Highlights and images for 19 September 2022

UN Headquarters, New York

UN General Assembly

Amanda Gorman, Poet, Activist and Supporter of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)

The 2022 SDG Moment – the first held fully in person – was choreographed around the idea of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as the world’s “to-do list” for the next eight years. It featured performing artists alongside high-level officials for a fast-paced event that lasted 90 minutes, leading into the UN’s Transforming Education Summit.

Want to dive deeper? Read the full Earth Negotiations Bulletin report.

The annual SDG Moment takes place during the UN General Assembly (UNGA)’s high-level week. It was conceived to highlight inspiring action driving progress on the 2030 Agenda, but this year’s proceedings maintained a broad focus on urgency and cooperation. Speakers highlighted a cascade of crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic, conflict and climate change, that have set back efforts to achieve the SDGs by 2030. A live performance by the poet-activist Amanda Gorman embodied a running theme of the SDG Moment: the centrality of equality and decision-making power of women and girls.

Priyanka Chopra Jonas, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, introduced UN Secretary-General António Guterres. He said the current moment of “great peril” should not tempt leaders to leave development priorities for “a sunny day.” He called on leaders to rescue the SDGs.

António Guterres, UN Secretary-General

Leading a segment on a “stock-take” of the SDGs, Csaba Kőrösi, Hungary, President of the 77th Session of the UNGA, called for recovering the speed of progress towards the SDGs that had been lost to the pandemic and inaction. He described COVID-19 as a postcard from the future with a message about a bleak scenario that must be avoided.

Csaba Kőrösi, Hungary, President of the 77th Session of the UNGA

Nomzamo Mbatha, Goodwill Ambassador, UN Refugee Agency, called for lifting the “lid of invisibility” off the gaps and opportunities to address the plight of the most marginalized human beings.

Amanda Gorman performed a poem addressed to all of humankind, proclaiming that the welfare of the public and the planet share the name of equality, and daring leaders to care before it is too late, to live aware and awake; to lead with love in hours of hate; to do good so that the world might be great.

Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados and Co-Chair of the UN Secretary-General’s SDG Advocates, said the world’s to-do list reminds us there is no right to success. She explained the importance of each of the 17 SDGs, and implored children to help governments remember that they have choices and can make decisions even in the absence of needed finance.

Mia Mottley, Prime Minister, Barbados, and Co-Chair, UN Secretary-General’s SDG Advocates

Sherwin Bryce-Pease, South African Broadcasting Corporation, hosted a segment on Inequalities Solutions.

Melinda French-Gates, Co-Chair, Gates Foundation, and Founder of Pivotal Ventures, called for a conversation about women’s power, especially their decision-making power, and for an end to talk of “empowerment.” She underlined multiple returns when women and girls enjoy decision-making autonomy, financial autonomy, and bodily autonomy.   

Melinda French Gates, Co-Chair, Gates Foundation, and Founder, Pivotal Ventures

In a panel discussion on Climate Solutions, Bryce-Pease interviewed recently appointed UNFCCC Executive Secretary Simon Stiell and other speakers. Stiell said only eight climate COPs are left in the Decade of Action, and getting climate action right is our best chance at achieving the SDGs.

Chido Cleopatra Mpemba, Envoy on Youth, African Union, said predictable weather patterns are needed to ensure adequate food production and build resilience for Africa’s agriculture sector.

Ingrid Reumert, Ørsted, urged all companies to set targets through the Science Based Targets Initiative and begin taking action towards their targets immediately.

In a closing “call to action,” Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada and Co-Chair of the SDG Advocates, noted the fast-approaching 2030 deadline and announced that Canada has invested USD827 million in agricultural systems to facilitate climate action and resilience.

Priyanka Chopra Jonas closed the event underscoring the importance of women’s power, and the liberating power of education as a cornerstone of equality, social justice, social change and democracy.

To receive free coverage of global environmental events delivered to your inbox, subscribe to the ENB Update newsletter.