Since the United Nations (UN) was founded, over 75 years ago, our world has undergone tremendous progress. Globalisation completely reshaped our economy, enabling unprecedented interconnectedness of markets, exponential growth in international trade and the rise of multinational corporations.
Technological advancements – especially in information technology and communications – revolutionised industries, increasing productivity, efficiency, and global collaboration in the process.
However, this progress has come at a great cost for the planet and its benefits have been felt unevenly, leaving many people behind. In 2015, world leaders agreed on a game plan to end poverty, reduce inequalities and tackle climate change by 2030: the Global Goals. By signing up to these Goals, leaders recognised the need to work collectively towards an equitable, prosperous and sustainable future, fit for generations to come.
DOWN AT HALFTIME
Fast forward to 2023 and we’re at the halfway point to the Goals’ achievement. At our current rate of progress, only about 15% of them will be realised. The triple threat of Covid-19, conflict and climate change has stalled (and in some cases reversed) hard-earned development gains.
Tens of millions of people have been pushed into poverty, hunger is on the rise, and inequalities have deepened, especially for women and girls. Our relentless exploitation of nature has pushed us dangerously close to climate catastrophe.
As we find ourselves at this critical juncture, more than half of the world’s poorest countries are struggling with foreign debt and strong leadership is in short supply. It’s clear that we’re down at halftime.
FIGHTING THE ODDS
In September of this year, world leaders will gather once again at the UN for the SDG Summit. This will be a pivotal moment to reflect on the progress made so far and to agree on the best ways to tackle the challenges ahead. As the halftime whistle blows, some may argue that the game is all but lost.
They are wrong. The Global Goals are still the best plan we have to overcome these hurdles and create a better world for future generations. All that’s needed is the will to take action. Every game is won in the second half and the Summit will serve as a rallying cry to renew our efforts.
That is why we must call on world leaders to make ambitious promises in critical areas such as protecting from poverty, transforming food production, improving access to education, harnessing technology, and ensuring effective governance.
Further commitments are needed to ensure that the global financial system works in favour of countries in the Global South, rather than against them. This can only happen if we bring everyone onto the winning team, including business, academia, local government, youth and civil society.
With so much at stake, we have everything to play for. As we embark on the second half of the Global Goals, we must remember what we are fighting for and imagine winning. The vision of a better future, for people and planet, should fuel our determination to overcome the challenges ahead. It’s time to seize this opportunity, and work together to achieve a sustainable and equitable future for all.
We must do what all the greatest teams do when they’re down at halftime: we must regroup, re-energise, recommit, and get ready to go back out there and win.
That’s why we’re teaming up with the UN Office For Partnerships and a coalition of collaborators to launch The Halftime Campaign. The Campaign will mobilise action and galvanise efforts across all sectors of society, from now until the SDG Summit.
The stakes are high, but the potential rewards are even higher. Along with our partners, we are committed to making September the greatest halftime talk ever. Through the Campaign we will push world leaders to deliver bold, ambitious, accelerated and transformative actions.
In order to make this happen, we will need everyone across the world to take part and ensure that leaders know we are determined to win. Together, we can envision a world where the Global Goals become a reality. Together, let’s imagine winning!
Join the team at SDGhalftime.org