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UN General Assembly president calls for action to return world to sustainable development

Abdulla Shahid, president of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly, speaks during an emergency special session of the UN General Assembly on Ukraine at the UN headquarters in New York, on Feb. 28, 2022.(Xinhua/Wang Ying)

"Let us ensure that future generations look back on this pandemic, on this period in history, not only as one of grief and trial, but of renewal and change," UN General Assembly President Abdulla Shahid said.

UNITED NATIONS, July 13 (Xinhua) -- UN General Assembly President Abdulla Shahid on Wednesday proposed action in five areas to bring the world back on track toward sustainable development.

The volume, magnitude, and scale of complex challenges to sustainable development are arguably both unprecedented and unrelenting today, he said. "From deepening climate change and regional conflicts, to rising inequality and food insecurity, the challenges we face threaten to derail the goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda."

At the opening of the ministerial segment of the High-level Political Forum on sustainable development, convened under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council, he made five key recommendations.

"First, we must take action to get us there. We must invest in innovation, technology and behavioral change that bring about the future we want and need. This includes increasing investments into areas supportive of social protection, poverty reduction, the environment and climate action, as well as empowering youth as agents of a sustainable transformation," he said.

Second, there is a need to learn the lessons from COVID-19, particularly where systems and policies proved dysfunctional. There is a need to invest in the kinds of actions that can protect the most vulnerable, ensure resilient livelihoods, and leverage the power of science and technology, he said.

Third, there is a need to push for reform measures in the international financial system, in debt relief and vulnerabilities, and in overseas development assistance and humanitarian relief, he said.

People weave carpets at a weaving workshop at Saqqara village in Giza, Egypt, July 2, 2022. (Xinhua/Ahmed Gomaa)

Fourth, there is a need to address the situation of the most vulnerable countries. This includes shaping targeted responses to the issues they face. This also includes advancing a Multidimensional Vulnerability Index as a vital tool to help vulnerable countries access financing to respond to these crises, he said.

Fifth, there is a need to renew the commitment to the sustainable development of Africa, including support for key actions to reach universal vaccination, achieve food security, and ensure energy access across the continent, he said.

"The last three years, despite being marked by immense global tragedy and grief, gave us the much-needed pause to reassess the state of our world and our existence, and to see what needs to be fixed, replaced, renewed, reimagined or transformed," said Shahid.

"We have yet to fully seize that historic opportunity for a profound transformation, renewal, and reset. Let us change that. Let us resolve to act now. Let us ensure that future generations look back on this pandemic, on this period in history, not only as one of grief and trial, but of renewal and change. Let us ensure that the pain we have experienced translates into lessons learned, into actions, and into a more inclusive, sustainable, and hopeful future," he added. ■