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Address by Her Majesty the Queen on the occasion of the SDG Changemakers Event

12 October 2020

Remobilizing for the Sustainable Development Goals in the Time of COVID

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The COVID-19 crisis has brought to light the fragilities of our societies and of our world.

The future holds more uncertainties. Inequalities are on the rise.  Too many children and young people have dropped out of the education system. More people are facing mental health issues. Many among the most vulnerable are at risk of sliding, or falling back, into poverty.

Reaching the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 will therefore require a renewed and vigorous impulse. We cannot let the COVID crisis distract us from the longer-term objectives we have set for ourselves.  

On the other hand, when faced with the unexpected challenge of the pandemic, citizens, communities, civil society, the private sector and governments have demonstrated their capacity to rally and mobilize.

We can draw some lessons from this.

Tackling unsustainability in all its dimensions is the next urgent challenge. Building sustainable societies should be the next goal. And we need to “build back better”.

There has been progress, undoubtedly. But there are still many gaps. For instance, in mainstreaming sustainability at all levels. In learning to think differently. In developing positive and convincing narratives for all. In sharing knowledge and vision.

The time has also come to connect the profusion of innovations for sustainability, which we have witnessed over the years, into a coherent system of mutually reinforcing transformations.

For all stakeholders to finally become the owners of a shared vision of the future we want, and for no one to be left behind, building confidence through all sectors of society will be key. Participation will play a major role. Intelligent communication will be a powerful tool.  

Your contribution, as present and future changemakers, is also to create and develop concrete solutions. You can help make them understandable and accessible. And you can share your experiences widely. 

The next generation of leaders, managers, changemakers, and citizens is already with us. I hope they will be heard and supported. We owe it to them, and we owe it to society as a whole.