Welcome address of the UN Resident Coordinator at the 2019 Social Good Summit
Mr. Almgren enjoins the Filipino youth to discover the social good, to push the boundaries of their online lives
Ten years ago, Mashable, the United Nations Foundation, and the United Nations Department Programme teamed up to launch the Social Good Summit.
The Social Good Summit is a collective effort to tackle the most important issues of our time. It brings together global leaders and activists for a day of constructive dialogue and onstage activations.
Every Summit has always had a powerful lasting impact. Activism is celebrated and attendees are galvanized into action. In the Philippines, Rappler has been leading the Summit, with equally impactful results, and I would like to thank Maria Ressa and acknowledge our friends at Rappler for convening the Summit in the Philippines with a view to sparking action in our digital age.
In 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals, were adopted by all United Nations Member States as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030.
Four years after the adoption of the SDGs, the picture is not so rosy. No country is on track to meeting all the goals. In particular, half of the world’s nations are likely to miss the targets for SDG 1 (No Poverty).
We are losing ground in other areas. One million species are threatened with extinction, We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide. While high-income countries, particularly the Nordic countries, topped the global ranking for SDG achievement, they obtained their worst ratings on SDG 14 (Life Below water) and SDG 15 (Life on Land). Young people around the world are taking to the street to protest the lack of environmental action by governments and businesses.
We are confronted by threats arising from climate crisis, poverty and inequality, protracted conflict, migration and displacement, and the rapid changes in demography and technology. These will require effective cooperation across borders, sectors and generations. Failure to do so will have far-reaching consequences for the welfare of our children and grandchildren —and our planet itself.
But just when we need bold collective action more than ever, multilateralism is being called into question. Unilateralism is on the rise, as the world becomes more multipolar but also more polarized. In many parts of the world, there is a growing disconnect between people and institutions. Renewed support for global cooperation could not be more urgent.
That urgency is the driving factor for the UN as it turns 75 next year.
The year 2020 will mark the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. Our 75th year will be less of a celebration, but rather a pretext to seek means to rejuvenate global cooperation through dialogues across the world around the future people aspire to, the threats to that future, and the tools needed for global cooperation to overcome these threats and support the road to the future they seek.
The “UN@75 and Beyond” campaign will launch “the biggest global conversation on how we will navigate this turbulent period for the world.”
Dialogues will be held at the global, regional, national and local levels and will be convened by member States, civil society, academia, labor and business groups, the youth, and by the UN itself, under the direct leadership of the Secretary-General. These dialogues will be framed by three questions:
The first is, “What kind of a world do we want to create?” Let’s pause briefly to imagine the world in 2045—when the UN turns 100. What kind of future would we have then bequeathed to our grandchildren?
The second question is, “Where is the world heading?” What would 2045 look like if current trends continue? Will we have achieved the Sustainable Development Goals and addressed the threats we face at present? Or could we expect a different set of challenges to have emerged?
Finally, we will ask ourselves, “What action is needed to close the gap—the difference between the future we want and the future that our children will probably inherit?”
These dialogues, which will be conducted throughout 2020, will produce the first-ever repository of crowd-sourced global solutions. The United Nations will set up both digital and analog feedback loops to gather views and recommendations and solutions emerging from the dialogues.
In the same way that the My World Survey, which was conducted from 2008 to 2012, and in which people were asked to name their most urgent needs, helped to shape the SDGs, UN@75 hopes to inspire us to further reimagine the future, and to restore or reinforce our confidence in an inclusive multilateralism as the most effective way to overcome the challenges of our current era.
The United Nations is continuously working to earn your confidence. As we enter a decade of action on the SDGs, and as we ask for more urgency and ambition on climate change, with 2020 being a crucial year, the United Nations will continue to evolve in step with current and emerging needs in order to remain relevant to all. The United Nations refuses to get stuck in old ways of doing things, running faster and faster only to stay in the same place. Rather, we are taking a giant leap of faith, with you, to get ahead of the problems that stand in the way of the future we want. We will work tirelessly to be the UN you deserve.
On the other hand, we enjoin you, especially the youth, to help support the building of a networked and inclusive multilateralism through the power of social media.
We are all aware of the potentials as well as the pitfalls of using social media. On the one hand, it is unbeatable as a networking tool. At the same time, this same power could be used to further divide our world, to promote falsehood, and to sow hate. In other words, to further polarize our world.
Social media is a double-edged sword, but one that you, especially, could most effectively harness for good.
I invite you to continue to discover the social good, to push the boundaries of your online lives in order to engage just as enthusiastically in efforts to build our common future. We are excited to see how your online engagement ripens into offline action that will have a transformative impact on your personal lives, your families, and your communities.
The SDGs are a roadmap to our collective future, but you and your children have a greater stake in their achievement. The world in 2030 and beyond is the future that you will inhabit. Make it a future that far exceeds the one that we have bequeathed to you. Create the future you need: it is within your reach.
I wish you all a very exciting Summit and look forward to hearing the voices and views of the impressive speakers here with us this afternoon.