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Progress has been made, but 'not at a sufficient speed to realize the SDGs': UN ECOSOC President

One week after zeroing-in on how to build sustainable, resilient societies, key players from around the world debated on Monday at United Nations Headquarters in New York, how to keep up the momentum to turn the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development into a reality.

 Speaking at the opening of the major ministerial meeting of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) as well as the high-level segment of the Economic and Social Council, ECOSOC President, Marie Chatardová, cited progress that, at first glimpse, looked positive.

She pointed to extreme poverty, saying that even at one-third of the 1990 value, it was still imprisoning 10.9 per cent of world’s population. Moreover, while 71 per cent have access to electricity - a 10 per cent jump - a billion people still remain in the dark.

“There is progress, but generally not at a sufficient speed to realize the SDGs by 2030,” Ms. Chatardová said.

Despite that backdrop, Ms. Chatardová argued that the 2030 Agenda was being translated into concrete policies and measures: “It seems new ways of making policies are taking root, with many examples of more inclusive and evidence-based approaches,” she said.

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UN officials call for strong, people-focused health systems

 Secretary-General António Guterres reiterated that the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is a fundamental human right at the opening of the seventy-first session of the World Health Assembly in Geneva.

The World Health Assembly is the highest decision-making body of the World Health Organization, WHO. It determines the agency’s polices, supervises financial policies, and reviews and approves the proposed programme budget.

“We need strong resilient systems that place people at the centre,” said Mr. Guterres.

“Universal health coverage provides the foundation to help us overcome the inequities that continue to leave so many behind.”

Ensuring that everyone, everywhere has access to quality health care and services, is also vital for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), stressed the UN chief.

In particular, Sustainable Development Goal 3 (SDG 3), which has specific targets to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being at all stages in life. In addition, health improvements feature prominently in many of the other ambitious Goals.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO’s Director-General, also addressed the Assembly, emphasizing the importance of universal health coverage, as illustrated by the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The WHO chief outlined a number of initiatives at the UN health agency to advance universal coverage and urged greater political commitment: “It’s clear that the twin messages of health security and universal health coverage resonate loudly with world leaders,” he said.

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Message from the Secretary-General on the opening of

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Mental health ‘neglected issue’ but key to achieving Global Goals, say UN chiefs

“One in four people experience a mental health episode in their lifetime, but the issue remains largely neglected,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres in his opening remarks to a roundtable discussion on mental health, co-organized by his office,  the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Wellcome Trust, a charitable foundation that supports scientists and researchers.

“The UN is committed to working with partners to promote full mental health and wellbeing for all,” Mr. Guterres added.

The roundtable discussion, held Wednesday evening, included Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director Henrietta Fore, and some 20 others from academia, government and civil society.

A main message coming out of the discussion was growing support for the notion that there can be “no health without mental health” and there is a need to look beyond the health sector, for creative solutions to tackle the root causes of deteriorating mental health.

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Feature Video: WHO talks about Health and the SDGs

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Historic participation of Caribbean countries at the UN General Assembly

Caribbean countries made one of their most memorable participations in history during the latest General Debate of the UN General Assembly last week.

Emotional pleas to mitigate climate change and to support the costly measures necessary to adapt to its effects, as well as to “build back better” after the devastating effects of extreme weather were expressed by the region’s delegates. On the top of everyone’s mind were the catastrophic effects of hurricanes Irma and Maria as the latter was still making its destructive way across the Caribbean.

Even on the wake of the catastrophic hurricanes, preparedness, humanitarian assistance and reconstruction were not the only issues raised by the region.  Delegates also made compelling statements about the importance of attaining the Sustainable Development Goals, and highlighted many of the vulnerabilities shared by Small Island Developing States. These included social and economic challenges, that range from debt to single sector economic dependency, human trafficking, migration and others.

Click on the links below to watch videos on demand of the Caribbean participation, or to read summaries and transcripts of the statements at the General Assembly.

