Kicking off the UN General Assembly (UNGA) High-level Week, the SDG Summit adopted a political declaration reaffirming Member States’ continued resolve and shared commitment to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its SDGs. The declaration highlights progress made and gaps and challenges that remain, and issues a call to action to turn our world towards 2030
Every four years, the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) convenes twice: under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in July; and as the SDG Summit at the level of Heads of State and Government under the auspices of the UNGA in September. When the HLPF convenes twice in the same year, the Forum adopts “only one negotiated political declaration, covering the different and complementary functions of both sessions of the forum.”
The 2023 Summit was the second meeting of the HLPF to convene under the auspices of the UNGA since the 2030 Agenda and its 17 SDGs were adopted in 2015. It marked the half-way point to the deadline for achieving the Goals, seeking to provide renewed impetus for accelerated action.
Negotiations on the political declaration had been co-facilitated over the course of several months by Qatar and Ireland. Earlier this month, the co-facilitators reported to the UNGA President that the “broadest possible agreement” on the political declaration had been reached.
The Summit also featured a fireside chat on what it will take to keep the SDG promise, and six leaders’ dialogues on:
• scaling up actions on key transitions to accelerate SDG progress;
• building resilience and leaving no one behind;
• applying science, technology, innovation, and data for transformative action;
• strengthening integrated policies and public institutions for achieving the SDGs;
• strengthening the multilateral system for enhanced support, cooperation, follow-up, and review; and
• mobilizing finance and investments and the means of implementation for SDG achievement.
During closing, UN Under-Secretary- General for Economic and Social Affairs Li Junhua noted convergence on:
• building resilience to address the existential threat of climate change;
• expanding social protection to leave no one behind;
• localizing the SDGs in conflictafflicted and fragile states;
• pursuing transformative action through science, technology, and innovation;
• leveraging digitalization to speed up progress on the SDGs;
• strengthening integrated policies and mainstreaming SDG implementation at the national level;
• renewing multilateralism as an imperative for effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda;
• mobilizing finance and investment, including through the SDG Stimulus, climate finance, debt relief, and a reform of the international finance architecture; and
• going beyond Gross Domestic Product (GDP), including through considering the multidimensional vulnerability index.
The Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) reports that there was “a notable sigh of relief” when the declaration was adopted without objections during the opening segment of the SDG Summit. However, some felt this was a reflection of “how low the bar is in terms of expectations.” An observer pointed to the absence of the Heads of State of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. Delegates forwarded the political declaration (A/HLPF/2023/L.1) to the UNGA, recommending it be endorsed.
Ahead of the SDG Summit, UN Secretary- General António Guterres urged world leaders to bring forward national and global commitments to drive SDG transformation. Representing another outcome of the Summit, these commitments will be registered on the SDG Summit Acceleration and Accountability Platform. The Secretary-General encouraged Member States to report on their implementation in the context of the voluntary national review (VNR) process.
The SDG Summit was preceded by an SDG Action Weekend, which served as a platform for stakeholder engagement to maximise the impact of the Summit. Other major events taking place during the 2023 UNGA High-level Week included the Climate Ambition Summit, high-level meetings on health and financing for development (FfD), and a preparatory ministerial meeting for the 2024 Summit of the Future.