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The recent Sustainable Development Goals Summit, which has just concluded in New York, was presented as a milestone to accelerate actions in favor of people and the planet. It was time to demand that world leaders move from words to action. The Secretary General of the UN, António Guterres, was clear in his speech: “Currently only 15% of the sustainable development goals that we set in 2015 are on track and what is worse: many are even going backwards.” However, despite this urgency to act, political differences between countries continue to hinder basic consensus.
This last summit also left points and demands that cannot continue to be ignored: pressure increased to introduce profound reforms in the United Nations and international financial institutions, discussions on the acceleration of sustainable development are increasingly focused on its financing. , there will be no acceleration of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) if the climate crisis and the need to generate more and better data for evidence-based decision making are not urgently addressed.
Accepting the above and putting it into practice requires that each group of countries assume their responsibilities. We will not have, for example, the data we need if the most advanced countries do not transfer their technology to those who need it, including digital technology and artificial intelligence.
At this moment in history, the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean are called to play a leading role: Colombia seeks to resume the prominent role it had in proposing the idea of the SDGs, Cuba presides over the G77+ group, China, Chile holds the presidency of the UN Ecosoc and Trinidad and Tobago holds the presidency of the 78th session of the General Assembly. Brazil will host the G-20 and COP 30 meetings.
As the sustainable development agenda reaches a turning point, the key question that will have to be faced is how to move from agreement on problems to transformative global action based on a clear and compelling vision for change. It is urgent to overcome the uncertainty about how to get to the place we want in 2030. It is not just about complying with political agreements, but about ensuring a dignified, fair and equitable survival of societies and the planet’s resources in the long term.
How can we achieve it? There are four key elements we need: political decision, financing, better data and action-oriented work. The steps we must take seem more complex than they really are, but what is truly difficult is the world that awaits us if we do not take them. Today the question about whether we still have time to achieve the SDGs in 2030 is repeated in the media and international meeting rooms, but that is not what is truly important.
What we should ask ourselves is whether we can put the world on a path towards sustainable development, modifying its current course, reforming our institutions and work dynamics to create alternative futures to this present. It must be done urgently, but we have time for it.
Philipp Schönrock is executive director of Cepei.
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