26 September 2022 Speech by Federal Minister Svenja Schulze at the annual meeting of the German Council for Sustainable Development

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Ladies and gentlemen,

“Our world is in deep trouble – and so too are the Sustainable Development Goals.” With these words, UN Secretary-General Guterres opened the United Nations High-Level Political Forum in July.

We urgently need the social, the environmental transformation envisaged by the 2030 Agenda. But we are facing huge challenges. Global crises – climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact of Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine – are reinforcing each other and bringing earlier gains to a standstill. And the latest Human Development Report published by the UN Development Programme recently showed that living conditions have in fact been worsening in nine out of ten countries.

We are halfway to the target year for the 2030 Agenda, and we can see more and more clearly that the international community will fail to reach its goals unless it increases its efforts.

At the same time, the multiple crises highlight the importance of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, because the international community needs to address the causes of the crises if it wants to move out of permanent crisis mode. The 2030 Agenda – I’m really convinced – shows us the way.

Now is the time to act. As an international community, we need to jointly tackle the challenges we are faced with. This is our common responsibility. And I am convinced that, together, we can do it!

There are four specific points which I address in my work with a view to responding to the crises and putting the focus back on sustainable development.

First, poverty and hunger are still two of the most pressing problems. Worldwide, hunger affects 828 million people – not least because of the disruption of supply chains caused by the war against Ukraine. That number is significantly higher than before the COVID-19 pandemic.

That is why, in May this year, I launched the Global Alliance for Food Security in the G7 together with the World Bank. One purpose of the Alliance is to ensure that the support reaches those in the greatest need. In the long term, the Alliance is also intended to bring about structural change, for example the establishment of stable supply chains and resilient agricultural systems.

Second, the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic will still be felt for a long time – especially in the countries of the Global South. We want to make a strong recovery from the pandemic, mitigate its impacts and be better prepared for future pandemics. That is why we are working to make vaccines and vaccine production accessible worldwide, and to make health systems more resilient.

Third, if we want to succeed in halting climate change and limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees, the global population must be part of the effort. Germany, together with other partners, is working to make the social and environmental transformation socially just – a Just Transition. Just Energy Transition Partnerships – like the one which we launched with South Africa – are an important tool for this.

Fourth, we need gender equality if we want to achieve all these goals. This became clear to me again during my recent visit to South America. At present, in most countries of the world women do not have the same rights as men – and certainly not the same opportunities as men. Research has shown that societies are more sustainable if women enjoy equal participation. That is why I pursue an active feminist development policy in order to strengthen the rights, the resources and representation of women.

It is important to respond to crisis situations immediately in order to prevent suffering and save lives. However, we must not forget the continuing challenges that are not in the limelight. Climate change, the pandemic, conflicts and wars must not be played off against each other. Rather, their causes must be addressed in parallel. This requires fundamental, structural changes. Among other things, the German government supports the reform actions proposed by UN Secretary-General Guterres in his Our Common Agenda report regarding the protection of global public goods and the establishment of an emergency platform to be prepared for future crises. Regarding the 2024 Summit of the Future, Germany is calling for putting the focus on accelerating the 2030 Agenda.

Let us consider the complex crises of our times as an appeal to us all: now is the time to make the necessary investments and set the course for resilient and sustainable societies worldwide! And the 2030 Agenda remains our guiding light for that.

Now I am eager to listen to the following contributions, and I look forward to our discussion.

Thank you very much.