SDG16+ at the SDG Summit

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The first SDG Summit is over. In the first of three articles, Pathfinders Director, David Steven explores what was achieved for SDG16+. You can download a detailed review of what happened at the summit.

UN Photo / Laura Jarriel

What happened?

The SDG Summit happens every four years — think of it as the Olympics of the 2030 Agenda. Its task is to bring together the world’s leaders to “mobilize further actions to accelerate implementation.

What did the first summit deliver?

  • A progress report that demonstrates that the transformation needed to deliver the SDGs by 2030 “is not yet advancing at the speed or scale required.”
  • A political declaration that recognizes we are off track to deliver most of the 169 SDG targets and which calls for a “decade of action and delivery for sustainable development.”
  • Five leaders dialogues with themes such as “The 2020–2030 Vision” and a series of plenaries that attempted to build momentum for accelerated implementation.

The Secretary-General opened the summit with the claim that “the 2030 Agenda is coming to life.” In the closing session, the Deputy Secretary-General promised that the UN would now come together to “kick‑start the decade of action.”

SDG16+ at the summit

The SDG16+ community began mobilizing for the SDG Summit — and July’s High-level Political Forum — in February 2018, when we agreed that one of our objectives was to:

“Maximize the number of actionable and achievable commitments to implement SDG16+ in line with the 2030 Agenda’s call for “practicable ambitious national responses” to implementation.”

The HLPF — which reviewed SDG16 — offered a platform for this mobilization and we made sure that SDG16+ was center stage at the summit itself:

The SG’s progress report found that violence, injustice, weak institutions, and exclusion “deprive millions of their security, rights and opportunities, and undermine the delivery of public services and broader economic development.”

Leaders used the dialogues to call for action on SDG16+. The President of Sierra Leone identified SDG4 (education) and SDG16 as the most important accelerators of his country’s future. The King of the Netherlands called for countries to work together to meet the needs of 5 billion people deprived of access to justice. The President of Peru promised to lead action to tackle corruption through a special session of the General Assembly in 2021.

SDG16+ featured strongly among the Acceleration Actions — with 52 commitments from governments, global partnerships, civil society, and business.

Mobilizing for SDG16+

Photo: Ayano Hisa Photography

Just before the summit opened, a group of world leaders used the SDG Action Zone to call for action to tackle inequality and exclusion as part of the Pathfinders’ grand challenge.

“We commit to working together to identify practical and politically viable solutions to the challenge of inequality and exclusion in our own societies and globally,” they said.

As part of the Global Goals Week, the Pathfinders hosted a reception to celebrate commitments to act from governments and other partners. Each speaker brought concrete commitments to implementation. Some examples include:

At the reception, SDG Advocate, Dr. Alaa Murabit launched the SDG16 wings as part of the SDG Butterfly Effect Campaign (an initiative of the SDG Action Campaign). Activists Miatta Mulbah and Jhody Polk shared their personal commitments to action.

The summit also saw the launch of new initiatives, such as the Peace in our Cities campaign to halve urban violence, the new coalition on justice within the Open Government Partnership, and the Global Hub for the Governance of the SDGs.

Download a detailed review of what happened in the summit.

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