 

H.E. Mr. Gaston Alphonso Browne,
Prime Minister
Antigua and Barbuda


Video of speech http://webtv.un.org/
Transcript https://gadebate.un.org/sites/default/files/gastatements/72/ag_en.pdf
News story https://gadebate.un.org/en/72/antigua-and-barbuda

 

H.E. Mr. Darren Allen Henfield,
Minister for Foreign Affairs
The Bahamas

Video of speech http://webtv.un.org/
Transcript https://gadebate.un.org/sites/default/files/gastatements/72/bs_en.pdf
News story https://gadebate.un.org/en/72/bahamas

 

H.E. Ms. Maxine Pamela Ometa McClean,
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade
Barbados


Video of speech http://webtv.un.org/
Transcript   https://gadebate.un.org/sites/default/files/gastatements/72/bb_en.pdf
News story https://gadebate.un.org/en/72/barbados

 

H.E. Mr. Wilfred Elrington, 
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade
Belize

Video of speech http://webtv.un.org/
Transcript https://gadebate.un.org/sites/default/files/gastatements/72/bz_en.pdf
News story https://gadebate.un.org/en/72/belize

 


H.E. Mr. Roosevelt Skerrit,
Prime Minister
Dominica

Video of speech http://webtv.un.org/
Transcript  https://gadebate.un.org/sites/default/files/gastatements/72/dm_en.pdf
News story https://gadebate.un.org/en/72/dominica

 


H.E. Mr. Elvin Nimrod,
Minister for Foreign Affairs
Grenada

Video of speech  http://webtv.un.org/
Transcript https://gadebate.un.org/sites/default/files/gastatements/72/gd_en.pdf
News story https://gadebate.un.org/en/72/grenada

 


H.E. Mr.  David Arthur Granger,
President
Guyana

Video of speech http://webtv.un.org/
Transcript  https://gadebate.un.org/sites/default/files/gastatements/72/gy_en.pdf
News story https://gadebate.un.org/en/72/guyana

 


H.E. Mrs. Kamina Johnson Smith,
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade
Jamaica

Video of speech http://webtv.un.org/
Transcript https://gadebate.un.org/sites/default/files/gastatements/72/jm_en.pdf
News story https://gadebate.un.org/en/72/jamaica

 

H.E. Mr. Mark Anthony Brantley,
Minister for Foreign Affairs
Saint Kitts and Nevis

Video of speech http://webtv.un.org/
Transcript  https://gadebate.un.org/sites/default/files/gastatements/72/kn_en.pdf
News story https://gadebate.un.org/en/72/saint-kitts-and-nevis

 


H.E. Mr. Allen Michael Chastanet,
Prime Minister
Saint Lucia

Video of speech http://webtv.un.org/
Transcript https://gadebate.un.org/sites/default/files/gastatements/72/lc_en.pdf
News story https://gadebate.un.org/en/72/saint-lucia

 


H.E. Mr. Louis Straker,
Deputy Prime Minister
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Video of speech http://webtv.un.org/
Transcript https://gadebate.un.org/sites/default/files/gastatements/72/vc_en.pdf
News story https://gadebate.un.org/en/72/saint-vincent-and-grenadines

 

H.E. Mrs. Yldiz Pollack-Beighle,
Minister for Foreign Affairs
Suriname

Video of speech http://webtv.un.org/
Transcript https://gadebate.un.org/sites/default/files/gastatements/72/sr_en.pdf
News story https://gadebate.un.org/en/72/suriname

 

H.E. Mr. Dennis Moses,
Minister for Foreign Affairs
Trinidad and Tobago

Video of speech http://webtv.un.org/
Transcript  https://gadebate.un.org/sites/default/files/gastatements/72/tt_en.pdf
News story https://gadebate.un.org/en/72/trinidad-and-tobago

 

 

 

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Agriculture officials gather to discuss sustainable agriculture for the region

Seventy agriculture officials from across Latin America and the Caribbean will gather for two days from 14 – 15 September 2017, to discuss how the region can strengthen sustainable agriculture and rural development through innovation, at the 11th Regional Planners Forum on Agriculture. This meeting will be hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in collaboration with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat at the Hilton Hotel, Barbados under the theme:  Innovation Systems for Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development.


A key expected outcome of the meeting is an action plan framework that countries can use to develop and implement leading edge policies and institutional mechanisms at the national level to advance their agricultural sectors and reduce poverty in rural areas.

The forum will focus on:

  • Financial Instruments,Investments and Institutional Strengthening;
  • Climate Smart Agriculture; and
  • Value Chains and Access to Inclusive Markets

Recommendations from the meeting will be presented at the Council on Trade and Economic Development (COTED) Ministerial meeting, to be held next month in Guyana.

Innovations in agri-food systems have allowed the agricultural sector in developing and developed countries to make leaps in the quantity and quality of food production.  The process is designed for farmers, marketers and agro-processors along the value chain to improve their production practices, with the involvement of the private and public sectors, civil society and developmental partners.

