The world was off track in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, even before the COVID-19 crisis erupted, but can get back on course by increasing investment in public services, showing solidarity on financing, and "reshaping" how people work, learn, live and consume.
"We can turn this around, if we stay true to the 2030 Agenda", said Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, as she closed the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) - an annual stock-take of the world's progress in reaching the SDGs, but "the road ahead is now even steeper", she added.
After eight days of discussions, she said the message is clear on the need for solidarity and foresight on financing, and greater investments in social protections, health systems, education, water, sanitation and digital connectivity.
Staying true to the 2030 Agenda also means reimagining the way people work, learn, live and consume, and listening to young people, who are demanding justice and equality. And it means investing in an inclusive, networked multilateralism, with the United Nations at the centre.
"If we do all of this - consciously, concertedly, cooperatively - we can build a better world, our shared destination," she assured. All efforts must be made to step-up implementation of the 2030 Agenda. "As an international community, we must rise to the test of this pivotal moment."
In the lead up to 2020 High-level Political Forum, SDG Acceleration Actions have seen a 35 per cent increase in submissions and a 21 per cent increase in published actions, just within the last two months, featuring a total of 182 bold commitments in concrete terms to advance the goals that have been made by national Governments and other stakeholders.
The Forum heard 47 countries present their Voluntary National Reviews (or VNRs), along with 150 speakers in the thematic sessions, including one Prime Minister and 31 ministerial officials, contributing online, representing all regions.
COVID-19 a rare opportunity to 'shape a new normal'
"The 2030 Agenda remains our shared roadmap to achieve the future we want", said Mona Juul, President of the Economic and Social Council, which hosted the two-week Forum.
Stressing that COVID-19 should not change the commitment to "realizing the future we want", she outlined areas for accelerated progress - first and foremost to advance human wellbeing. Discussions centred on greater educational access for girls, which in turn, will reduce infant and maternal mortality.
She highlighted the importance of creating integrated food systems to drive inclusive growth, agriculture, sustainability, and achieve zero hunger.
Recovering better also means protecting the planet, she said, by addressing climate change and the "alarming" rate of biodiversity loss, land and forest degradation.
'New world of opportunities'
Ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy will be crucial to offering a "new world of opportunities" for billions of people, she said.
In the area of urban development, she underscored the essential role of local governments in transforming global intentions into community action. "All of our discussions have underlined that the recovery from COVID-19 represents a rare opportunity to shape a new normal", she said.