Remarks at the Thematic Forum on Consultation and Global Governance, organized by the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference
June 19, 2023
On behalf of the United Nations Development Programme, I am honored to be here at the Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).
Since its creation, some 77 years ago, the United Nations was guided by the conviction that global challenges require global action. Throughout history, countries have demonstrated the power of multilateralism in successfully eradicating polio, repairing the ozone layer, or saving millions of lives each year through humanitarian action.
In 2015, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted as a roadmap for a better future for both people and planet. Yet, at the halfway point, global progress towards achieving this vision has been extremely disappointing.
Only 12% of SDG targets are on track, and we have stalled or even regressed on 30% of them.
This distressing trend - predating COVID 19 - has been made worse by a combination of global crises including the devastating socio-economic impact of the pandemic, the war in Ukraine and its knock-on effect on food and energy prices leading to an explosion in the cost of living in many countries.
As a result, up to 95 million more people live in poverty as of 2022, hunger is at its highest level since 2005, and human development has seen a global regression for two years in a row.
In addition, the global climate crisis is driving our natural world to the point of no return. Temperature rises are projected to exceed the 1.5 degrees Paris target by double by the end of the century.
The ability of countries to respond to these simultaneous crises and invest in the SDGs is severely constrained by tightening fiscal space and rising debt levels. Indeed, 52 developing economies are now experiencing severe levels of debt distress.
In the face of this reality, it is hard to remain hopeful. Yet, through collective global action, it is not too late to reverse course.
The upcoming SDG Summit in Sept, which UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, describes as a “moment of unity”, is an opportunity to bring the world together and renew momentum to accelerate SDG progress.
Earlier this year, the SG had proposed the SDG Stimulus to mobilise an additional $ 500bln in financing per year. This plan provides new measures to scale up affordable and long-term financing, reschedule and restructure debt, and expand contingency financing.
Urgent efforts are also needed to change the global financial architecture from one that is short-term oriented and crisis-prone, to one that is resilient and better able to absorb shocks. This must include transitioning to a new development paradigm - defining progress not by GDP growth alone, but rather guided by new metrics including decarbonisation, climate action, environmental restoration -- and the creation of opportunities for all.
Urgent efforts are also needed to change the global financial architecture from one that is short-term oriented and crisis-prone, to one that is resilient and better able to absorb shocks. This must include transitioning to a new development paradigm - defining progress not by GDP growth alone, but rather guided by new metrics including decarbonisation, climate action, environmental restoration - and the creation of opportunities for all.Beate Trankmann, Resident Representative, UNDP China
We also need to strengthen the overall global governance architecture, to ensure it can effectively respond to the shared challenges we face.
To this end, the SG’s High Level Advisory Board on Effective Multilateralism, co-chaired by the former President of Liberia and former Prime Minister of Sweden, has put forward a series of concrete suggestions for effective multilateral arrangements across a range of key global issues, putting people at the center, with the aim to secure a more sustainable, just and peaceful world. The panel’s report will inform deliberations ahead of the 2024 Summit of the Future, where Member States are expected to consider approaches for more effective global cooperation.
UNDP stands ready to work with our programme country partners to advance these central reform agendas for joint solutions to put our world back on a sustainable trajectory.
As the world’s second largest economy, China has the opportunity to make important contributions to climate action and the SDGs globally, for example, through its ambitious 2030/2060 dual carbon goals. China’s announcement to support the green energy transition in developing countries and phasing out investments into coal power plants abroad was an important signal in this direction.
China’s Global Development Initiative, when fully aligned with the SDGs, and informed by international best practices and norms, can help respond to development priorities determined by the global south, to advance the 2030 Agenda.
At UNDP, we are committed to achieve the SDGs globally, including through our Climate Promise to over 120 countries to help implement their climate pledges as ‘sovereign investment plans’ in key areas like clean, affordable energy.
In closing, I want to express my sincere appreciation to Vice Chairman Wang for the invitation to speak today, and for the enlightening exhibition on the history of the CPPCC.
Moving forward, to further accelerate global progress, we need solidarity – learning from, and working with each other – to respond to systemic, global risks and leave no country, community, or individual behind.
The SDGs have provided humanity with a clear plan for a sustainable future, for ourselves and generations to come.
But we must have the courage and determination to make the right choices now. If we do that, and do it together, our “best world” is indeed still ahead of us.