Over the last weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the SDG Action Weekend held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. This was a two-day event that involved many high-level stakeholders across different countries and sectors, coming together to promote frameworks, initiatives, and strategies to get the SDGs back on track for 2030. The event was split into two days. The first day is the Mobilization Day, which focuses creating platforms and forums for all stakeholders to come together and mobilize towards the SDG Summit in the following days. The second day is the Acceleration Day, which focuses on UN High-Impact Initiatives. These initiatives all involve high level decision makers from private sector, public sector, and civil societies to create high impact and influential frameworks for SDGs.
One of the sessions I went to was the Local2030 Coalition, which included panels with speakers with strong commitments towards achieving SDGs at the local level. This event aims to bring together leaders to leverage resources and finance a pipeline of local-level initiatives that focus on assisting local governments and agencies fund their localized activities towards the SDGs. One speaker that stood out to me was the Claudia López Hernández, who is the first female and openly LGBT mayor of Bogotá, Colombia. She stressed the importance of getting local women into proper social situations to achieve the SDGs. Gender inequality is locking 50% of the country’s population out of the labor force, which drastically harms the prospects of getting the SDGs on track for 2030. Another panelist was Joshua Green, the current governor of the State of Hawaii. He shared about the importance of climate change given the context of the recent Maui wildfire. He also stressed the urgent need to build resilience in communities that are more vulnerable to increasingly frequent extreme climate events.
At the end of the event, closing remarks were given by the inspiring Deputy Secretary General of UN, Amina J. Mohammed. She summarized the event and side-events and all the other 12 High Impact Initiatives that took place during the weekend. One quote by her really stuck with me, stating that “We cannot wait until crisis are done to start development”. She urges leaders and decision-makers to start picking up the pace if we want to meet the SDGs in the coming seven years.
Last but not least, academy award winning actress, Natalie Portman, was also there to give her closing remarks to the event. It was amazing to see her in person!
Placement Site: UNICEF, New York