Sustainable development goals that inform global policy and investors' sustainability approaches "are slipping from our grasp," United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said Thursday.
The U.N.'s sustainable development goals established in 2015 as a blueprint for prosperity provide a framework for investors to understand and measure real-world impact of their investments. The 17 goals have 169 targets, many of which have a 2030 deadline agreed to by U.N. member states.
At the halfway mark, those goals are slipping and "the international community is not finding common ground," Ms. Mohammed said during a session of joint meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Washington. The groups of developed countries known as the G20 "in particular remains at an impasse," she said, while a succession of global crises over the past few years "has battered developing countries" and widened inequalities.
Add to that a climate emergency that "continues to batter vulnerable economies and populations, making our asks of them to lift themselves out of destitution not only unrealistic — but delusional," she said. Rapidly tightening global financial conditions and rising borrowing costs make climate action and long-term sustainable development even tougher as 52 developing countries suffer from severe debt problems, and "these widespread challenges are indicative of a flawed global financial architecture — one that was designed for a world that no longer exists, and is too short-sighted, crisis-prone and deeply unequal," Ms. Mohammed said.
In February, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres launched an SDG Stimulus plan that would provide at least $500 billion a year to help needy countries with affordable long-term financing. Those actions can be taken immediately, Ms. Mohammed said, but failing to do so could "lead to the decoupling of our global financial system — and an unraveling of multilateralism at large."
Some possible reforms include improving multilateral debt relief by involving private creditors, integrating disaster clauses into lending in the case of a climate-related shock, and "massively scaling up affordable and long-term financing for investments in sustainable development," she said.
An international conference hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron on June 22 to work on a new global financial pact, and a U.N. high-level dialogue on financing for development in New York on Sept. 20, "are all opportunities to build a coalition of like-minded leaders to drive an ambitious financing package for the SDGs and climate action," Ms. Mohammed said.