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Guterres: We must connect the dots to deliver SDGs

20 September 2019


The UN Secretary-General António Guterres at a press conference during the G7 Summit in Biarritz, in France, last month

The UN Secretary-General António Guterres at a press conference during the G7 Summit in Biarritz, in France, last month

THE United Nations has warned that efforts to deliver the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are in danger of going backwards unless a new relationship between humans and nature can be forged to halt climate change and biodiversity loss.

The warning comes from a new report from the UN, The Future is Now: Science for achieving sustainable development, before a key summit on the SDGs taking place in New York from 24 to 25 September. Agreed in 2015 to replace the Millennium Development Goals, the SDGs consist of 17 goals and 169 targets that act as a framework for delivering sustainable development around the world.

The scientists behind the latest progress report warn, however, that the current development model is not sustainable, and “the progress made in the last two decades is in danger of being reversed through worsening social inequalities and potentially irreversible declines in the natural environment.”

The authors conclude that a more optimistic future is still attainable, but only by drastically changing development policies.

In a foreword to the report, the UN secretary-general, António Guterres, writes: “Our world as we know it and the future we want are at risk. We must dramatically step up the pace of implementation as we enter a decisive decade for people and the planet.

“We must connect the dots across all that we do — as individuals, civic groups, corporations, municipalities, and member states of the United Nations — and truly embrace the principles of inclusion and sustainability. Science is our great ally in the efforts to achieve the goals.”

These sentiments were echoed at a summit in South Africa last week at which several church institutions announced that they were to disinvest from fossil fuels. They included the United Reformed Church, and St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral, in Edinburgh — said to be the first cathedral to disinvest from fossil fuels.

The Provost, the Very Revd John Conway, said: “We need to shape an economy that does not rely on fossil fuels, whose extraction and burning are imperilling the lives and livelihoods of so many, both now and for all generations to come.

“The climate emergency will only be tackled when as individuals, institutions, businesses, and governments, we act together, in solidarity with those who suffer now, and with hope for future generations.”

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