The SDGs

Highlights and images for 18 July 2023

New York, United States of America

On the penultimate day of HLPF 2023, representatives of the Women's Major Group gather outside UN Headquarters to call for the promotion of women's rights

On the penultimate day of HLPF 2023, representatives of the Women's Major Group gather outside UN Headquarters to call for the promotion of women's rights

All regions are off-track to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, and 2023 may be the last chance to commit to accelerated action toward realizing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. These were among messages from the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) and the Regional Forums on the seventh day of the 2023 High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF).

Want to dig deeper into the day's talks? Read the full Earth Negotiations Bulletin daily report.

The HLPF’s Ministerial Segment continued its general debate on building momentum to the September 2023 SDG Summit, while a parallel session considered the presentation and discussion of one inaugural Voluntary National Review (VNR) and 10 second VNRs.

Messages from UNEA

Leila Benali, Minister of Energy Transition and Sustainable Development, Morocco, and President, sixth session of UNEA, said the world is at a critical and unique juncture, perhaps the last chance to recommit and accelerate action in time to realize the 2030 Agenda and achieve the SDGs. She invited all to work with UNEA to achieve the SDGs, noting “nothing is more powerful than everyone rowing together in the same direction.”

A video presentation during the session on 'messages from the region' reminds delegates that we are 'far off track' to achieving the SDGs

A video presentation during the session on 'messages from the regions' reminds delegates that we are 'far off track' to achieving the SDGs

Messages from the Regions

Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, on behalf of the five UN Regional Commissions, provided an overview, reporting that SDGs progress is off-track in all regions. She urged accelerated implementation actions, and underscored that peace, stability and resilience are preconditions for progress, with sustainable financing and transformative actions essential for realizing the 2030 Agenda.

The five regional forums on sustainable development relayed messages from their 2023 meetings. Africa noted most countries are not on track to achieving the SDGs by 2030 and reported recommendations such as intensified transformative initiatives and more resources for data. Arab states outlined strategies to support developing countries to sustainably manage debt and facilitate access to concessional credit and stressed the need to address wasteful spending and corruption. Asia-Pacific highlighted progress in the energy, food system, and urban development sectors, as well as efforts to strengthen social protection, and to tackle rising indebtedness.

Europe highlighted regional commitments to: implement pledges made at the UN Water Conference; leverage digital solutions for energy efficiency and the renewable energy transition; strengthen enabling environments; and accelerate affordable housing. Latin America and the Caribbean stressed addressing growing drought and water stress, pollution and climate change; maintaining momentum on renewable energy; ensuring people-centered approaches to infrastructural development, industrialization and science and technology; and improving access to housing.

General Debate: Building Momentum Towards the SDG Summit

The general debate, which continued Tuesday afternoon, heard statements from 39 speakers, including seven ministers and 17 deputy ministers and other high-level government officials, representing ministries of foreign affairs, development, national planning, environment, science and technology and international cooperation. In addition to describing national and local progress on the SDGs and how they are incorporated into national development plans, many noted the setbacks they have faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, conflict, and debt.

They all agreed that the SDG Summit must be a meaningful turning point to restore trust and galvanize action.

Delegates listen to the VNR presentations

Delegates listen to the VNR presentations

Voluntary National Reviews

Saint Kitts and Nevis presented its first VNR, while Bahrain, Belgium, Croatia, Tanzania, Brunei, Iceland, Timor-Leste, France, Lithuania, and Singapore presented their second VNR. All addressed efforts to accelerate recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic while strengthening resilience to new crises, while most highlighted progress, or lack thereof, regarding the SDGs under review by HLPF 2023. Presenters also responded to questions from observers on specific strategies adopted as well as insights from the VNR preparation process, and broader experiences and expected challenges regarding specific issues such as water or energy in their SDG implementation processes.

To receive free coverage of global environmental events delivered to your inbox, subscribe to the ENB Update newsletter.

All ENB photos are free to use with attribution. For HLPF 2023, please use: Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth.