By: President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana and Prime Minister Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway
If ever there was a time to transform positively and irreversibly our world and enhance robustly prospects for a richer, more peaceful, more stable and more secure world, that time is now. When we, as global leaders, unanimously adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September 2015 as the global blueprint to end poverty, to protect the planet, and to ensure prosperity for all, our overarching commitment was for a richer, more stable, more secure and a more peaceful world.
Whether one is battling flooding, fighting extremism or crossing dangerous seas in the hope of a better life, these are objectives, dreams and hopes that every global citizen must cherish and want. The SDGs are truly a reflection of our shared values and common commitment to humanity. They are about hope and the future we want.
Transformation is about ambition and the SDGs are the boldest and loudest articulation of a collective transformational agenda and development ambition the world has ever seen. In today’s heavily inter-dependent and interconnected world, a successful SDGs campaign and effective implementation of the goals must be seen as a global public good.
The human, environmental and climate gains that will accrue from successful implementation of the global goals are important for global peace and global prosperity, and crucial for global stability. They are equally vital for addressing emergent and increasingly pervasive global challenges. Take migration and terrorism as examples. These are very different and complex challenges, and they have their roots in the toxic cocktail of deprivation and under-development. Both challenges can be addressed by working together to achieve the SDGs.
The ambition and commitment of the SDGs must be matched by right policy choices and diligently following through on commitments that UN Member States and their leaders made. Many challenges must be overcome. But the world has the capacities, the knowledge, the experience, the innovation and the resources to achieve the goals and truly Leave No One Behind.
Achieving the SDGs will take bold and ambitious actions at country levels. It will require integrating the SDGs into national development frameworks, smart policies, and innovative economic and social policies. It will entail smart partnerships around innovative financing. Success will require fighting corruption, addressing impunity, and enhancing public service delivery. And it will take leaders at all levels to reject circumstances as they are and take responsibility to change them.
SDG success will depend on the quality of partnerships we build around the commitments that have been made by global leaders. In a context of increasing nationalism, emerging political intolerance and xenophobia in some countries, we must not lose sight of what working together as a global community has produced for humanity. We must amplify the huge positive dividends from global political and economic cooperation, and not allow negative narratives to drive policy formulation. And we must build robust partnerships that don’t only address the symptoms but also deal with structural vulnerabilities that fuel global ills.
The SDGs agenda is not just for governments, but it is especially for all citizens of the world. You can and must contribute as a private citizen, as a business leader, as a civil society entity, and as a community leader.
We observe with pleasure that a constantly growing number of large global enterprises integrate the Sustainable Development Goals in their business strategies. It is simply good for business.
A “Businessworthy pledge” launched at the Oslo Business for Peace Summit in 2016 has been signed by Business leaders representing annual turnover of more than 665 billion US dollars and more than 2,2 million employees. These business leaders have all pledged to run their companies in a way that supports the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
On our part as co-chairs of UN Secretary General Guterres’ SDGs Advocates, we will help build coalitions for sustainable development. The youth must have a voice in the transformative SDGs agenda. The energies and talents of young people will be essential for success. We know that investments made in women and girls are great multipliers of development. There can be no sustainable development without gender equality.
Innovative financing largely from the private sector will be necessary to achieve the SDGs. But the bulk of financing must be generated from enhanced domestic resource mobilisation, and this should be complemented by priority allocations to pro-SDGs sectors.
The time for decisive and collective actions to accelerate implementation of the SDGs is now. We cannot waiver in our commitment to do so. The SDGs agenda has come at a time of increased uncertainty in the world. But this is also a time of great hope for the world. If we work smartly together and stay the course, we can raise millions out of poverty and significantly expand basic social services for many more by the 2030 end date of the SDGs.
It is everyone’s privilege and duty to transform our world. We will play our part as state leaders and co-chairs of the UN Secretary General’s SDGs Advocates to help build a better tomorrow. We believe in this moment to transform our world and we call upon world leaders, business, civil society, media, academia and every citizen of the world to join hands with us in transforming our world.