The world is far from the track in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
According to UN sources, as of November 2022, 37 out of the world’s 69 poorest countries were either at high risk or already in debt distress, while one in 4 middle-income countries, (which host the majority of the extreme poor), were at high risk of fiscal crisis. Therefore, the number of additional people falling into extreme poverty in countries in or at high risk of entering debt distress is estimated to be 175 million by 2030, including 89 million women and girls. Clearly, financing sustainable development requires a whole new financial architecture, and the call for increasing the finance for the SDGs has grown more strident in recent times, even as we edge closer to the 2030 deadline.
The SDG Stimulus launched by the UN in February aims to offset unfavourable market conditions faced by developing countries through investments in renewable energy, universal social protection, decent job creation, healthcare, quality education, sustainable food systems, urban infrastructure and the digital transformation. The UN Secretary-General António Guterres said, “Today’s poly-crises are compounding shocks on developing countries – in large part because of an unfair global financial system that is short-term, crisis-prone, and that further exacerbates inequalities. We need to massively scale up affordable long-term financing by aligning all financing flows to the SDGs and improving the terms of lending of multilateral development banks.”
The UAE created a landmark recently, in the form of the announcement of the year 2023 as “The Year of Sustainability by the President, HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Pushing heavily for action in favour of the Agenda 2030 and the SDGs, the UAE’s leadership is calling on all sectors to assume both responsibility and active roles that will create new synergies, contributing to the efforts of the government. The country will host the important climate conference, the COP 28, which will further seek to demonstrate the commitment of the UAE to low carbon economic growth and inclusive sustainable development.
The time for action is NOW. For everyone, at every level, and in every feasible way. All the sectors and populations of the UAE have to join in the concerted drive for a sustainable future. We should be in no doubt that inaction and lack of interest is the worst possible option under the current circumstances. Climate change is not like an urban legend, nor is it based on hearsay and conjectures. It is real, it is happening, and it is in ample evidence. Whether we choose to act or to sit on the fence is no longer up for discussion. With overwhelming scientific and empirical evidence, urgent and immediate action is the need of the hour. So do not lose the opportunity to make a difference and leave a positive impact for posterity. The future generations will judge us, based on our stand today. Start now, act already.