Far-Reaching Document Provides ‘Beacon of Hope’ amid Monumental Challenges, Economic and Social Council President Says, Noting Global Solidarity on Vaccine Access
The high-level political forum on sustainable development adopted a far‑reaching Ministerial Declaration reflecting Member States’ commitments to gather together in a global push to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic and build back better through inclusive, green recovery plans.
The unanimously adopted Ministerial Declaration is a “beacon of hope” at a time when the world faces monumental challenges, the Economic and Social Council President said, as it concluded the high-level segment of its 2021 session.
The political forum, under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council, is tasked with reviewing the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The session, held from 6 to 16 July, is focused on the theme “Sustainable and resilient recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic that promotes the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development: building an inclusive and effective path for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda in the context of the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development”.
In adopting the 50‑paragraph Ministerial Declaration (document E/2021/L.26-E/HLPF/2021/L.2), the forum committed to a range of ways States and the international community can help to advance pandemic recovery, while, at the same time, boost progress towards realizing the Sustainable Development Goals. By its terms, the forum recognized that the crisis caused by the pandemic has laid bare and exacerbated the world’s vulnerabilities and inequalities within and among countries, accentuated systemic weaknesses, challenges and risks and threatens to halt or damage progress made in realizing the Sustainable Development Goals.
By the Declaration’s terms, the forum expressed deep concern that the global goal of eradicating poverty by 2030 is slipping from reach and recognized that the multidimensional impact of the pandemic has exacerbated it, increasing the number of poor by up to 124 million, causing the extreme poverty rate to rise for the first time in a generation. It also called on States to commit to a number of actions, including to rapidly scale up and expand vaccine production globally and to promote public engagement and innovative partnerships through a whole-of-Government approach, regional and local mobilization and actions, and meaningful participation and involvement of communities, people, civil society, volunteers, academia and the private sector.
Noting with concern that none of the biodiversity-related targets with a 2020 timeline have been met, the forum, through the Declaration, urged parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity to accelerate action in pursuing the three objectives of the treaty and called for increased ambition and urgency of action to protect wildlife and other living species and reversing the trends in environmental degradation. It pledged to continue to strengthen the science‑policy interface through evidence-based policymaking, support for research and development, particularly harnessing science, technology and innovation, promoting voluntary technology transfer on mutually agreed terms, and leveraging technologies to promote inclusive digital economy and connectivity and build resilience across sectors.
Forum members, by terms of the Declaration, committed to enhancing and promoting digital capacity-building, infrastructure, connectivity and technical assistance initiatives, as well as innovation and technology. They also committed to pursuing multilateral solutions guided by global solidarity in responding to the pandemic and realizing the Sustainable Development Goals, including by enhancing global equitable access to vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics by all countries and peoples.
In closing remarks, Munir Akram (Pakistan), President of the Economic and Social Council, highlighted concerns and messages of hope. While the pandemic continues to have an impact on the world, especially developing countries, he said there was a loud and clear call during the political forum for global solidarity. In addition, broad agreement was reached that ensuring equitable, universal and affordable access to the vaccine is a moral imperative, the only way to overcome the pandemic and a condition for a resilient and sustainable world recovery.
Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, emphasized that there cannot be a recovery from the pandemic without international solidarity and cooperation, including through climate finance and financing for development. “Let us not forget also that, for many developing countries, the pandemic is still raging, people are still dying at unacceptably high levels and economies are in dire straits,” she said, stressing the need to extend support to these countries. “With political leadership, solidarity and unity of purpose, we can end the pandemic, secure major improvements in people’s lives between now and 2030, and keep the promise of the 2030 Agenda.”
The Economic and Social Council will meet again at 10 a.m. on Friday, 16 July, to conclude its high-level segment.