Agenda 2030, and the solidarity needed to accelerate progress

July 25, 2023

We are at the half-point to the deadline set for achieving the 2030 Agenda. The gloomy news is that ‘the world is off track on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals’, however what gives optimism is the ‘recognition that a fundamental shift is needed – in commitment, solidarity, financing, and action – to put the word on a better path’. Embracing cooperation and solidarity seem essential in helping people and communities recover from conflicts, the cost-of-living crisis, as well as building resilience to future crisis and climate risks. The Global Sustainable Development Report ’23 argues that ‘global solidarity and international cooperation are instrumental to human security and building an inclusive equitable and peaceful world; as well as that the ‘strategies to embrace transformations should be based on the principles of solidarity, equality and well-being’.  Echoing the words of UNDP’s Administrator Steiner ‘In a world defined by uncertainty, we need a renewed sense of global solidarity to tackle our interconnected, common challenges’. 

In the UNDP country office in North Macedonia, the principle of solidarity and embedding it in our development work, has links to the history of the city in which our offices are located. Namely, back in 1963 a devastating earthquake left the city of Skopje (the capital of the country) in rubbles with 1070 casualties and over 3000 injured women, man, and children. However, the people and the country, at the time, received immense support and solidarity from the UN system, countries and people that helped rebuilt and reconstruct the city as well as lifted the spirits of the people. In gratitude towards the international solidarity displayed, the city adopted the motto ‘Skopje, the city of international solidarity’. 

This year we are amid the memorialization of the 60th year since the Skopje earthquake, and an interdisciplinary country office team believed that this presented an opportune moment for us, to help open for a broader conversation in our public discourse on the role solidarity can play in the development policies of today, how we can use the principle of solidarity in making our cities more resilient, our people more secure, and accelerate progress towards the Agenda 2030.  In the segment bellow we will take you through some of the key activities and processes we have conducted, as well as our ideas and thoughts on what could come next. 


To facilitate and encourage a societal conversation on the role solidarity can play in our national development policymaking space, UNPD worked together with one of the leading think tanks in the country, invited scholars, practitioners, students, and enthusiasts to contribute articles and essays on the role solidarity plays/could play in: our economic and democratic policies; gender equality; and overcoming crisis and building more resilient cities. The final product, the digital compendium on #solidarity, hosted thirteen essays written and co-written by a total of twenty authors, including a foreword written by the President of North Macedonia. The country office also published a policy paper that conducted a review on disability – inclusive policies and processes in the disaster risk management system, which identified gaps in the system, and provided recommendations for further action. Both documents, contribute to the interdisciplinary theme of development policies underpinned and informed by the principle of solidarity, and offer real life policy proposals [and a platform for debate] on how the principle of solidarity can help us advance towards desired development aspirations and goals that we have set up for ourselves.


Moreover, UNDP also organized and hosted an international conference in Skopje that brought together representatives from twenty countries, including members from national institutions, city officials, academia, policy makers, civil society, and the private sector for a focused discussion on how we can enhance the resilience of our cities to tackle challenges like: earthquake preparedness, the impact of climate change in urban settings and making our cities and communities smarter, mode future-ready, greener and humane.


Our team also tried to provoke an internal UNDP discussion on the topic. We wrote two blogposts, one on the nexus of human security – solidarity – and the example of women solidarity in the aftermath of crisis: and the other on the needed solidarity for tackle the development challenges of the day.


At the beginning of 2023 UNDP  commenced a process of creating an informal partnership with different societal actors in North Macedonia, a loose network of enthusiastic organizations and institutions that we believed would be interested to share ideas, organize activities and processes jointly to both memorialize the 60th anniversary of the Skopje earthquake, but also to continue the conversation about the role solidarity plays in the development processes today, and how we can tap into the principle to accelerate the development of our communities, and achieve the Agenda 2030. 

The informal group consists of more than thirty representatives from national and city institutions, museums, embassies and international organizations, civil society organizations and members from the academic community have regular monthly meetings to share ideas, inform members of their activities, as well as develop new processes together, either linked to the memorialization of the Skopje earthquake, or adjacent to the broader theme of solidarity in development work. Today we are happy to report that organizations that are a part of our loose network have organized activities ranging from: search and rescue demos; lectures and exhibitions; scientific conferences; publications; training programs on disaster readiness and response; rapid assessments and studies all adjacent and reinforcing this common theme of solidarity in development work. 

What we are now hoping to do next with our informal group of partners is look beyond the memorialization activities for the 60th anniversary of the Skopje earthquake [#Skopje60 processes] and strengthen existing as well as design and implement new processes that are informed by the principle of solidarity but have the goal to accelerate development processes and the achievement of the Agenda 2030. We are confident that there is a renewed role that solidarity can play in the development of our communities, and we would like to tap and explore that potential to help us reach our aspirations reflected in the Sustainable Development Goals.