SDG Summit 23 September 2019

This week, Heads of State and Government gather at the United Nations Headquarters in New York to comprehensively review progress of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It is the first UN summit on the SDGs since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda in September 2015.

As a plan for people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership, the 2030 Agenda aims to free humanity from poverty and secure our planet for future generations. There is no doubt that we’re making progress in some areas but progress is slowing in many others. No country is on track to achieve all of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

While poverty is the greatest global challenge we face, assessments show that we are at risk of missing the eradication target. Hunger is on the rise. Inequality in wealth, incomes and opportunities are increasing in many countries. More frequent and intense natural disasters, persistent conflict and the related humanitarian crises threaten to reverse much of the progress made in recent decades.

CBM sees an urgent need to accelerate action on all levels and by all stakeholders if the vision and goals of the 2030 Agenda are to be fulfilled. The SDGs are laudable aspirations and they provide a focal point for global development efforts and opportunities for citizens to hold their governments accountable.

Each of the 193 countries that signed on to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has committed to producing a report on implementation of the SDGs (a Voluntary National Review) at least twice over the lifetime of the Agenda. The Voluntary National Reviews are to reflect a country’s efforts and achievements against the SDGs. Australia delivered its first Voluntary National Review at the UN High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) on 17 July 2018.

With the SDGs applying to all UN states the message to humanity is clear – we are all in this together and we can all do better. We need to grapple with the big global questions, moving away from the increasing tendency to be isolationist, parochial and pretending the huge issues of our time don’t exist.  Global problems need global answers and the only way to find those answers is to work together.

When our economy starts to look shaky, when we are ravaged by drought, when our local and national challenges seem insurmountable, it is easy to give up on having a global story of any kind, and instead turn inward. But this is only possible as long as it isn’t our shoreline disappearing in rising seas or our families trapped in a country torn by conflict.  When national interests become dominant it can lead to disengagement globally. We need to think big enough to engage and understand better, to change the minds of others and to seek strong leadership from those representing us.

As individuals, communities and nations sharing a global neighbourhood, we need to pledge to make the coming decade one of action and delivery. We still need local action to spur global action and last week’s climate strike was a powerful example of this. Our governments need to launch more ambitious and accelerated responses to reach our common vision by 2030 and we need to demand this of them. We need to see more tangible steps to support the most vulnerable people and countries and to reach the furthest behind first. We hope Australia will commit to this, this week.

As our representatives gather in New York and recommit to the goals of the 2030 Agenda we need to make sure we’re all playing our part. Global problems need global solutions as well as local action and CBM stands ready. Ready to keep our government accountable to the commitments they make to each and every one of us to build a better world. Ready to make this change happen locally in the poorest countries, amongst the most marginalised people. CBM knows the world we want to see is one where no one is left behind.