24 and 25 September 2019, Heads of State and Government gathered at the United Nations Headquarters in New York to follow up and comprehensively review progress in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDG Summit was the first High-level Political Forum (HLPF) to convene under the auspices of the UN General Assembly since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda in September 2015.

With just over a decade left to the target date of 2030, Member States adopted a Political Declaration (A/HLPF/2019/L.1) that pledges accelerated action and delivery. It importantly requests the UN Secretary-General to engage governments and stakeholders in generating solutions and accelerating action to address systemic gaps in implementation, and commits heads of states, governments and high representatives to bolster local action to accelerate implementation.

The Summit also officially launched the 2019 Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR), entitled “The Future is Now: Science for Achieving Sustainable Development.” It is the first quadrennial report to be written by an independent group of scientists and it finds that the current development model is not sustainable, and the progress made in the last two decades is in danger of being reversed through worsening social inequalities and potentially irreversible declines in the natural environment, including climate change and biodiversity. A far more optimistic future is still attainable, but only if governments, business, communities and civil society drastically transform development policies through coordinated action.

During the opening of the SDG Summit, UN Secretary-General António Guterres issued a global call for accelerate progress towards the SDGs in three essential areas: global action, local action, and people action. “Now is the time for bold leadership, both individual and collective,” he said. Guterres also announced an “annual platform” to drive a decade of action, the first of which will take place in September 2020 in the context of the UN’s 75th anniversary. Experts at the opening debate recommended the localisation of the SDGs and the creation of experimental spaces for collaboration that enable policy makers to interact with different sectors.

The Summit featured six “leaders dialogues” on: megatrends impacting the achievement of the SDGs; accelerating the achievement of the SDGs: critical entry points; measures to leverage progress across the SDGs; localising the SDGs; partnerships for sustainable development; and the 2020-2030 vision. In the session on localising the SDGs, it was highlighted the importance of building local ownership and recognising the critical role of local and regional governments as first responders to which people can turn for accessible support. The session also discussed the structural challenges faced by local and regional governments, such as data limitations and adequate resources availability, and the need for a renewed commitment to international partnerships.

The special edition of the Report of the Secretary-General on SDG Progress 2019 can be found here.

A compilation of flagship publications and reports, prepared by the UN system, can be accessed here.

The archived webcast of the SDG Summit is available on:

For a complete coverage of the SDG Summit, access the IISD/ENG daily and summary reports, available here.

To find out about Regions4 participation at the Summit and the Second Local and Regional Governments Forum, please click here.