Securing sustainable future: UN SDG Summit this September

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The United Nations will convene the SDG Summit during 18-19 September 2023 in New York, during the General Assembly’s high-level week. With the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at midpoint, world leaders will carry out a comprehensive review of the 17 SDGs, respond to the impact of multiple and interlocking crises facing the world and provide high-level political guidance on transformative and accelerated actions towards the target year of 2030. 

    The 2023 SDG Summit will mark the beginning of a new phase of accelerated progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals with high-level political guidance on transformative and accelerated actions leading up to 2030. Convened by the President of the General Assembly, the Summit will mark the half-way point to the deadline set for achieving the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.
It will respond to the impact of multiple and interlocking crises facing the world and is expected to reignite a sense of hope, optimism, and enthusiasm for the 2030 Agenda. It was accepted globally that the Agenda-2030 at the halftime mark was in deep peril: for the first time in decades, development progress is reversing under the combined impacts of climate disasters, military conflicts, economic downturn and lingering post-pandemic effects.
However, the coming SDG summit serves as a rallying cry to recharge momentum, for world leaders to come together, to reflect on where we stand and resolve to do more. The UN authorities claim that the summit will “recommit to a vision of the future that ensures no one is left behind” keeping in mind fundamental shifts in commitment, solidarity, financing and actions the summit “must put us back on track to end poverty, realize just societies and reset a balanced relationship with the natural world”.
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Objectives and expected outcomes
At the summit, global community, both collectively and by separate countries, has an opportunity to place the world on a sustainable development path. Leaders are unanimous that the international community can seize the opportunity to make significant transformations for an “integrated SDG implementation” and in the ways the societies produce, consume and share existing benefits and risks.
The summit is envisaged to be forward-looking and action-oriented, with the aim of accelerating international action to improve people’s lives and reinvigorating the sense of hope, optimism and enthusiasm that prevailed at the time of the SDGs adoption at the end of 2015.
It is expected that the summit will adopt a concise and action-oriented political declaration as its outcome document.

For example, the UN Secretary-General has urged world leaders to deliver a Rescue Plan for People and Planet at the summit through deliverables in three areas.
= First, he requested countries to deliver global commitments to the SDGs, including through an SDG Stimulus by massively scaling up financing and other measures, such as debt relief.
= Second, he urged world leaders to convey a National Commitment to SDG Transformation; this could include clear benchmarks to further reduce poverty and inequality levels by 2027 and 2030, in tandem with nationally determined climate contributions.
= Third, all countries are urged to fully engage their domestic constituencies, particularly civil society and the private sector in their summit’s preparations.

Six items for discussion
1. Scaling up actions on key transitions to accelerate SDG progress
Achieving the SDGs by 2030 requires key transitions pursued through bold decisions, a surge in investment, and long-term holistic approaches. This Leaders’ Dialogue will concentrate on policy actions and investment pathways to drive these transitions that will act as multipliers to advance progress across the SDGs, including in areas such as energy, digitalization, education, social protection, the triple planetary crisis and food security.
Guiding questions to serve as the basis for these commitments:
• What actions have been successful in bringing about transitions for sustainable development?
• How can these actions be scaled up to unlock the rapid and deep transitions needed to deliver the SDGs?
• How can multi-stakeholder partnerships and collaboration contribute to SDG progress through key transitions?

    2. Building resilience and leaving no one behind
This item’s discussion will consider the profiles of resilience that demonstrate humanity’s capacity to overcome adversity. The world must act to tackle the drivers of socio-economic inequalities within and between countries, and improve the well-being of people (e.g. especially marginalized and vulnerable groups) and contribute to inclusiveness and resilience globally.
Local and indigenous approaches to building resilience and wellbeing are important in this regard: hence, the dialogue will also address disaster risk reduction and disaster resilience as well as advancing the SDGs in crisis and humanitarian settings.
Guiding questions to serve as the basis for these commitments:
• How can rapid technological change enhance resilience and ensure a people-centered and human rights-based approach to sustainable development?
• What concrete and ambitious actions can be pursued for safeguarding the societies’ wellbeing? • How can child-sensitive and gender-responsive approaches be bolstered and brought to scale, especially focusing on the needs of youth?

    3. Applying science, technology, innovation and data for transformative action
The world has been equipped with adequate levels of knowledge, technologies, and resources that are unprecedented in history. Yet the potential for science, technology, innovation and data to be applied to the SDGs is vastly under-utilized. Systemic and contextual barriers that stand in the way of their effective and equitable utilization also need to be identified and eliminated, including with respect to the participation of women, girls and minority groups in STI.
Hence, the dialogue will facilitate a discussion on the most effective entry points to bring to bear scientific knowledge, technologies and data in accelerating SDG implementation.
Guiding questions to serve as the basis for these commitments:
• How to advance innovative approaches and solutions to the application of new technologies and practices to accelerate and scale up SDG achievement?
• How can science, technology, innovation and data be applied coherently and strategically to make game-changing transitions?
• What measures can be taken to strengthen the capacity of developing countries in utilizing science, technology, innovation, and data for transformative action?

    4. Strengthening integrated policies and public institutions for achieving the SDGs
This discussion will serve to advance policymaking which takes into account interlinkages between the SDGs and spillover effects, while strengthening public institutions. A central tenet of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a holistic approach to SDG implementation. This includes harnessing synergies where action in one area can also generate positive impacts in another, while also addressing trade-offs.
Guiding questions to serve as the basis for these commitments:
• What capacities are needed to further strengthen integrated approaches for action across the SDGs, and what are the major obstacles?
• How to ensure that SDG transformations effectively deal with cross-dimensional impacts?
• How to enable public institutions to better apply integrated policies and manage the trade-offs?
• How shall the UN and governments benefit from the contributions of civil society and other stakeholders in a more efficient and inclusive manner?

    5. Unity and solidarity: strengthening the multilateral system for enhanced support, cooperation and follow-up and review on the SDGs
The international community needs to deliver on the outstanding promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Yet recent global shocks have highlighted the weaknesses and inequities of the current multilateral system. This discussion will contribute to strengthening unity and multilateralism, particularly through international cooperation and trust-building, including follow-up measures depicted in the UN  Secretary-General’s report on “Our Common Agenda”. It will consider avenues and opportunities to augment the follow-up and review of SDG progress; the UN member states can also give guidance to facilitate the continued strengthening of the United Nations Development System to support the transformative changes envisioned in the 2030 Agenda.
Guiding questions to serve as the basis for these commitments:
• How can the UN system work better to accelerate the achievement of the SDGs?
• What areas of follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs could be strengthened for the greatest impact on delivery?
• How can the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development be urgently revitalized?

   6. Mobilizing finance and investments and the means of implementing SDGs
The dialogue in this item will address finance, investments and means of implementation for SDG achievement. There is a need to match abundance and responsibility with global, national and local commitments to deliver on financing, galvanize leadership and restore the trust that will place the world on course to achieve the SDGs by 2030.
The UN Secretary-General has encouraged the member states to deliver on the “SDG Stimulus”, to ensure that developing countries can deliver on the SDGs and to advance deep reforms of the international financial architecture. This Dialogue is also conceived to connect the SDG Summit with the High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development to be convened during the General Assembly High-level Week in September 2023.
Guiding questions to serve as the basis for these commitments:
• What immediate measures can be taken to implement the SDG stimulus, especially on debt treatment and providing long term and affordable liquidity, including through investments?
• How to generate political momentum for reforming the international financial architecture to make it fair and better aligned with the objectives of sustainable development?

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