Higher levels of adoption of innovations in agriculture lead to improvements in productivity, competitiveness, trade, income generated by the sector, sustainability and reduction of the region’s food import bill. The forum is therefore a key activity to map the growth and expansion of the agricultural sector of CARICOM and the realization of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).

The forum dialogue will also focus on how policies and mechanisms can support the reduction of rural poverty as well as levels of food and nutritional insecurity in countries around the region. This complex problem requires a systematic and innovative approach especially in the context of a strong growth in food demand and climate change, with increasing pressure on natural resources. 

This year’s Forum on Innovation for Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development is a follow-up to the 2016 FAO Second Regional Forum on "Innovation Systems for Sustainable Rural Development", where stakeholders discussed, reflected on and analyzed innovation based on its impact in rural areas, with an emphasis on family farming and the democratization of innovation systems.

This year’s event was developed through a collaboration between the FAO and the CARICOM Secretariat with support of the members of the Agriculture Food and Nutrition Cluster (AFNC). It supports the FAO’s commitment to the implementation of the 2017 Action Plan of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) Working Group on Family Farming and Territorial Rural Development and contributes to CELAC’s Food and Nutritional Security Plan for the eradication of hunger by 2025. 

To view and download the event agenda and concept note, please visit:  http://www.fao.org/americas/eventos/ver/es/c/1032286/.


 

Agriculture and food security is connected to SDGs :

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Tourism key to foster trade for least developed countries – UN-backed report

A United Nations-backed report released today stressed the need for greater recognition of tourism as a key service export in order to attract technical assistance to the sector in least developed countries (LDCs).

Although tourism represents seven per cent of all international trade and 30 per cent of the world's services trade, it is often difficult to direct trade-related technical assistance towards the sector because tourism and trade tend to fall under different line ministries, the report points out.

Produced by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF), the report, titled Tourism for Sustainable Development in Least Developed Countries, was launched on the occasion of the Aid for Trade Review held in Geneva.

In LDCs, tourism accounts for seven per cent of total exports of goods and services – a figure that stands at 10 per cent for non-oil LDC exporters.

The report says that tourism can make a strong contribution to the economies of LDCs, but successful interventions in tourism require strong collaboration across government agencies as well as across different actors at the regional or local level.

The report also aims to increase the commitment and investment in coordination and raise tourism's prominence in trade-related technical assistance as to ensure the sector delivers on its powerful capacity to create jobs and incomes where they are most needed and for those who are most vulnerable – including youth and women.

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International Year for Sustainable Tourism - link

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Worlds first Oceans Festival

11 April 2017 – With global leaders heading to the United Nations for a major conference in June on the protection and sustainable use of the planet’s oceans, the UN today announced that the inaugural World Ocean Festival will kick off the week-long event, with activists and enthusiasts taking to the streets – and waterways – of New York City to raise their voices to reverse the declining health of our oceans.

At a joint press briefing at UN Headquarters today, Penny Abeywardena, the Commissioner of the (New York City) Mayor’s Office for International Affairs, joined Peter Thompson, President of the UN General Assembly, to announce the first ever Festival which will be held on Sunday, 4 June, the day before the opening of The Ocean Conference, which will run from 5 to 9 June.

The Festival, organized by the Global Brian Foundation, will galvanize people across the world to bring public attention to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), specifically Goal 14, on conservation and sustainable use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development, “right here in New York City, a premier coastal city,” said Ms. Abeywardena. “Through these gatherings, people will come together to catalyze specific steps we can take as a community to preserve our oceans and engage our citizens and in particular, our young people,” she said, adding that, with 520 miles (about 835 kilometres) of coastline, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration recognizes the need for cities to lead on protecting the planet from degradation through sustainable consumption and effective management of the world’s natural resources and mitigating the worst impacts of climate change.

For his part, Assembly President Thomson said New York City is a model not only in the United States but around the world of what cities can do in integrating the SDGs with their urban development planning, drawing attention to Mayor de Blasio’s ‘One NYC’ initiative. An opportunity to address major woes humanity has put upon the ocean As for the Conference, he said “the ocean is in deep trouble,” facing threats from marine pollution; fishery subsidies at a time when fish stocks are collapsing; and degraded coastal ecosystems planet-wide. “The Ocean Conference is [a timely opportunity] to address these major woes humanity has put upon the ocean,” he continued, adding that also will provide an opportunity to think about the impacts of climate change. “With ocean acidification, we’re already seeing the effects of this; its serious business in Oregon and Washington state and its spreading around the world and is also serious business for the tropics, where because of rising temperatures life is leaving our waters because it is too hot,” explained Mr. Thomson, noting that 40 per cent of the cause of rising sea levels is due to the fact that oceans are heating up.

