UN & ECOSOC face a historic challenge: Fr. Daniel LeBlanc, OMI reports
July 20th, 2020
Report by Fr. Daniel LeBlanc, Missionary Oblates – US Province, Representative to the United Nations
(The High-level Political Forum, is the United Nations’ central platform for follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals).
On Tuesday July 7th, the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) began with the intervention of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) President Mona Juul of Norway. The title and subtitle of her speech brought us into line with what had been the first week of the forum. The title was: “Launching a decade of action in times of crisis: putting the focus on the SDGs while combating COVID-19“. Read more about the the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF): https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/hlpf/2020
This year’s version of the HLPF was designed to re-launch 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals following last year’s review, and to mark the 75th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations (UN). At the end of last year’s meeting and until January 2020, everything sounded like a new impulse for the Agenda and a renewal of structures, both of the UN and of the ECOSOC. We cannot say that COVID-19 has stopped the impulses of renewal, but it has slowed down the momentum. The HLPF is being carried out, almost entirely, through virtual meetings. This new modality, although it represents the unequivocal decision to move forward, does not cease to represent a lesser degree of intensity than in previous years when the dialogues were face-to-face.
The review of the progress of the SDG of Agenda 2030 has been carried out this year from the perspective of COVID-19; that is, asking how the Coronavirus is and will be influencing the achievement of each objective. The analyses have been coincidental: much of what had been achieved, with much effort, in the fight against social inequality, is going to be affected very negatively. Children and adolescents have had to stop going to school; millions of jobs, formal and informal, have been lost; there is a health crisis with hundreds of thousands of deaths by COVID-19 infections; incipient and “coming” famines, etc. I could go on listing each and every of the 17 goals of SDG2030; all have been affected. This is a global tragedy that is happening in every country and impacting every person.
In the face of this catastrophic situation, the dialogues, presentations and seminars held during this week responded in a unified manner: the path to overcome this world crisis comes from what is contained in the Agenda2030. The challenge is global, and the response must be global, as is the Agenda itself. Having said this, there is a second point that can be found in SDG Goals 10 and 17: it is necessary to act decisively against the inequalities within each country and between countries and, for this, international collaboration is necessary. Multilateralism emerges, once again, as the only viable path; but multilateralism is not based on the will of each country to build it and shape it effectively.
We finished the first week and started the second week. The second period of meetings focused on the voluntary reports of each country – Voluntary National Review (VNR) – on the implementation of the Agenda; beginning with those corresponding to Armenia, Samoa, Ecuador, Honduras and Slovenia.
We will wait, as every year, for the conclusions of the HLPF-VNR, but this year we will have to wait for something more. The whole world, by country and area, is in the midst of the shock caused by COVID-19. Until the confusion caused by this public health war is dispelled, we will not know how the world is truly reorganized as we are in the midst of the fog, climbing a great mountain. I trust that the much worked out Agenda 2030 and the UN’s own multilateralism will be the answer we find at the top.