UN Sustainable Development newsletter reproduced

 Up to date information on September activities  produced by the UN

On 18-19 September 2023, world leaders will gather at the SDG Summit in New York for the mid-point review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the implementation of its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Summit is expected to adopt a political declaration that will provide a road map for putting the world back on track to achieve the SDGs by their 2030 deadline. The Summit will be informed by the 2023 Global Sustainable Development Report prepared by an independent group of scientists and the 2023 Special Edition of the SDG Progress Report by the Secretary-General. More information about the 2023 SDG Summit is available on the website at: hlpf.un.org/sdg-summit

SDG Summit programme

In his letter of 17 July, the President of the General Assembly shared with Member States the programme of the SDG Summit

The opening of the Summit will feature statements by the President of the General Assembly, the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) and the President of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The political declaration will be adopted during the opening. 

Immediately following the opening, a setting-the-stage segment will take place with the participation of stakeholders, including the SDG Advocates, Independent Group of Scientists for the Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR), international financial institutions, as well as youth, civil society and private sector representatives. This segment will highlight what has been achieved, where we are lagging behind and what needs to be done to restore credibility to the promise of a sustainable transformation. 

The opening will be followed by a short plenary segment for group statements to hear the actions and commitments delivered on behalf of groups of States.

Following the plenary, six Leaders' Dialogues will be held to allow Heads of State and Government to set out concrete national commitments to SDG transformation. Each Leaders' Dialogue will be co-moderated by two States at the level of Head of State and Government. Participating States will intervene on the specific theme of the Leaders' Dialogue to share their concrete new commitments in the field of sustainability. 

The dialogues will also feature interventions from selected representatives of the UN system, intergovernmental organizations, the private sector, civil society and academia. Commitments and recommendations will be summarized and reported back during the closing segment.

Information about how to participate in the SDG Summit will be made available on the website shortly. Please note that participation will be limited due to heightened security arrangements that will be in place during the high-level week of the General Assembly.

Negotiations on the SDG Summit political declaration 

The process for the SDG Summit political declaration continues. The negotiations entered a near-final phase when the Co-Facilitators (the Permanent Representatives of Ireland and Qatar) circulated the draft declaration to delegations on 21 July, and the President of the General Assembly, in his cover letter, requested Member States to consider this final draft document with a focus on reaching compromise and consensus. 

The text stresses that the achievement of the SDGs is in peril and commits to bold, ambitious, accelerated, just and transformative actions. The text is substantially longer than the 2019 declaration, with a comprehensive Call to Action section of six pages. It expresses deep concern by the marked increase of the estimated SDG financing gap and breaks new ground in the prominence given to financing issues. Also new is a reference to realizing the benefits and addressing the challenges of artificial intelligence. In addition, the document commits to fully support the UN development system and looks forward to the Summit of the Future in 2024 and to the proposed world social summit in 2025. 

The informal consultations, which began with an opening meeting in February, concluded with closed meetings on 5 and 7 July. The consultations took place over eight meetings, with the participation of civil society during the open meetings, thus building on the precedent from the process for the 2019 political declaration. Member States and the Co-Facilitators had before them the special edition of the SDG Progress Report, the GSDR, a compilation of inputs from the ECOSOC subsidiary bodies and UN entities, and views compiled from the major groups and other stakeholders. 

The Co-Facilitators intend to consult further with Member States towards the end of August on the few sensitive area remaining, with a view to resolving all outstanding issues.

SDG Action Weekend

To generate additional opportunities for all actors at the SDG Summit, the United Nations will be convening an SDG Action Weekend at UN Headquarters on 16 and 17 September 2023. The SDG Action Weekend will consist of an SDG Mobilization Day (16 September) and an SDG Acceleration Day (17 September). A limited number of side events will be held on both days. All information about the SDG Action Weekend, including an open call for side events, can be found here

High-impact initiatives 

The UN system is mobilizing all relevant stakeholders around 12 high-impact initiatives as a contribution to the objectives of the SDG Summit and the call for accelerated and transformative action to achieve the SDGs by 2030. The initiatives are designed to generate targeted commitments and strengthened partnerships to support national-level implementation across six key sustainable development transitions (energy, education, food systems, social protection and jobs, digitalization, natural environment), five enablers (finance, trade, data, governance, localization) and the cross-cutting priority of gender equality.

The 12 high-impact initiatives will be the core area of focus during the acceleration-focused sessions on day two of the SDG Action Weekend, on 17 September. The day will profile a set of illustrative examples of countries or contexts where significant progress is being made, as well as coalitions of governments and stakeholders who commit to specific and tangible actions to scale the initiatives according to national priorities. Each high-impact initiative will feature in a 90-minute session to showcase commitments and map next steps. Follow-up to implementation and commitments made will be ongoing in the years ahead.

