UN’s development forum outcome ‘beacon of hope’ for virus-hit nations: Akram

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16th Jul, 2021. 07:00 pm

UNITED NATIONS: The UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HPLF) wrapped up its 2021 session on Thursday, with Ambassador Munir Akram calling its outcome as a “beacon of hope” for the developing countries trying to recover from the devastating economic and social impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

Akram, the Pakistani ambassador who is also the president of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), said the deliberations over eight days, in which many world leaders, including Prime Minister Imran Khan, took part, virtually and in-person, were “intense and action-oriented”.

He expressed the hope that the member states would be guided by that beacon of hope as “we navigate heavy seas” towards the post of the anti-poverty Sustainable Development Goals.

The HLPF, which is held under ECOSOC’s auspices, is the core UN platform for follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 goals.

Ambassador Akram, who presided over the intensive deliberations, said that the UN forum examined the voluntary national reviews of 42 countries that illustrated both the common and differentiated challenges they confront in realising the Sustainable Development Goals and responding to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The status of implementation of key Sustainable Development Goals was also reviewed, he said, adding that “unless states, individually and jointly, take bold emergency actions, we will, by and large, be unable to achieve the most of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.”

Thursday’s meeting also unanimously adopted a ministerial declaration that prescribes the required actions and commits governments and other stakeholders to implement them.

Ambassador Akram said that the main messages from the forum’s deliberations and the declaration said that the world must quickly contain and defeat the Covid-19 virus. No one will be safe until everyone is safe.

The world economy will not fully recover, nor can Sustainable Development Goals can be achieved in time unless it is being done. The Covid-19 vaccine is a global public good and must be made available to all.

The finance is the key to Covid recovery, the Sustainable Development Goal achievement and in arresting climate change and environmental degradation. Finance mobilisation must be pursued as a global goal to address all aspects of the triple crisis: debt restructuring, concessional assistance, creation and generous reallocation of unutilised Special Drawing Rights (SDR) quotas, scaled up public and private investment in sustainable infrastructure and other employment generating projects and programmes.

The declaration also said poverty and hunger, which has increased sharply, must be addressed frontally, including through social protection programmes and safety nets, and massive concessional assistance to those in need, the poorest people and the poorest and vulnerable countries.

The UN system must continue to be the principal advocate of the poor and act boldly to secure implementation of all the commitments made in the ministerial declaration.

It must press the powerful to make the paradigm shift in the methods and modalities of mutual cooperation, which embraces the objectives and equity, inclusion and universality.

“Without this, we will be consigned to a world that is increasingly divided between the rich and the poor, to rising poverty, human suffering, social chaos and proliferating conflicts,” Ambassador Akram added.

The UN deputy secretary-general Amina Mohammed also addressed the closing session and attributed the Covid pandemic to “a reversal of Sustainable Development Goals progress in some areas, and delayed action on many of the major transitions required to meet our 2030 goals”.

She said the pandemic has had a “deeply negative impact” on health and wellbeing; employment, businesses, incomes, education; and human rights, with “a particularly damaging effect on women and girls”.

Many participants observed that some of the measures put in place during the pandemic could provide a foundation for the Sustainable Development Goal progress, giving the examples of digital learning, which could help transform education more broadly, along with building on critical fiscal support many countries had provided to their economy, jobs and people.

“[The] governments should now consider whether some of these measures can be integrated into comprehensive social protection systems,” the UN official said.

Recovery efforts can be designed both to restart economies and accelerate the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, she added.

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