The G20 summit under India's Presidency put the Sustainable Development Goals “front and centre” and underscored the dedication to accelerate their implementation, New Delhi's envoy here has said, emphasising that India's journey towards SDGs serves as an “inspiring example of determination and ingenuity.”
Speaking at the ‘India Roundtable: Delivering Development: Journeys, Directions and Lighthouses', organised on the sidelines of the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly here on Friday, India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj said that India's dedication to accelerate SDG implementation was made clear.
“India's journey towards the SDGs serves as an inspiring example of determination and ingenuity. As we navigate the challenging path ahead, let us draw strength from the commitment made at the G20 Leaders' Summit in September 2023. It is there that our collective resolve was reaffirmed, and our dedication to accelerating SDG implementation was made clear,” Kamboj said.
The event was hosted by the Observer Research Foundation (ORF) in collaboration with the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations, United Nations India and the Reliance Foundation.
In her address, Kamboj noted with concern that the SDG Progress Report shows that just 12 per cent of the Sustainable Development Goal targets are on track, progress on 50 per cent is weak and insufficient and "worst of all, the world has stalled or gone into reverse on more than 30 per cent of the SDGs.”
Kamboj said the number of people living in extreme poverty today is higher than it was four years ago and on current trends, only 30 per cent of all countries will achieve SDG 1 of no poverty by 2030.
However, India's performance on SDG 1 of no poverty is a testament to its resolve. “India has remained committed to the cause. We are on track to reduce multidimensional poverty by at least half, much ahead of 2030,” she said.
Kamboj said the G20 summit put SDGs front and centre underscoring the urgency in this ‘Decade of Action'.
“This landmark event marked a turning point, where global leaders recognised the urgency of our mission and committed to accelerating implementation under the G20 2023 Action Plan”, which will achieve transformative impact on achieving the SDGs- including digital transformation; gender equality and empowerment of women; and implementing sustainable, inclusive and just transition globally.
ORF President Samir Saran said the Global South in many ways today reflects a “new urge and a new determination by a new set of actors to carve the rules for the world.”
Later at a ministerial event ‘South Rising: Partnerships, Institutions and Ideas' organised by ORF and attended by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Saran said that at the New Delhi G20 summit in 2023, “a new body is being born that will serve the seven billion people who had been invisibilised by the one billion who benefited from globalisation.”
He added that there is also a responsibility on the Global South today to no longer be acceptors of rules written by others “but to actually be scripting them by themselves in partnership with actors who have been through this journey before, but also with those who are going to be increasingly influential in the days ahead.”
UN Resident Coordinator in India Shombi Sharp said as world leaders gathered for the high-level UNGA session, the week has been "filled with a lot of frankly depressing news everywhere we look.
"It's crisis, it's war, it's poverty. It's the inability of the world to come together and to put money behind the words and all of this against the backdrop of the triple planetary crisis - biodiversity loss, pollution, climate change.”
He added that amid this, there are two very important reasons to be “optimistic”, noting that “we know what to do” since the SDGs remain “our best blueprint.”
“Secondly, we have a new engine in the room. And that is India, increasingly showing robust leadership on how to achieve the SDGs” across so many areas including poverty reduction, digital leapfrogging and women-led development.
“We estimate that with the greatest youth generation in history, 1/6th of humanity, that literally 1/3rd to upwards of one-half of the SDG targets will need to be met in India.”
Sharp cited remarks by UN Secretary-General Antonio during his recent visit to India for the G20 Summit that India is the country that can make the SDGs a reality. Increasingly, India is having an important impact on the rest of the SDG targets outside the country.
“The shining example that we're still basking in the glow from is the Indian G20 presidency and the consensus New Delhi declaration, bringing much-needed important momentum across a range of critical issues - from climate change, climate action to gender equality, to reforming multilateral institutions and international financial architecture that were designed in the aftermath of the Second World War to be fit for the new reality, the new world order and to look to see how we can achieve 2030" agenda, Sharp said.
Reliance Foundation CEO Jagannatha Kumar said India is going through remarkable economic and technological growth and a lot of growth has also been led by the technological innovations that India has been pioneering over the last several years.
“Its development journey and innovative bottom-up approaches to achieving the SDGs offer exemplary models that can be replicated in other countries,” Kumar said.
He added that the G20 declaration adopted by consensus at the Leaders' Summit in Delhi aptly recommends and recommits to achieving the SDGs as they saw setbacks on account of various global crisis in recent years.
On the occasion, a special report ‘Ideas, Innovation, Implementation: India's Journey towards the SDGs' was launched that highlights 17 Indian lighthouse case studies undertaken by non-profit organisations and communities.
President of Global Development at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Christopher Elias said that India has completed a very successful G20 Summit "at a time when I think only India could have pulled off such success in a year of complicated geopolitics and in a fraught situation in many parts of the world.”
The G20 Summit delivered a declaration that places development, equality and prosperity for everyone at the very center of the discussion.
“India is undergoing a significant multifaceted socio-economic transformation. Achievements in the areas of financial inclusion, affordable housing, access to sanitation, hygiene, piped drinking water, and electricity are very impressive. The scale of transformation is actually truly inspiring and provides valuable blueprints for the rest of the world,” he said.