World leaders call for action Increase in sustainability

The opening meeting of its 10-member SDG Stimulus Leaders Group took place as many developing countries are still reeling from repeated economic shocks and debt burdens far beyond their ability to pay.

The Group advocates at the highest levels to equip developing countries with the financial resources to invest in the 17 SDGs, which provide the blueprint for a fairer and more equitable future for all people and the planet by 2030.

Mr. Guterres underlined the need for “a wave of action now” on the SDGs.

Stimulate sustainable development

‘Developing countries – and billions of people – are faced with the… worst economic prospects in more than a generation“, he said. “Financing is the fuel for development and we must ensure that countries are not forced to remain empty-handed.”

Leaders attending the meeting discussed the Secretary-General’s call for an SDG boost.

The comprehensive proposal calls for short-term actions to provide developing countries with the financial resources to alleviate their immediate constraints and put countries back on an accelerated development path.

The SDG Stimulus identifies three areas for action: tackling the high cost of debt and the increasing risks of debt problems; massively scaling up affordable long-term financing, especially through multilateral development banks (MDBs), by at least $500 billion per year; and expanding emergency financing to countries experiencing liquidity problems.

A better life for everyone

Prime Ministers Justin Trudeau of Canada and Andrew Holness of Jamaica are co-chairs of the SDG Stimulus Leaders Group.

The other members include the heads of state or government of Barbados, Brazil, France, India, Italy, Kenya, South Africa and Spain.

‘The Sustainable Development Goals are crucial to growing our communities, building a better future and keeping the air cleanMr. Trudeau said. “Let’s continue to work together to make life fairer, more sustainable and more prosperous for everyone.”

Financing is critical

Mr Holness warned that the SDGs will be unachievable unless developing countries have access to finance.

“The international financial system must urgently respond through innovative mechanisms to create the fiscal space developing countries need to build a sustainable and resilient future for current and future generations,” he said.

Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados, a member of the Leadership Group who is also one of seventeen SDG Advocates appointed by the Secretary General, welcomed this opportunity to “turbocharge” the implementation of the Goals.

The only way forward

The SDG Stimulus, along with the Bridgetown Initiative, the Paris Pact for People and the Planet and other international initiatives, “are coming together to scale up the scope of financing and accelerate its disbursement,” she said.

“This is the only way the entire global community, especially the most vulnerable among us, can confront the climate crisis and overcome the obstacles to the truly sustainable development that all our peoples deserve.”

The Secretary-General first proposed elements of the SDG stimulus some eighteen months ago. Since then, it has gained popularity at many global gatherings, and was most recently welcomed by world leaders at the SDG Summit in New York last September and in the G20 Leaders’ Statement in New Delhi that same month.

Moving the plan forward

The G20 countries have rechanneled $100 billion in Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), allowing the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to help developing countries with liquidity financing.

MDBs have also embarked on a series of reforms that will allow them to collectively expand lending by about $300 to $400 billion over the next decade.

Despite these first steps, conditions are worsening in many developing countries, underscoring the need for stronger and faster action, the UN said.

In this context, the Leaders Group will proactively seek to advance the SDG Stimulus in the coming year.