 

And yet “all human problems have human solutions and that’s what the Ocean Conference is about, working to find what the solutions are” he emphasized, noting that UN Member States are currently making good progress on the ‘call to action’ that would be agreed by the Conference. Further, in addition to a plenary, the Conference would also feature seven partnership dialogues focused on SDG 14.
Mr. Thomson went on to highlight the registry of voluntary commitments, which the UN was promoting all stakeholders and “everybody who gives a hoot about the ocean” register between now and the Conference “so that you stand and be counted in our call to action to reverse the cycle of decline in which the ocean has been caught.” The roll of the media is important in all this, to get the word out about the state of the planet’s oceans “but also that we’re doing something about it.” 

Natalia Vega-Berry, founder of the Global Brain Foundation and Executive Producer of the World Ocean Festival said the event will aim to show world leaders gathering for the UN conference the urgency for taking action. “Our ocean is a connective tissue for the world’s entire population.It makes planet Earth and us all one, as we are surrounded by shores. At the same time, our ocean is at great risk of pollution, overfishing, climate change and more.” While coastal cities and island nations feel the most pressing burden of such threats, she said that the Festival will aim to bring together all people who care deeply about the oceans’ future to “raise their voices in support of the ocean and call to world leaders to take action to save it.”

She said that while the Festival will be held in New York, other cities could also be inspired to organize their own events. New York’s festival will feature a first-of-its kind grand “ocean march”, which will be a parade of sailing vessels around lower Manhattan and along 10 nautical miles of Manhattan and Brooklyn waterfront from the Hudson to the East River. The second main event will be the Ocean Village, which will be set up at Gentry State Park in Long Island City as a “hub for all things ocean,” and will celebrate art, innovation and exhibits on ocean and climate action.

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Water Facts and Figures

  • POSTER household WWD2017 EngThis year, we focus on wastewater and ways to reduce and reuse as over 80% of all the wastewater from our homes, cities, industry and agriculture flows back to nature polluting the environment and losing valuable nutrients and other recoverable materials.

    We need to improve the collection and treatment of wastewater and safely reuse it. At the same time, we need to reduce the quantity and pollution load of wastewater we produce, to help protect the environment and our water resources.

    Sustainable Development Goal 6 – ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030 - includes a target to halve the proportion of untreated wastewater and increase water recycling and safe reuse.

    UN Water

    UN-Water is the United Nations inter-agency coordination mechanism for all freshwater related issues, including sanitation.
    Building on a long history of coordination in the UN System, UN-Water was formalized in 2003 by the United Nations High Level Committee on Programmes. It provides the platform to address the cross-cutting nature of water and maximize system-wide coordinated action and coherence. UN-Water promotes coherence in, and coordination of, UN system actions aimed at the implementation of the agenda defined by the Millennium Declaration and the World Summit on Sustainable Development as it relates to its scope of work. Through UN-Water the United Nations act as "One UN".
    The scope of UN-Water’s work encompasses all aspects of freshwater, including surface and groundwater resources and the interface between fresh and sea water.

     

     

  • POSTER cities WWD2017 Eng
    • Globally, over 80% of the wastewater generated by society flows back into the ecosystem without being treated or reused
    • 1.8 billion people use a source of drinking water contaminated with faeces, putting them at risk of contracting cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio. Unsafe water, poor sanitation and hygiene cause around 842,000 deaths each year.
    • 663 million people still lack improved drinking water sources.
    • By 2050, close to 70% of the world’s population will live in cities, compared to 50% today5. Currently, most cities in developing countries do not have adequate infrastructure and resources to address wastewater management in an efficient and sustainable way.
    •  The opportunities from exploiting wastewater as a resource are enormous. Safely managed wastewater is an affordable and sustainable source of water, energy, nutrients and other recoverable materials. 
    •  The costs of wastewater management are greatly outweighed by the benefits to human health, economic development and environmental sustainability – providing new business opportunities and creating more ‘green’ jobs.
    • Every day, 2 million tons of human wastes are disposed of in watercourses, and in developing countries 70 % of industrial wastes are dumped untreated into waters where they pollute the usable water supply
    • 70% of the global water withdrawals go to agriculture. The world population is expected to rise from 7 billion people today to 9 billion in 2050, leading to a 60% increase of the food needed globally and a 19% increase of agricultural water consumption.
  • Water and sanitation are at the very core of sustainable development, critical to the survival of people and the planet. Goal 6 not only addresses the issues relating to drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, but also the quality and sustainability of water resources worldwide.


