Every year the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development meets to advance the UN System’s agenda on sustainable development. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) led the discussion on urgent environmental issues through five side-events. This article is part of the coverage of the forum’s 2020 edition.
While the coronavirus pandemic presents enormous health and economic challenges, there are also opportunities to jumpstart economies and rebuild societies through green recovery plans that are aligned with the 2030 Agenda. This was the main takeaway of a dialogue that took place at Recovering better: Global opportunities for jumpstarting the real economy #GO4SDGs, a side event at the 2020 High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF 2020).
Leaders at the event agreed that the only way countries will recover from COVID-19 in a way that ensures prosperity for all and builds resilience is if the international community remains committed to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Paris climate change agreement.
“The 2030 Agenda and Paris Agreement are our roadmaps for building back better,” said Joyce Msuya, Deputy Executive Director of UNEP. “They set the social floors and upper boundaries of the planet’s life support functions. But we must keep our focus on real economy actors, including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).”
Lewis Akenji, Executive Director of SEED, warned, however, that local actors are at risk of being overlooked in COVID-19 recovery. Governments, he said, must recognize the role SMEs have played in meeting social and environmental goals, providing jobs, and creating economic and gender equity. SMEs, he added, must be centred in policy and financial mechanisms and provided the resources they need to thrive.
Stephan Contius, Germany’s Commissioner for the 2030 Agenda, at the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, emphasized his country’s faith that the SDGs are a “collective compass for the way out of this COVID-19 crisis” and that the priority now was to make sure the capital is available.
Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), added that for working people, the SDGs and Paris Agreement could be the foundation of a new social contract, one that departed from austerity and moved toward equity and resilience.
The event also served as an introduction to the “Menu of Services” of the Global Opportunities for SDGs (GO4SDGs) initiative – a set of real-world tools and services that governments, SMEs, youth networks, and schools and universities can use to sustainably jumpstart their economies and job creation.
GO4SDGs was launched in September 2019 to accelerate the shift to more inclusive green economies and sustainable production and consumption patterns, by facilitating regional dialogue and exchange among practitioners on best practices for replicating and upscaling.
Recovering Better was organized by UNEP and SEED with support from the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear Safety of Germany and the Green Growth Knowledge Partnership (GGKP).