Eradication of poverty an indispensable goal, says declaration of Sustainable Development Goals summit

Transfer of funds to developing countries, restructuring of debt, and greater adherence to multilateral norms and regulations without resorting to hegemonic practices are essential preconditions for the achievement of SDG targets

September 19, 2023 by Peoples Dispatch
SDG summit
President of the UN Economic and Social Council Paula Narvaez speaks during the Sustainable Development Goals Summit at the UN headquarters in New York, September 18, 2023. (Photo: Xinhua/Li Rui)

Reminding the global community that persistent world hunger is “a shocking stain on humanity and epic human rights violation,” UN Secretary General António Guterres on Monday, September 18, called on the world powers to “keep your promise to the billions of people whose hopes, dreams and future you hold in your hands.” 

Guterres was addressing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) summit organized on the sidelines of the annual UN General Assembly (UNGA) meeting on September 18 and 19 to review progress on the goals.

Various leaders apart from Guterres addressed the summit on the first day, including UNGA President Dennis Francis from Trinidad and Tobago, UN Social and Economic Council (ECOSOC) President Paula Narvaez, and some head of states, including Cuban President and current head of the G77 group, Miguel Díaz-Canel.  

The SDG summit adopted a political declaration which states that “eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement of sustainable development.”  

The SDGs were first adopted in 2015 and include 17 goals, ranging from eradication of poverty, hunger, inequalities in social and economic status, to creating better jobs and addressing the climate crisis by 2030. They identify 169 specific targets such as increasing school enrollment and immunization, ensuring better wages, and bridging the digital divide. 

Commenting on the progress to achieve these goals, Guterres underlined that only 15% of all SDG targets were on track and the world is likely to miss most of the targets, with some even going into reverse. 

According to UN estimates, nearly 575 million people will still be poor and over 600 million will be facing extreme hunger by 2030 at the current pace of fulfillment of the SDGs. 

Lack of cooperation and solidarity hamper work on SDGs

Noting that at least 1.2 billion people across the world were still living in poverty in 2022 and over 680 million were facing hunger, UNGA President Francis said that developing countries need an annual USD 500 billion stimulus to efficiently work on the SDGs. 

The political declaration also raises the need for effective debt restructuring and reforms in the functioning of multilateral development banks and the international financial architecture as priority areas to assist developing countries to achieve their SDG targets by 2030.   

The declaration notes that the world today is facing numerous problems and, instead of making progress, “millions of people have fallen into poverty, hunger and malnutrition are becoming more prevalent.” It adds that “the impacts of climate change are more pronounced” today and all these factors have led to a rise in global inequality. 

It also emphasizes that global problems are exacerbated due to “weakened international solidarity and a shortfall of trust to jointly overcome” them.  

While addressing the summit, Cuban President Díaz-Canel noted that “this mid term review of the 2030 agenda takes place at the time of extremely critical juncture, in which developing countries face multiple challenges and an unjust economic order that perpetuates inequalities and poverty.”

Transfer of funds from developed countries to developing ones and “a better global sovereign debt architecture with the participation of the south is necessary. It will allow for fair, balanced and development oriented treatment,” Díaz-Canel said. 

He also emphasized that the UN must reject hegemonic practices such as unilateral trade restrictions and sanctions, imposed by some countries such as the US on developing countries, as they prevent and delay efforts to achieve the SDGs.