Blog by: Yousef Al-Benyan
2020 has come to be a momentous year! The greatest and most complex challenge in a century has unravelled the vulnerabilities and fissures in the world, undoing a lot of the progress made since World War II. The ongoing health and socio-economic crisis with complex geo-political ramifications, has got the world wanting more of cooperation.
As the world commemorates the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, its principles of unity, solidarity, multilateralism and international cooperation seem more critical than ever for a prosperous and sustainable world. The UN system has a central role in galvanising international and multi-stakeholder collaboration for realising the shared universal goals for sustainable development, also known as the SDGs. And, given the current scenario, the UN becomes an even more critical organization in catalysing and coordinating a global response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year, we are at the cusp of the Decade of Action. The report of the UN Secretary-General on progress towards the SDGs states that actions taken to date have been too slow, uneven and either stalled or reversed in some areas. As the G20 Leaders act on their commitment to do whatever it takes to overcome the pandemic, catching up with the necessary progress on the SDGs needs an integrated approach. Innovation in not just technological solutions but also in policy solutions is required, that leverage interlinkages and minimize trade-offs across the 17 Goals and 169 targets.
That has been the guiding principle for the B20 recommendations to the G20 this year. The SDGs were consciously laid out as a cross-cutting theme across the focus areas of the B20. Effectively, every policy recommendation is qualitatively measured to contribute to the advancement of the relevant SDGs.
With that, the single-point message of all B20 recommendations is that the G20 members should lead the way in SDG-centric policy formulation, and should partner with the UN system and the business community in its timely and effective implementation. As such the B20 compiled a detailed report entitled Advancing the Global Goals on Sustainable Development: A B20 Call to Action with an aim to help the UN as well as the G20 in accelerating the progress on SDGs in the Decade of Action.
This report is structured along the lines of the six taskforces and one action council of the B20. Recommendations from these groups are mapped directly to relevant goals and targets – from the promotion of gender equality to developing resilient digital infrastructure to combatting climate change – to provide a qualitative potential of the advancement in each case. The policy recommendations are further detailed in the separate policy papers, which were presented to the G20 in early October and will be further discussed during the B20 virtual Summit on 26-27 October 2020.
Strengthening multilateralism, and coordination and collaboration at all levels of governance is a necessary condition for accelerated progress on the SDGs. The B20 reiterates its commitment to international cooperation and multilateralism, and the need for a stronger United Nations. Ensuring alignment with its goals will help the world “build back better” from the worst health and economic crisis in a century, to a vibrant, socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable economy for all.
Yousef Al-Benyan is the Chair of B20 Saudi Arabia. He is also the Vice Chairman and CEO of SABIC.