     Targets

    6

    By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all

    By 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations 

    By 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally 

    By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity 


    By 2030, implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate

    By 2020, protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes 

    By 2030, expand international cooperation and capacity-building support to developing countries in water- and sanitation-related activities and programmes, including water harvesting, desalination, water efficiency, wastewater treatment, recycling and reuse technologies 



  • Oceans, along with coastal and marine resources, play an essential role in human well-being and social and economic development worldwide. They are particularly crucial for people living in coastal communities, who represented 37 per cent of the global population in 2010. Oceans provide livelihoods and tourism benefits, as well as subsistence and income. They also help regulate the global ecosystem by absorbing heat and carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and protecting coastal areas from flooding and erosion. In fact, coastal and marine resources contribute an estimated $28 trillion to the global economy each year through ecosystem services. However, those resources are extremely vulnerable to environmental degradation, overfishing, climate change and pollution.


     Targets

    Goal 14

    By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient 

    pollution 

    By 2020, sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience, and take action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans 

    By 2020, effectively regulate harvesting and end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices and implement science-based management plans, in order to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible, at least to levels that can produce maximum sustainable yield as determined by their biological characteristics 

    By 2020, conserve at least 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, consistent with national and international law and based on the best available scientific information 

    By 2020, prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies which contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, eliminate subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and refrain from introducing new such subsidies, recognizing that appropriate and effective special and differential treatment for developing and least developed countries should be an integral part of the World Trade Organization fisheries subsidies negotiation 

    By 2030, increase the economic benefits to Small Island developing States and least developed countries from the sustainable use of marine resources, including through sustainable management of fisheries, aquaculture and tourism 


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Human Development Report - Extreme poverty and exclusion amidst progress in Latin America and Caribbean

 

Development gaps for women, indigenous peoples, remote dwellers and other groups set to widen unless deep-rooted development barriers, including violence, discrimination and unequal political participation, are tackled.

Stockholm, 21 March 2017 – A quarter-century of impressive human development gains in Latin America and the Caribbean masks slow and uneven progress for certain disadvantaged groups. A stronger focus on dismantling key barriers to development is urgently needed to ensure sustainable human development for all. These are some key findings of the Human Development Report 2016, entitled ‘Human Development for Everyone’, released today by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The report finds that although average human development improved significantly across all regions from 1990 to 2015, one in three people worldwide continue to live in low levels of human development as measured by the Human Development Index (HDI). “The world has come a long way in rolling back extreme poverty, in improving access to education, health and sanitation, and in expanding possibilities for women and girls,” said UNDP Administrator Helen Clark, speaking at the launch of the report in Stockholm today. “But those gains are a prelude to the next, possibly tougher challenge, to ensure the benefits of global progress reach everyone.”

According to the report, the Latin America and Caribbean region enjoys high levels of human development among developing regions, second only to Europe and Central Asia. However, when adjusted for inequality, the region’s HDI drops by almost a quarter due to the unequal distribution of human development gains, particularly income.

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Human Development Report 2016 ‘Human Development for Everyone’ to Launch 21 March 2017

The Human Development Report 2016 ‘Human Development for Everyone’ will be launched on 21 March in Stockholm with the Prime Minister of Sweden, Stefan Löfven; United Nations Development Programme Administrator, Helen Clark; and the Director of the Human Development Report Office and lead author of the report, Selim Jahan. In past decades, there have been significant gains in human development levels in almost every country; but millions of people have not benefitted from this progress. Who has been left behind and why? The Human Development Report 2016 looks into these two questions. It identifies substantial barriers to development and recognizes that in every society certain groups are far more likely to suffer disadvantages than others. The report also looks to what societies should do to advance human development for everyone. It sets forward policy recommendations at the national level and also looks at ways in which the global development landscape – particularly multilateral organizations – could be made more effective in the fight to leave no one behind and achieve the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The report also looks to what societies should do to advance human development for everyone. It sets forward policy recommendations at the national level and also looks at ways in which the global development landscape – particularly multilateral organizations – could be made more effective in the fight to leave no one behind and achieve the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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