At the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Summit 2023 was convened to mark the ‘half-way’ point to 2030. The SDG Summit and related events on September 17th and 18th were attended by IFSW United Nations representatives. Speakers warned that only 15% of the SDGs are on track to meet the 2030 deadline, while many other goals are in reverse, in part due to intersecting global crises of armed conflict, inflation, hunger, climate change, inequality, lingering effects of COVID-19 pandemic and climate change. At the Summit, world leaders adopted a political declaration reaffirming commitment to the need for “urgent and ambitious action is needed to rescue the SDGs and deliver progress for people and the planet”. UN Secretary General Gutierrez reminded the audience that the SDGs are not just a list of goals, but that they carry rights and embody the UNDHR and that member states and global stakeholders need to pay for them to ensure that these rights are realized through the goals. He applauded the endorsement by the political declaration of the need to reform today’s outdated, dysfunctional and unfair international financial architecture, which he stressed could “be a game-changer in accelerating SDG progress”. The secretary general outlined six areas for urgent action; 1) hunger, 2) renewable energy, 3) digital transformation, 4) decent work, 5) social protection and 6) gender equality.
IFSW Representatives also participated in the climate financing panel held by the Global People’s Assembly, organized by the Global Call to Action Against Poverty: People Rising to End Inequalities. At this event, speakers noted the urgency of climate finance and the need for locally-driven achieving it through holding corporations and countries responsible for their contributions to greenhouse gas emissions and the damage, loss and harm that they cause. Concern was expressed that countries are converting their climate financing to loss and damage financing. A theme throughout was that there is not a lack of public financing but a lack of political will to prioritize its use for climate financing.
Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, addressing the UN SDG’s Summit
In another related event addressing Achieving Universal health Care (UHC) Through Sustainable Financing (focus on non-communicable diseases), speakers recognized the need for sustainable financing for healthcare infrastructures to include health systems and health services (workforce) strengthening. IFSW Representative Evelyn Tomaszewski offered an intervention that stressed the evidence that supports the need to include mental health and psychosocial wellness in the efforts to build globally equitable UHC that address the Social Determinants of Health. Further, Dr. Ethel Leonor Noia Maciel from the Brazilian Ministry of Health, spoke directly to ‘health as a human right’, and the importance of fully addressing the social, political, and cultural context of NCDs that is rooted in equity; ideas that are supported by the holistic rights framework of the IFSW Policy on The Role of Social Workers in Advancing a New Eco-Social World.
All of these discussions align with the work frontline social workers are engaged in everyday, who are doing their part to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. We are especially appreciative of the focus throughout the events on the importance of both voice and vote of affected communities. Our emphasis on co-building, co-creating and co-realizing our vision and action plan The comments by the Secretary General, the speakers at the People’s Assembly and Dr. Macielin resonate with the vision of a holistic human rights framework outlined in the IFSW Policy, The Role of Social Workers in Advancing a New Eco-social World https://www.ifsw.org/the-role-of-social-workers-in-advancing-a-new-eco-social-world/
and the vision of the People’s Charter for an Eco-social world https://newecosocialworld.com/the-peoples-charter-for-an-eco-social-world/
The participation and interventions offered during the UN SDG Summit and related events is in support of the IFSW Social Work and the UN SDGs Policy Statement https://www.ifsw.org/social-work-and-the-united-nations-sustainable-development-goals-sdgs/ in which social workers are called upon to ‘ADVOCATE for social services and promote a strong and skilled social work profession and national social work association in order to a be visible to partners and stakeholders’.