The following are remarks by UN Under-Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, as prepared for delivery, during the ‘Sustainable Development and Sustainable Development’ session at the Heads of Government Meeting preceding the Ministers’ Meeting Foreign Affairs of the Commonwealth, in Kigali on June 23:
I am delighted to be here and to contribute to this important gathering of the Commonwealth, with so many friends and colleagues in person, at this critical moment in our world. The 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals, adopted almost seven years ago, were born out of the belief that sustainable and inclusive development – the theme of today’s session – is the only sustainable development. We are almost halfway through the 2030 Agenda.
Each of Certainly, we have made progress. But, I think it’s fair to say that this is not the “halfway” world we imagined in 2015. We had not considered the COVID-19 health pandemic and its dire social and economic, nor the war in Ukraine. These two acute crises come on top of the devastation caused by the current triple environmental crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution – and the reality that we weren’t doing what we needed to do long before the pandemic hit. don’t knock.
These crises are alarm bells, reminding us that we must act together in our fully globalized and interdependent world. Disease knows no borders, conflict in one region contributes to hunger in another, and environmental degradation and unsustainable consumption patterns threaten the lives and livelihoods of all.
Inequalities have widened, within countries and between countries. Women and young people have suffered disproportionately from the social and economic hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic, with lost education and employment opportunities, an upsurge in domestic violence and heavy care burdens.
We are also facing a “great financial divide”. While developed countries were able to borrow for their recovery at extremely low interest rates, most developing countries could not afford to do the same. These countries continue to face rising lending costs and have had to cut budgets for education and health and other investments in the Sustainable Development Goals.
And I don’t need to tell you in this room that the impacts of climate change are felt differently across the world. Four key climate change indicators set new records in 2021, with devastating consequences for small island developing states and other vulnerable countries.
In this work there is much to do, and I know the Commonwealth will play a leading role. The Commonwealth is a powerful example of the promise and potential of multilateralism – bringing to life the ideal of strength through cooperation. You are defined by your diversity.
Small Commonwealth states face myriad challenges, but they are also natural leaders in sustainable development and in the existential fight against climate change, providing moral leadership and implementing innovative approaches to adaptation. .
The Commonwealth Blue Charter is an example of the organization seizing the opportunities offered by the blue economy and showing that cooperation is the right approach to better manage our ocean for economic growth, improved livelihoods and the health of the ocean ecosystem.
The international community must also intervene. We must commit to a 1.5°C world, achieve net zero by 2050 and reduce global emissions by 45% in this decade. Emerging economies will need around $4 trillion a year in additional investment by 2030 if they are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and invest in climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts. It is more important than ever to respect the commitments made in terms of official development assistance (ODA).
The rapid transition to decarbonized energy systems is also essential. By 2025, we need to provide 500 million more people with access to electricity and 1 billion people with access to clean cooking solutions. We must also rapidly and significantly improve energy efficiency. To advance the energy transition, the Secretary-General has championed shifting fossil fuel subsidies to the vulnerable and tripling global investment in renewable energy. It can’t wait.
The United Nations development system works hand in hand with many Commonwealth countries to advance sustainable and inclusive development. For example, in Mozambique, the UN contributed to the new 20-year national development strategy in collaboration with a wide range of stakeholders, including the business sector and young people. The United Nations Country Team in the Pacific supported seven Commonwealth countries to develop ambitious national pathways for sustainable food systems. And the UN Country Team in Malawi implemented a joint program to promote integrated social protection with a focus on food security and leaving no one behind.
Furthermore, I am happy to say that the United Nations General Assembly is working on the development of a multidimensional vulnerability index. This type of index could provide a much fairer platform for vulnerable countries, especially small island states, to access much-needed concessional finance based on their vulnerabilities rather than on indices that are irrelevant to actual needs. . I urge you to participate actively in the General Assembly debate on the Multidimensional Vulnerability Index when it comes up for consideration later this year.
A remarkable 1 in 3 young people aged 15-29 live in the Commonwealth. With their great energy, open-mindedness and technological know-how, they will drive our transformation. I salute the tremendous efforts you are making to ensure that they are actively supported in their development and empowered to shape a sustainable and inclusive future.
The Secretary-General’s proposals in Our Common Agenda call for a transformed education system, an ambitious coalition to promote green and digital jobs, and efforts to break down barriers to youth political participation. I urge you all to actively engage in making these proposals a reality, especially in the lead up to the Transforming Education Summit in September. Young people inspire the work of the United Nations, and I know they also inspire and animate your work in the Commonwealth. We must support them.
In all of this important work, thank you for all that the Commonwealth does to advance sustainable and inclusive development. The United Nations remains committed to this collaboration with the Commonwealth. I wish you good luck in your deliberations.