs the country 5.5 % of its GDP. With support from the UN, the Government has brought together stakeholders from civil society, the private sector, the church, the security sector and the international development community to find sustainable solutions.
Speaking from UN Headquarters, Helena Fraser, DCO Director of Policy and Programmes reflected on the discussion: "What we just heard really illustrates the complexity of the challenges but also the many ways the UN is helping countries achieve the SDGs.”
"We are really at a point today where we need to "rescue the SDGs", she said. "I see four key priorities we need to address: Recovering from the pandemic; Addressing the food, energy and financial crises; Investing in people through education and social protection; and Advancing climate action."
The critical point is: How do we advance these priorities in a world beset by "complex uncertainty" on so many fronts?, asked Helena.
“The 2030 Agenda defines our roadmap”, she added “We must invest in people, foster partnerships, expand innovation, and protect the planet. Turbocharging SDG action is the most effective way to ensure peace and prosperity for future generations."