The High-level Thematic Debate on Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) took place on Thursday, 21 April 2016, at UN Headquarters in New York. Following opening keynote speeches, plenary convened throughout the day for national statements on the theme “Action at All Levels: National Implementation.” In the morning, two panels took place on the theme “Financing poverty eradication and sustainable development,” addressing successful frameworks and strategies for financing SDGs and the paradigm shift towards low carbon societies, and enhancing international cooperation in tax and financial matters.
A high-level lunch discussed partnerships for SDG implementation. In the afternoon, two panels took place under the theme “Technology and data for SDGs,” on enhancing technology development and cooperation for SDGs and harnessing the data revolution for SDGs. In the evening, a high-level reception addressed climate action in the context of sustainable development.
Moderator Ghida Fakhry, international broadcast journalist, opened the session following a performance by drummers from Mamaroneck High School.
During opening remarks, President of the UN General Assembly Mogens Lykketoft said the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change provide the international community with a framework to solve the root causes of migrant and humanitarian crises.
During keynote speeches, UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson called it an “important signal” that this event is taking place on the eve of the signing of the Paris Agreement on climate change, noting that neither the development nor climate agenda can be achieved without the other. He said achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will require breaking down barriers “across borders, across sectors, and across functions.”
A short film presented the history of the sustainable development and climate agendas, and the need to account for the next seven generations. “We are standing in front of an opportunity to change the course of the world,” said the narrator, concluding, “to leave no one behind, we must all lead.”
Poverty Eradication and Sustainable Development: The Way Forward—Successful Frameworks and Strategies for Financing the SDGs and the Paradigm Shift towards Low Carbon Societies: Moderator Maggie Lake, Anchor and Correspondent, CNN International, introduced the panel.
Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England and Chair, G20 Financial Stability Board, stressed that the SDGs are an economic imperative and could pull economies out of secular stagnation. He emphasized that implementation will require an investment step change, including on climate change, to shift investment from high- to low-carbon intensity. He also said that while only governments can solve the “tragedy of the horizon” and generate a shift towards low-carbon societies, it is possible to generate a virtuous cycle in which countries implement their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) and companies pull forward to meet climate challenges.
Izabella Teixeira, Minister of Environment, Brazil, called for a new way of facing international cooperation, which overcomes fragmentation, and for a new type of multilateralism, which mobilizes all stakeholders and is based on results.
Torben Möger Pedersen, CEO, Pension Denmark, noted that infrastructure is increasingly seen as an important asset class. He stressed the need for risk-adjusted returns on infrastructure projects.
Namita Vikas, Group President and Country Head, Responsible Banking and Chief Sustainability Officer, YES Bank, underscored the need for integrated reporting for standardizing all environment and social risks, and policies that create a level regulatory playing field.
Barbara Adams, Senior Policy Advisor, Global Policy Forum, noted the need to talk about risk to ensure that the public sector, women and the vulnerable are not getting the short end of the stick on risk. She observed that governments talk about the SDGs while pursing bilateral investment treaties that are direct obstacles to them, and called for standards and frameworks.
Carney stressed that pragmatic objectives are important and risk can be reduced through the development of green bonds.
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