Photo (right to left): ECOSOC President Inga Rhonda King; Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed; Under-Secretary-General of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), Liu Zhenmin. Credit: UN - Photo: 2019

Community-Based Engagement Critical to Achieving SDGs

By Santo D. Banerjee

NEW YORK (IDN) – The eight-day High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development was eclipsed by reports indicating that current efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are being undermined by climate change and escalating inequalities. Yet, the situation is not irredeemable, concluded the Forum and called for an increased critical role for local communities and civil society in getting the world back on track to achieving the SDGs by 2030.

The Forum that wrapped up on July 18 brought together more than 2000 participants, including 125 heads and deputy heads of state and government, ministers, vice-ministers and other ministerial-level officials. 47 countries presented their voluntary national reviews (VNRs) on the progress achieved so far in implementing the SDGs.

The HLPF that focussed on progress on specific goals relating to education, economic growth and decent jobs, climate change, good governance and justice, and partnership, recognized that action on the local level was of paramount importance.

“The 2030 Agenda has inspired an impressive response from governments, the private sector, local authorities, civil society, the scientific community and many more,” stressed UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) President Inga Rhonda King. “We need to recognize and give space for the actions of the multiple actors who are embracing the SDGs.”

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that development must focus on empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality. “The evidence is clear,” he said.  “Development is not sustainable if it is not fair and inclusive – and rising inequality hinders long-term growth.”

He added that there was a need for the “Inclusion Imperative” to ensure that all countries and communities benefit from the successful implementation of the SDGs.  This would include more public and private investments for the SDGs; shifting to a greener economy; ensuring that global migration is safe and orderly and strengthening global commitment to end conflict and displacements.

Since 2013, when the first HLPF was convened, more than 142 countries have presented the work they are doing to achieve the SDGs.

“Many countries have been mainstreaming the SDGs into their planning documents or sustainable development policies. Many local governments have taken the initiative to implement the SDGs systematically, in some cases going further than national governments,” noted Liu Zhenmin, Under-Secretary-General of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA).

The Forum also revealed that communities are driving change. New York City, under its OneNYC 2050, is garnering support  to combat climate change, fight injustice and ensure a safer, healthier city for all of its constituents. Bristol in Britain established the Bristol SDG Alliance which is working to raise awareness about the SDGs in the city. The Helsinki City Strategy 2017-2021 seeks to create a more agile and service-oriented environment for its people.

ECOSOC President King stressed: “We understand the strategic importance of achieving the SDGs and halting climate change. But to deliver, we need to move out of our comfort zones in pursuing new ways of collective action”.

The High-Level Political Forum is the forerunner to the SDG Summit on September 24-25, where heads of government and state are expected to announce accelerated actions to achieve the SDGs and ensure that no one is left behind.

UN General Assembly President Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garcés said the SDG Summit in September is more than a two-day High-Level event. “It is the outcome of many years of our efforts that began even before 2015, at local, national and multilateral levels”. “Indeed, it is the greatest milestone since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, and the best opportunity to reaffirm and fulfill our commitments to our people,” she added.

In that context, Guterres also called on “leaders to come to the September summits not with beautiful speeches, but with concrete actions, plans and commitments to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement on climate change”.

The SDG Summit is part of the High-Level Week at the 74th session of the UN General Assembly that is expected to see countries and individuals take decisive action to improve conditions for people and planet. It will culminate in a political declaration.

That week will also feature the the UN Climate Action Summit and High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage on September 23, the High-Level Dialogue on Financing for Development on September 26 and the High-Level Midterm Review of the Samoa Pathway on September 27. [IDN-InDepthNews – 20 July 2019]

Photo (right to left): ECOSOC President Inga Rhonda King; Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed; Under-Secretary-General of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), Liu Zhenmin. Credit: UN

IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate. –

Send your

Subscribe to IDN Newsletter:

Related Posts

Begin typing your search term above and press enter to search. Press ESC to cancel.

Back To Top