The new UN reports aim to avert continued social, economic and environmental collapse

By | June 5, 2023

He was speaking at the United Nations headquarters in New York, where he presented three new policy documents to member states on these issues.

Serious challenges

They touch on some of the most serious challenges we face—challenges that can determine whether we can deliver on the vision of Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals, or continue towards a future of continuing social, financial, political and environmental collapsehe said.

The briefs are intended to inform discussions ahead of September’s SDG summit crunch, which marks the midpoint towards achieving the goals, and the related Future Summit next year.

They are the latest in a series of 11 proposal-based briefs contained in Our common agendathe 2021 report of the Secretaries-General outlining a vision for future global cooperation and multilateral action.

Fair financial system

Mr. Guterres has often spoken of the need to reform the international financial architecture in order to succeed more resilient, equitable and accessible to all.

The current system, established by the Bretton Woods Agreement nearly 80 years ago – when many of today’s developing and emerging economies were under colonial rule – is supposed to represent the world, but it doesn’t, he said.

The COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath have also revealed how the system has largely failed to fulfill its key financial safety net mandate, with many developing countries now facing deep financial crisis and debt relief to a standstill.

Africa now spends more on debt service than on health care, he noted.

The City of London, a historic financial district, in England.

The City of London, a historic financial district, in England.

Addressing historical injustices

The policy brief sets out proposals to address historical injustices and systemic biases and covers six areas, including global economic governance, debt relief and the cost of sovereign borrowing, and international public finance.

Overall, the proposals in the brief are targeted moving away from a system that benefits the wealthy and prioritizes short-term gains, toward one that is equitable, and invests in the SDGs, climate action and future generations ahead, he said.

Proposed measures include expanding the boards of directors of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund to strengthen the voice and representation of developing countries.

Supervisory body

There should also be a top representative body overseeing the whole system, to improve its consistency and align priorities with the 2030 Agendaas well as a debt settlement mechanism that would link development finance with commercial creditors.

Another proposal calls for the massive scale-up of development and climate finance, in part by changing the business model of multilateral development banks and transforming their approach to risk, to massively leverage private finance at reasonable costs for developing countries.

Go beyond GDP

Turning to the second policy paper, Guterres noted that while GDP will continue to be an important metric, it needs to be accompanied by other ways to measure progress.

There is growing recognition that GDP neglects human activities support life and contribute to well-beingduring placement disproportionate value on those who harm us and impoverish our planethe said.

Human progress depends on many factors, from levels of poverty and hunger, to social inequality and cohesion, to vulnerability to climate collapse and other shocks, he explained.

In Nampula province, Mozambique, children paint a mural highlighting the negative impact of child marriage.

In Nampula province, Mozambique, children paint a mural highlighting the negative impact of child marriage.

Reflect common values

The policy brief first proposes that countries commit themselves politically to a conceptual framework that values ​​accurately what matters to people, the planet and the future.

The goal would be the achievement of three outcomes: a focus on well-being and agency, respect for life and the planet, the reduction of inequalities and the development of related metrics.

New progress indicators

GDP is concise. Summarizes information in an intuitive way that tells a story. But well-being, equality and environmental sustainability cannot be addressed by a single snapshotGuterres said, emphasizing the need to a wider set of indicators monitor and analyze progress and recognize trade-offs and consequences.

The position paper also calls for a massive increase in support to help countries build the data capacity needed to operationalize any new metrics, which will also improve monitoring of progress towards achieving the SDGs.

Greater digital cooperation

The final brief proposes a vision for digital cooperation anchored in human rights AND protects against risk and harm. It also underlines the need for a Global Digital Compact, one of the recommendations contained in the Our common agenda relationship.

The brief comes at a time of exponential acceleration in technology, including in areas such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), deep fakes and bioengineering. At the same time, access remains unequal, as evidenced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, the mastery of digital technologies has brought enormous wealth to a select few individuals and companies. Governments and regulators have struggled to respond, leading to a lack of trust in regulatory institutions.

Information technology has

Information technology has “leapt forward” over the past 30 years.

Mitigate new technological risks

The Secretary-General also underlined the challenge of scaling up now widespread use of generative AI, such as ChatGPTwhose future impact is unclear.

He said that while AI has the potential to boost development and productivity, including towards achieving the SDGs, it also presents serious ethical challenges.

Global Digital Compact

The prospect of further technological progress now often it inspires fear rather than hopeHe continued.

There is an urgent need for governments to unite in a Global Digital Compact, to mitigate the risks of digital technologies and identify ways to harness their benefits for the good of humanity.

The Compact would provide a framework for aligning national, regional and sectoral approaches around global priorities, principles and goals.

The brief also identifies the areas for urgent global actionincluding boosting access, building digital public infrastructure, and supporting public administrations to regulate technology.

Mr. Guterres reiterated his proposal for a high-level AI advisory body to review AI governance arrangements so they can align with human rights, the rule of law and the common good.

Brief policy update

The Secretary-General has released a series of policy notes offering more detail on some of the proposals contained in Our common agenda.

Eight out of 11 have been published to date, covering topics such as acting now for future generations, engaging youth in decision-making, strengthening the international response to complex global shocks, and harnessing the benefits of space for all humanity .

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