Bafana Khumalo, Sonke’s Senior Programmes Specialist, is in New York attending the United Nations special Summit on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), where world leaders will adopt a new blueprint for international development under the slogan, “Leave no one behind”.
Khumalo is attending the summit as part of various civil society groupings from all over the world which are lobbying for change and development on various issues, including poverty alleviation, economic development, fighting injustice and climate change.
“I arrived in New York after 15h30 on a non-stop flight from Johannesburg to find a mood that was upbeat with the excitement of the first visit of the popular Catholic Pope Frances. The Pope did not disappoint. He gave a powerful speech at the US Congress in Washington, DC, in support of efforts to manage the threat of climate change. This is one of the key discussion points in this UNGA70, as leaders will be finalising negotiations on the SDGs”, Khumalo says.
“It is appropriate that the Pope foregrounded the discourse on climate change in the belly of North American power where there are still sceptics on this subject and this lays a good foundation for the discourse on the SDGs”, he observes.
The Pope will be addressing the UN General Assembly in New York today. His address is expected with much anticipation as one of the few moral leaders with great influence.
“This is significant since his predecessors tended to be very conservative on the many vital points that are a subject of discussion at the UNGA70. As civil society, we have also been lobbying the faith based sector to play a positive role in the negotiations. With this pope at least uttering good positions on the development agenda, especially on gender matters, this sets the tone for an interesting time ahead”, according to Khumalo.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is the next blueprint relating to international development. They set out a vision for the future in which a number of global issues, including gender equality, are tackled over the next 15 years leading up to 2030. The SDGs will come in place of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) once they expire at the end of this year. World leaders representing the 193 UN Member States will adopt the SDGs in New York at a special summit which ends on the 27th.