Road to 2030: Leaders at UN meet call for renewed commitment to eradicate poverty

Sluggish progress in poverty eradication derails other SDGs, including those related to hunger and malnutrition, health, education & climate change 

By Kiran Pandey
Published: Sunday 23 July 2023

World leaders gathered at the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) on July 18, 2023, called for a renewed commitment to eradicating poverty — the most fundamental challenge listed in the United Nations-mandated Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

HLPF is the central global platform for follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and SDGs. The event was held in New York from July 10-19 under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council.

Focused on the theme of Sustainable and Resilient Recovery from the COVID-19 Pandemic, this year’s HLPF recognised the unprecedented challenges created by the global health crisis, especially those related to poverty. The leaders at the HLF pointed out the unsatisfactory progress made towards achieving the goal.

Almost halfway to meeting the 2030 deadline, countries are way off track from achieving poverty eradication goals, according to the latest UN SDG progress report. Nearly 1.1 billion of the 6.1 billion people across 110 countries are poor, noted the UNDP’s latest multi-dimensional poverty estimates.

Also read: How India remains poor: Has poverty become ‘hereditary’

Sluggish progress in poverty eradication can also derail several other SDGs, including those related to ending hunger and malnutrition (goal 2), health for all (goal 3) and equitable quality education (goal 4), access to clean water and sanitation (goal 6) and climate change (goal 13).

The year 2023 may be the last chance to commit to accelerated action toward realising the targets, the speakers at the forum emphasised.

Poverty and inequality are currently rising across Asia and the Pacific, said Pagnathun Theng, representing Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development. A recent estimate by the Asian Development Bank pitched the COVID-19 pandemic as one of the reasons for this. The pandemic has derailed the fight against poverty in the region by at least two years, it added.

Theng suggested countries commit to inclusive solutions for a sustainable recovery.

At least two regional forums — Asia-Pacific Forum for Sustainable Development and the Arab Forum for Sustainable Development — flagged a looming debt crisis affecting, especially, the poor and developing countries.

A UN report released on July 12, 2023, also found that half of the world is going through one of the worst debt crisesThe Arab Forum for Sustainable Development outlined some strategies to support developing countries to sustainably manage debt and facilitate access to concessional credit.

The representative of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development seconded UN Secretary-General’s call for reforming the global financial architecture and the SDG StimulusShe added the region is working on generating innovative financing from domestic sources such as natural capital and carbon credits.

While the regional forums underscored the rising debt crisis, Leila Benali, Minister of Energy Transition and Sustainable Development, Morocco and President at the UNEA, emphasised that recovery from COVID-19 and repairing the planet “are two sides of the same coin.”

So, when SDGs progress is off-track in all regions, the world needs to fast-track actions, reminded Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, executive secretary, UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific and Coordinator of UN Regional Commissions.

Moreover, sustainable financing with transformative actions along with peace, stability and resilience are essential for progress across the goals of sustainable development, Alisjahbana added.

Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development too called for intensifying actions on the Great Green Wall and the Battery Minerals Value Chain Initiative. Launched in 2007 by the African Union, the Great Green Wall initiative aims to restore the continent’s degraded landscapes.

At the same time, science, technology and innovation will have a crucial role in international development efforts, recommended Garama Saratou Rabiou Inoussa, Chair of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development.

So far, The forum has reviewed the global progress on at least three critical sustainable development goals, including SDG 6 on clean water and sanitation, SDG 7 on affordable and clean energy and SDG 11 on sustainable cities and communities.

Suggestions evolved from HLPF will contribute to the 2023 SDG Summit, to be held from September 18-19, 2023, in New York.

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