SDG Counting
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SDG Counting

UNGA and Global Goals Week Follow Up Resources Pt. 2

The following resources are broken up into two sections: Released Reports/Resources and Articles.

Released Reports/Resources

UNDP and UN Women launched a COVID-19 Global Gender Response Tracker which monitors policy measures enacted by governments worldwide to tackle the COVID-19 crisis, and highlights responses that have integrated a gender lens. It includes national measures that are directly addressing women’s economic and social security, including unpaid care work, the labor market and violence against women. Below is a recorded guide to the tracker.

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The Gates Foundation published the 2020 Goalkeepers Report, which tracks 18 SDG indicators across SDGs 1–6 and 8. Previous reports have shown progress, but this year we have regressed on the vast majority of indicators measured.

The below IISD article briefly summarizes the report:

  • Twice as many people could die from COVID-19 if “rich countries buy up the first 2 billion doses of vaccine instead of making sure they are distributed in proportion to the global population.”
  • The length of the COVID-19 pandemic depends on whether businesses and governments cooperate or act in isolation.
  • COVID-19 has stopped progress toward the SDGs studied in this report and we have regressed on the vast majority, for the first time.

UNDP developed a Vulnerability to Climate Hazards Index — the first of its kind worldwide — which measures households’ exposure to hurricanes, storms and more. The index considers households’ income, housing characteristics and proximity to sources of danger. It also incorporates data from the country’s poverty census.

It was launched in partnership with the Government of the Dominican Republic, Regatta, Aecid and UN Environment Programme and is said to help advance SDGs 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 13, 15 and 16.


The below Devex article summarizes moments that stood out in a high-level session mostly on COVID-19. Some key takeaways are:

  • Secretary General Guterres added COVID-19 to his list of “threats that endanger our common future,” alongside geostrategic tensions, the climate crisis, growing global mistrust and the dark side of the digital world.
  • President Trump blamed China for the COVID-19 pandemic and for pollution-related issues like dumping plastic into oceans, overfishing and carbon emissions.
  • Chinese President Xi Jinping called for more global cooperation and announced a more ambitious and specific climate target to achieve net-zero emissions by 2060. He also announced contributions from China: $50M to the UN COVID Global Humanitarian Response Plan, $50M to China and the FAO’s South-South Cooperation Trust Fund and the creation of a UN Global Geospatial Knowledge and Innovation Center for the SDGs.
  • South African President Cyril Ramaphosa acknowleged the deep impact COVID has had on African countries — the redirection of resources taking away from housing, healthcare, water and sanitation and education. He called for a new social contract that makes debt, financing and trade more equitable.
  • French President Emmanuel Macron warned countries not to get involved in the rivalry between the U.S. and China.

An online conversation on climate change’s threat to national security held during UNGA had 52 male speakers before a single female spoke, which was noted during the event by Harvard University’s Wendy Sherman. This trend carried over into other high-level events, leading to a larger conversation of representation at UN75. Many think the virtual format contributed to the lack of female voices, but overall this year’s event shed light on the male-dominated leadership and sparked a conversation on diversity.

Megan Roberts, deputy director of policy at the UN Foundation, noted:

“Of course, this is incredibly frustrating — particularly this year, because we have seen countries led by women have seemed to navigate the pandemic more effectively than their male counterparts. We know women and girls are bearing the brunt of the cost and the hardship of the pandemic. It is frustrating and has quite understandably caused frustration from member states.”

The below article provides a brief summary of what each world leader said at UNGA, including government leaders from the US, China, Brazil, Turkey, Qatar, Iran, Russia, France and South Korea.

The theme for this year’s UNGA was “The future we want, the United Nations we need: Reaffirming our collective commitment to multilateralism.” This IISD articles provides a brief summary of the UNGA event as a whole. Key takeaways:

  • Leaders spoke of multilaterialism and global solidarity, among other themes. Participants adopted a Declaration that recognizes multilateralism as a necessity for a more equal, more resilient, and more sustainable world, and that implementation of the 2030 Agenda is necessary for survival.
  • The UN Secretary-General warned that the world faces a “surplus of multilateral challenges, and a deficit of multilateral solutions.”
  • The UN crowdsourced views on its future priorities and solutions from the global public, through a survey of over a million people in all 193 UN Member States. Guterres covered the results at the UNGA, including the desire among the public for increased global solidarity.
  • Five focus areas for the UN were identified: five focus areas for the UN: strengthening multilateralism, including through UN reforms; addressing inequality, including the gender gap and digital divide; financing to implement the 2030 Agenda; pursuing holistic approaches to reflect the singular objective of all SDGs; and promoting a people-centric approach

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At a climate side event, Heads of State from 70 countries spanning five continents, and the President of the European Commission for the European Union, endorsed the Leaders Pledge for Nature ahead of the UN Summit on Biodiversity. The Pledge officially launched at the Leaders Event for Nature and People on Sept. 28th as part of the Nature for Life Hub, which has been happening as part of Global Goals Week.

Key commitments outlined in the Pledge include:

  1. The development and full implementation of an ambitious and transformational post-2020 global biodiversity framework to be adopted in Kunming, China, next year;
  2. Transitioning to sustainable patterns of production and consumption and sustainable food systems that meet people’s needs while remaining within planetary boundaries. Including by switching to deforestation-free regenerative agriculture;
  3. Reducing pollution on land and in the air, including eliminating ocean plastic waste;
  4. Sustainably managing our ocean and conclude the negotiations under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea;
  5. A green and just response to the current health and economic crisis, integrating a One Health* approach and putting biodiversity, climate and the environment as a whole at the heart of recovery strategies, investments and decisions and actions across the whole of government;
  6. Investing more money in biodiversity and nature-based solutions and also committing to eliminating or repurposing harmful investments and subsidies and aligning financial flows to environmental commitments and the Sustainable Development Goals to achieve the wellbeing of people and safeguard the planet.

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Australia, the US, China and Russia refuse to join the Pledge to reverse biodiversity loss.

Pacific Island leaders spoke on their own climate efforts and called for other nations to step up climate action and move toward clean energy.

During the UNGA, Boris Johnson announced that the UK will commit £500m to a new global vaccine-sharing scheme designed to ensure treatments for Covid-19 are distributed fairly. The funds will go to the Covax vaccines procurement pool, which aims to help poorer countries access a coronavirus vaccine when one is developed. He also promised more funding for the World Health Organization.

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The below opinion piece, written by London-based economist Mushtak Parker, is a critique of the UNGA and sheds light on the ineffectiveness of the virtual gathering:

“The reality remains that the great General Assembly Hall facilitated by the vagaries of Zoom, Team and Skype, instead of rising to Guterres’s appeal for global solidarity in combating Covid-19 “in the spirit of humility and unity”, degenerated into an echo chamber resonating rants, accusations, rebuttals, self-aggrandisement and even electioneering — drowning out those few voices of reason more attuned to the challenges faced by humanity… World leaders were subjected to a video fest of pre-recorded messages or virtual speeches.”

Leaders from the Caribbean addressed the General Assembly calling for strengthened global cooperation and financing mechanisms to overcome the health crisis and recover from its massive socio-economic fallout, noting that their small economies are largely dependent on one or just a few industries.



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Keeping track of progress on trying to count and measure the success of the Sustainable Development Goals.