On the sidelines of the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly, US leaders gathered in New York City at the Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice for the fourth year. American leadership in the drive Sustainable Development Goals Hosted by the Center for Sustainable Development at the Brookings Institution and the United Nations Foundation.
The gathering showcased ways in which different segments of American society are embracing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to address local and global challenges, from new commitments to community partnerships. The event also reflected the diversity of experiences and expertise needed to accelerate progress, showcase the reverse SDG trends that are moving in the wrong direction, and unlock new resources and political leadership as the world reaches the midpoint of achieving the 2030 SDGs.
“As we move forward in our work in support of the 2030 Agenda, let us redouble our efforts, take a holistic approach, and remember that each of these 17 Goals is linked to an individual human life.” – Ambassador Lisa Carty, US Representative to the United Nations Economic and Social Council
Several key ideas emerged from the conversation about how to enable greater ambition on the SDGs and close gaps in US progress:
- Promote commitments and action from all sectors. U.S. efforts to achieve the SDGs would benefit from an increased focus on leveraging the comparative advantage that the private sector and academia bring. Harnessing the creativity and resources that drive business success can also drive efforts to drive progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals. For example, Google.org, the philanthropic arm of Google, announced a major new commitment that includes an open call for AI innovation projects focused on accelerating progress on the Sustainable Development Goals. Sanjeev Khagram, dean of the Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University (ASU), emphasized the importance of universities and academic institutions in helping design and support the SDG strategy in their region, with ASU assisting the City of Phoenix in conducting a local progress review on the SDGs. .
The real question is how can we increase private sector participation? What is my differential strength that I can offer, and that our company can, to achieve the SDGs together as a global community? – Jacqueline Fuller, Head of Google.org
- Ensure that marginalized communities are not excluded from progress. Ridgway White, President and CEO of the Mott Foundation, reminded the public that incidents like the Flint water crisis serve as a magnifying glass to issues plaguing underprivileged communities. A recent analysis by the Brookings Institution and the United Nations Foundation showed that even before the pandemic, the United States was not fully on track to achieve one of the Sustainable Development Goals, with particularly dire consequences for the future well-being of young people, women, and racial and ethnic minorities in the United States. groups. Dr. Helen Bond, Assistant Professor of Curriculum and Instruction in the Howard University College of Education, noted that outcomes on the SDGs in white communities are about three times better than those for racial and ethnic minorities, particularly Black and Indigenous communities. Long-standing inequities challenge efforts to “leave no one behind” in the United States, emphasized Salah Goss, senior vice president of social impact for Mastercard’s Center for Inclusive Growth, who highlighted the importance of reaching out to bridge racial wealth and opportunity gaps: “ Our theory of change is really being close to networks, whether it’s financial networks, social networks, information or digital networks, it’s really an indicator of your success.”
“Failure in the United States on the Sustainable Development Goals would be a betrayal of America’s promise of opportunity for all and a blow to our efforts to advance human rights and dignity around the world.” — Rep. Barbara Lee, D-CA
- Embrace inclusivity to solve today’s challenges. U.S. leaders at all levels need to listen and engage with diverse voices, such as youth and communities, making inclusivity at the heart of collective efforts. For Salah Ghose’s point of view, “the people closest to the problem can usually unlock part of that solution.” This sentiment was echoed by Himaga Nagyerdi, United Nations Youth Monitor USA, who amplified the voices of youth from across the country and stressed that young people have the most to lose if the SDGs are not addressed. Najerdi called on U.S. leaders to harness youthful voices and innovations in efforts to build solutions to global challenges. Ambassador Lisa Carty also emphasized the centrality of inclusion to global progress: “Without a fully inclusive approach that includes women and girls, people with disabilities, the LGBT community, marginalized racial and ethnic groups, Indigenous communities, and the voices of young people, our efforts cannot succeed. to truly achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.”
“Use your power to actively connect with us to hear our stories, thoughts, and ideas… We can never achieve the world we dream of—a world of peace and justice for all—without our youth.” – Himaga Nagyerdi, United Nations Youth Observer USA
This event showed bright spots on American leadership and work toward the SDGs across different segments of American society. It also highlights job opportunities across the United States, from college campuses and boardrooms to Congress and city councils. As Ridgway White suggested in his closing remarks, the US government also has an opportunity to strengthen existing leadership and build on this momentum by producing a “Voluntary National Review” to report on national progress on the SDGs.
By working together across sectors, the United States can help accelerate efforts to get progress on the Sustainable Development Goals back on track as the world approaches the halfway point in 2023. As Elizabeth Cousins, President and CEO of the United Nations Foundation, said, “This is a perishable opportunity And one we can’t miss.”