Member States and stakeholders interested to learn more on how participation across these initiatives may support their own priorities are encouraged to reach out directly to lead entities through the focal points as noted online at un.org/en/sdg-summit-2023/page/transformative-action. Member States can also indicate their preference in co-leading any of the high-impact initiatives, so that they become the champions for effective follow-up.

SDG Summit Acceleration and Accountability Platform 

Member States, the UN system and all stakeholders are called to deliver a “Rescue Plan for People and Planet” at the Summit, including by announcing commitments and initiatives that will help drive SDG transformation for inclusion and sustainability in the years ahead.

The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs has launched the SDG Summit Acceleration and Accountability Platform, which is open for registration of initiatives, actions, policies and commitments aimed at accelerating progress towards the SDGs and delivering the breakthroughs we need to transform our world by 2030.

•    Stakeholders are invited to register their commitments here: sdgs.un.org/SDGSummitActions/AccelerationActions
•    Governments are invited to register their commitments here: sdgs.un.org/SDGSummitActions/National  

Global Sustainable Development Report

The Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR) was mandated by UN Member States to be written quadrennially by an independent group of 15 scientists from the social and natural sciences appointed by the Secretary-General to inform the SDG Summit review of progress on the 2030 Agenda. The GSDR, envisioned as an “assessment of assessments,” brings together the latest scholarship on sustainable development from a wide range of sources and disciplines. 

The 2023 GSDR will be officially launched in New York in September 2023. An advance unedited version has been available since March 2023 to support Member States in their negotiations of the SDG Summit political declaration.  

On 17 July during the HLPF ministerial opening, a GSDR fireside chat with co-chairs of the independent group of scientists Ms. Imme Scholz (Germany) and Mr. Jaime Miranda (Peru), allowed for a sneak peak of the report’s key messages. The 2023 GSDR builds on the 2019 GSDR and addresses essential transformations within six systems covering many SDGs or “entry points” – human wellbeing and capabilities, sustainable and just economies, food systems and healthy nutrition, energy decarbonization with universal access, urban and peri-urban development, and the global environmental commons. 
The 2023 GSDR includes new evidence about how SDGs are interlinked in these entry points, noting that transformations will have different contours depending on the country and region. Both the 2019 and 2023 GSDRs identify “levers”, or tools, and approaches that will drive transformation – governance, economy and finance, science and technology, individual and collective action, and (in the 2023 report) capacity building. The 2023 GSDR explores how these levers can be applied in novel ways to steer transformations through three phases: emergence, acceleration and stabilization along an “S-curve”.

The 2023 GSDR’s call to action elaborates five key interventions:
•    Establish an SDG Transformation Framework for Accelerated Action by 2024
•    Build capacity for transformation
•    Push transformation by activating synergies in six entry points
•    Improve critical underlying conditions for SDG implementation
•    Transform science for sustainable development.

Outcomes of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development 

The High-level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development, under the auspices of ECOSOC, was convened on 10-19 July 2023.

Over 100 countries were joined by businesses, civil society organizations, youth and other stakeholders during the eight days of the Forum to share successes, experiences and lessons learnt on the SDGs. The Forum stressed the critical need for bold and transformative action at all levels to accelerate SDG implementation and achievement.   

The HLPF, which was also a pre-event for the SDG Summit in September, included a general debate on the theme “Building momentum towards the SDG Summit”. Member States gave their views and perspectives on the Summit and what it needs to advance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

The HLPF reviewed this year the specific SDGs related to sustainable energy, clean water, infrastructure and innovation, sustainable cities and partnerships. The thematic sessions saw a total of 134 speakers, including experts and high-level government officials. 38 countries and the European Union presented their voluntary national reviews (VNRs) at the Forum, demonstrating the actions they are taking to achieve the SDGs.

20 youth speakers participated across all sessions. Additionally, more than 800 representatives of the major groups and other stakeholders and ECOSOC-accredited NGOs joined the event and contributed to the interactive dialogues on the theme, SDGs under review, preparations for the SDG Summit and VNRs.

Other events organized during the HLPF included 12 high-level special events, 204 side events (141 in-person, 63 virtual), 16 VNR Labs and 19 exhibitions on site

The President of ECOSOC will issue a President’s summary of the HLPF, which will be made available in the coming days. 

Fraudulent email warning

The Secretariat of the SDG Summit has been made aware of fraudulent emails that are being circulating regarding the SDG Summit, including preparatory events. Please consult the SDG Summit website for accurate details about the Summit and its preparations.

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