UNITED NATIONS, NEW YORK: Saudi Arabia on Tuesday urged global leaders to embrace bold thinking and collaboration to achieve the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals that aims to end world poverty and inequality, and promote good health and quality education for all.
In a powerful speech delivered at the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development Goals at the UN in New York, Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning Faisal Al-Ibrahim acknowledged the challenges faced by the world at the midpoint of the SDG agenda.
“We gather here during this crucial point in the sustainable development agenda, each carrying our own experiences, stories, successes, failures, lessons, but also emotions,” he told the ministerial-level gathering. “We have the shared purpose of accelerating our collective ability to leave no one behind,” he added.
The forum is a central UN platform for the follow-up and review of the 2030 SDG agenda. It is held annually at the UN, bringing together its agencies, member states, civil society organizations, and other stakeholders, to assess progress, share experiences and discuss challenges.
The gathering provides a space for countries to present their Voluntary National Reviews on achieving the 17 SDGs.
Reflecting on the journey since the first VNRs, Al-Ibrahim highlighted three critical lessons that could pave the way for solid achievements in various fields.
The first lesson underscored the interconnectedness of global challenges, with their impacts transcending borders — from disease control to wildfires, agricultural disruptions to financial tremors, Al-Ibrahim said.
“The world has been getting ever more integrated for thousands of years. So, without collaboration, we will never solve the most complex global issues,” he said.
The second crucial lesson emphasized the importance of innovation and experimentation in driving economic change, which required a bold approach, Al-Ibrahim said.
The third lesson was to prioritize human capital development, with the knowledge and creativity of individuals being “the bedrock of societal progress.” He urged leaders to invest in education, healthcare, and empowering people to reach their full potential.
The minister said Saudi Arabia had, with various initiatives, embarked on a “momentous journey of transformation, with the SDGs deeply embedded into (the nation’s) framework.”
The Kingdom’s recognition of global interdependencies was showcased through the Middle East Green Initiative, a pioneering regional effort.
“This initiative is a testament to our commitment to environmental sustainability, the importance of renewable energy, and our understanding that regional challenges require collaboration and collective action,” Al-Ibrahim said.
Fostering a culture of experimentation, Saudi Arabia drew inspiration from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s commitment to “challenging conventional wisdom.” He said this commitment was “deeply ingrained in our daily policymaking process,” leading to significant economic transformation.
The country’s “unwavering commitment” to human capital development was demonstrated through tangible actions, including expanding access to quality education, providing a safety net for those in need, and enhancing healthcare services for citizens.
Saudi Arabia’s contribution of $87 billion to international aid projects underscored its commitment to combating global poverty and accelerating development.
Al-Ibrahim said the time for passive reflection was over. “I firmly believe that we can — and will — create a world that future generations deserve to inherit.”