The world’s people are demanding “transformative change that is fair and sustainable,” Secretary-General António Guterres said on Tuesday, calling on government leaders to use the upcoming slate of key United Nations meetings in September to “kickstart a decade of delivery and action for people and planet.”
His call for concrete action was the cornerstone of his address to ministers attending the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) – the main UN platform monitoring follow-up on States’ actions towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Mr. Guterres observed that the HLPF was “zeroing-in” on the power of SDG action “to support empowerment, equality and inclusion”, and urged the participants to “ratchet up the ambition and highlight the imperative of inclusion”.
“The evidence is clear: Development is not sustainable if it is not fair and inclusive – and rising inequality hinders long-term growth,” he said.
Alongside the impacts of globalization and rapid technological change, “inequality raises economic anxiety, erodes public trust, and undermines social cohesion, human rights, peace and prosperity”, according to the UN chief.
Meanwhile, “mounting evidence” illustrates the “transformative results of equality and inclusion”, particularly of women, in higher gross domestic product, greater stability, and enhanced private sector performance and institutional effectiveness, he pointed out.
“For all these reasons, the 2030 Agenda places the goals of inclusion, empowerment and equality, leaving no one behind at the heart of our efforts”, Mr. Guterres stated.
Yet, four years after its adoption, “we are not yet on track and must step it up”, he said, citing extreme poverty, inequality, global unemployment, gender inequality and climate change, among others.
Agenda 2030 and the ‘Inclusion Imperative’
And in all these areas, he acknowledged, “the poorest and most vulnerable people and countries will suffer the most”.
The UN chief drew attention to “four key conclusions” to advance the “Inclusion Imperative”, beginning with "dramatically" scaling up SDG investments as "our best tool of prevention".
Secondly, he emphasized that “global climate action must be advanced in a manner that reduces inequality”, including by shifting to a greener economy that could create 24 million jobs globally by 2030 while safeguarding the 1.2 billion jobs that depend on a stable and healthy environment.
Next, he said that “We must step up implementation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration”, as people whose contribution to sustainable development, in countries of origin and destination, “is absolutely critical”.
And fourth, leaving no one behind and achieving the SDGs “is inherently linked to human rights, diplomacy and prevention”, according to the UN chief, who reinforced the need for “a strengthened global commitment to end conflicts and displacement and tackle root causes”.
He stressed that the conclusions emerging from the Forum “are rooted in the pressing need to address the Inclusion Imperative and provide us with important insights as we look ahead to September”.