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Under the radar

30 September, 2022

There is a lot going on right now, from the death of Queen Elizabeth to the turmoil in the UK economy. At the same time, issues such as the catastrophic flooding in Pakistan, disruptions to gas supplies to Europe and the ongoing spectre of massive food shortages in low- and middle-income countries persist. These are issues with human and political implications but also sustainability implications as well.  

At last week’s UN General Assembly (the 77th), talk was of the need to deliver against some of these priorities – ending hunger, addressing the climate crisis, ensuring everyone has access to quality education.  

Antonio Guterres, the Secretary General of the UN, warned world leaders that the world has a long ‘to-do list’ and has asked for more finance and investment from public and private sectors to meet fast-growing needs. The  ‘World’s to-do list’ was set out in a short movie that was shown for the first time at the conference, which sets out the renewed urgency around achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.  

The problem is that the SDGs themselves aren’t really a plan for action, but rather a set of outcomes that will only be achieved if there is concerted and system-wide efforts to achieve them. Time, as the movie reminds us, is running out.  

And while we need moments like the UN General Assembly to assess whether we are heading in the right direction, we also really need – as the movie does indeed stress – more attention and focus on getting things done.  

So the conferences, webinars and reports are all important, but it’s time to roll up our sleeves and start to work together across sectors and borders to deliver real change, at pace. For those of you who have made commitments to the SDGs, are you on track? For those who haven’t, what are you waiting for?  

By Bertie Bateman

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