Opening Remarks by Mr James George at the 2023 International Forum on South-South Cooperation and Trade in Services
September 4, 2023
Ladies and gentlemen,
On behalf of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in China, I am honored to be given the opportunity to be the moderator for the keynote speeches session of this event.
As all of us are aware, in 2015, the global community came together at the United Nations in New York and agreed on the most ambitious global development plan ever conceived – for people and planet – the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
Commitments, plans, targets and financing were envisioned and pledged for a world that we would leave for our children and future generations.
Now, halfway to the deadline for the 2030 Agenda, we are leaving more than half the world behind.
The SDG Progress Report released by the Secretary General of the United Nations shows that only 12 percent of the SDGs are on track.
Worst of all, we have stalled or gone into reverse on more than 30 percent of the SDGs.
What happened, you might ask?
To begin with, the COVID-19 pandemic and the triple crisis of climate, biodiversity and pollution are having a devastating impact, amplified by the continued conflicts across the globe.
This has now resulted in the number of people living in extreme poverty today to be higher than four years ago. Inequalities are at a record high and growing.
Hunger has increased and back at 2005 levels.
Gender equality is estimated to be 300 years away.
Moreover, the climate crisis is escalating. Projected temperature increases are set to double the targets outlined in the Paris Agreement, surpassing the critical threshold of 1.5 degrees by the end of the century.
As we gather here today, the world is grappling with record-high temperatures.
In 2023, we have just lived through the Earth’s hottest day, week and month ever recorded.
We have an existential threat.
"One thing is clear - in order to create a sustainable future for all, we must accelerate our actions and foster collective efforts on a global scale."James George, Deputy Resident Representative, UNDP China
We need a new economic model and approaches capable of delivering enhanced prosperity and growing social equity – all within the contours of a finite and fragile planet.
Next month, the SDG Summit will be called by the Secretary General to comprehensively review the state of the 17 SDGs; respond to the impact of multiple and interlocking crises facing the world and review transformative and accelerated actions towards the target year of 2030.
One thing is clear - in order to create a sustainable future for all, we must accelerate our actions and foster collective efforts on a global scale.
No single country can accomplish this alone, and international cooperation has become more crucial and critical than ever and has to form the bedrock of our global interactions.
Overcoming these challenges requires collective action and cooperation.
This is why this Forum’s topic is critical.
South-South Cooperation as a catalyst for sustainable development and prosperity is so crucial towards achieving sustainable development.
Resilience of individuals, communities, institutions and nations are at the core of this and ensure we are able to get back on track credibly.
To help us collectively think through these global challenges, we have invited four distinguished keynote speakers from embassies, think tanks, academia, and the private sector to share their insights on how we can leverage south-south cooperation modalities to advance sustainable development.
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