UN chief: serious threats challenge implementation of 2030 development goals

Source: Xinhua| 2018-02-28 06:01:52|Editor: yan
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UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned on Tuesday that attainment of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) faces serious threats rooted in the "fears and anxieties and even the anger of the people."

"Our world is facing a crisis of legitimacy, of confidence, of trust," he told the opening of the "operational segment" of the Economic and Social Council's consideration of proposals for UN development reform. "This crisis is not abstract -- it is rooted in the legitimate fears, anxieties and even anger of people."

"Let's be clear, the situation is not a situation in which we can take for granted that Agenda 2030 will be fully implemented; there are a number of serious threats in the way global development is taking place, in the way the global economy is evolving, in the way technology is evolving," he said.

The meeting marks the beginning of formal consideration by UN member states of the secretary-general's proposals for the UN Development System's reform. The three-day session will provide an opportunity for the states to debate key areas of transformation and related proposals found in his December 2017 report.

"No one can doubt the many benefits of globalization, the integration of the world's economies, the expansion of trade, the stunning advances in technology, (that) more people have risen out of extreme poverty than ever before, the global middle class is bigger than ever, more people are living longer and healthier lives," Guterres said.

The secretary-general listed common complaints heard across the globe.

Women are less likely to participate in the labor market and when they do they are faced with gender pay gaps, youth unemployment is at alarming levels, a big concern in relation to the welfare of young people, in relation to development, but also in relation to global security, the secretary-general said.

"Inequalities are rampant, stretching the fabric of societies to the breaking point and undermining the social compact," he said. "People are rightly questioning a world where a handful of men hold the same wealth as half of humanity and they are men by the way, not a single woman," the UN chief added.

Whole regions, countries and communities can find themselves "marooned from waves of progress and left behind by growth," he said. "Exclusion has a price: frustration, alienation, instability. Life chances and contributions become severely limited."

While there is growing vulnerability to economic and climate-related shocks, Guterres said, so grows the danger of forced migration and the temptation to fall prey to the siren songs of extremist ideologies.

Even though all is not on the down side, there still remain challenges.

"Technology is transforming how we live and work, from bio-engineering to synthetic biology to artificial intelligence to data analytics and to many other aspects," the secretary-general said. "Yet, as much as technology is a vector of hope, it is also a source of fear."

"The world is only beginning to address the dark side of innovation, from cybersecurity threats to the natural impacts of the Fourth Industrial Revolution on our societies and labor markets," he said. "We already see the crippling impact of cyber-attacks on public infrastructure, and on electoral processes. The risks of cyber warfare between nations are increasing."

"Artificial intelligence is changing the game and can boost development and transform lives in spectacular fashion," the UN chief said. "But it may also have a dramatic impact on labor markets and, indeed, on global security and societies as a whole."

Guterres pointed out that in addition to the World Wide Web being "an incredible platform for free speech," it magnifies hate speech.

While seizing the potential of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, nations have to safeguard against its dangers, he said.

"All of this compels us to do all we can to achieve inclusive and sustainable development -- a goal in its own right, but also our best form of prevention against all kind of risks," the secretary-general said.

"To rebuild trust, we need to build a fair globalization," Guterres said and he believes the 2030 Agenda is the United Nation's contribution to that end.

"The 2030 Agenda is our roadmap and its goals and targets are tools to get there," he said.