For the first time since the Goals were adopted last September, the UN assembled member states, civil society organisations and business leaders to establish “fruitful and effective” partnerships to achieve the 17 Goals by 2030.
In his opening remarks the president of the UN Assembly, Mr Mogens Lykketoft, said that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a new opportunity for the international community to create a better and fairer world, that member states cannot afford to fail, and that action is required.
Nobel laureate Leymah Ghowee from Liberia described the SDG's as "a new social contract for the planet, binding for everybody". She stressed the responsibility of governments to establish dialogue with all stakeholders and engage communities.
The 21 April meeting discussed the need for more international cooperation in tax and financial matters.
Mr Mogens Lykketoft, former Finance Minister of Denmark, said that in light of recent tax evasion and avoidance scandals, countries are less reluctant than before to improve international cooperation on fiscal challenges.
Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute and renown economist at the University of Columbia, had happy news: "We have all the money in the world. It is a matter of choice. Make the investment analysis." The question is how to get the trillions of dollars circulating in the private sector working for the SDG's, Sachs said. He recommended that low income countries do not accept wealthy nations to tell them that they have no money.
Education International (EI) General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen, who attended the UN event, believes that the Global Partnership For Education (GPE), which brings all stakeholders - governments, civil society organisations , education unions and the private sector - together to collect and distribute education funds and to monitor education programs, represents a model that may also work for other SDGs.
Some business leaders said that for corporations to become engaged in the implementation of the SDGs, it should become "commercially attractive." In one of the panel discussions the managing director of the Society for international development (SID), Stefan Prato, noted that "as long as investor's rights are prevailing over human rights, we should be reluctant to open the public domain to commercial activity.
Education International shares SID's concern, according to Van Leeuwen. "We are very much in favour of partnerships that will accelerate the achievement of SDG 4 (" Quality Education"). However, education is to be publicly funded and free. Education is both an individual and collective right. Rights can only be guaranteed by governments. That responsibility can never be outsourced to the market".