Home / Agenda / Toespraak van Hare Majesteit de Koningin in het kader van de conferentie over de huidige toepassing van de Duurzame Ontwikkelingsdoelstellingen in de Europese Unie

Toespraak van Hare Majesteit de Koningin in het kader van de conferentie over de huidige toepassing van de Duurzame Ontwikkelingsdoelstellingen in de Europese Unie

18 juni 2024

Opening Speech by Her Majesty the Queen, High-Level Conference on SDGs in the EU, On Track to 2030?, Brussels, 18 June 2024

Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

In September 2023, all the Member States of the United Nations reconfirmed their clear commitment to the 2030 programme and its sustainable development goals, known as SDGs. That expressed a collective awareness of the challenges our world is faced with and the need to act in order to preserve future generations’ rights and quality of life.

The SDGs are not just a list of objectives: they translate a certain vision of the world we want to pass on to our children. Achieving them will help us bridge the gap between the world as it is and the world as it ought to be.

The eradication of poverty and hunger, access to a quality education and affordable health care, gender equality, eliminating discrimination, ending the harm we are doing to the natural world, renewable energy transition: if we want to build a fairer, more sustainable, more inclusive world, these are not just aspirations, they are obligations. Otherwise, inequalities will go on deepening, increasing tensions between and within countries.

So it is essential that countries embed the SDGs in their national, regional, and municipal strategies and, in the case of the European Union, in the European Semester, which guides policy-making and legislative content. Member States and the European Union are working hand in hand on this, something I have personally witnessed in the course of activities with the Commission in the areas of decent pay and humanitarian work, as well as the health and especially mental health sectors.

On my most recent field visits, to Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Ivory Coast, I was able to see for myself how developing countries are also building the SDGs into their development plans. To maximize the effectiveness of this, it is important that we give financial aid to such countries and also support the transfer of experience and best practice to them.

The seventeen Sustainable Development Goals are established and we are working on them, but we need to monitor progress towards realizing each one, using indicators to identify weak areas where extra effort is called for. To this end, the UN produces regular Sustainable Development Reports and Member States make Voluntary National Reports. For the first time, too, it is worth pointing out that the European Union has presented its own voluntary examination.     

According to these different evaluations, it is clear that progress has been made towards realizing the SDGs, across the world and in each nation, but it is also true that such progress is uneven. Some Objectives are well on the way to being achieved, whilst for others, we are moving forwards more slowly. In some cases, things are even going backwards, due to the after-effects of Covid, climate change, pollution, and the loss of biodiversity.

We can salute the progress that has been made in reducing poverty, fighting hunger, creating decent jobs and green economies, for example, but there is no room for complacency given the enormity of ongoing issues such as pay inequality between men and women, violence against women and girls, and the limited access to a quality education.

These realities led the UN Secretary General, António Guterres, to pull the alarm bell during the SDG Summit in New York last September. In his words, it is urgent that we accelerate the realization of the SDGs, since no country can afford to see the 2030 Programme fail.

As a result, world leaders endorsed an SDG stimulus of 500 billion US dollars annually in affordable long-term finance for developing countries. But the Secretary General asked the members of the international community to go further and he advocated for a new Bretton Woods root-and-branch reform of the international financial architecture which is, in his words, dysfunctional and unfair.

Success will only be possible if we pool our forces, if we strengthen partnerships between all stakeholders at all levels and in all sectors: the political world, the business community, civil society and, within this category, especially young people need to engage in meaningful decision-making because it is their world that we are shaping. We have to do this for them and with them. We carry a heavy responsibility towards our children and future generations. We must act now so they can benefit tomorrow.

We have just six years left to realize the programme we have collectively signed up to. The EU will get a chance to pledge its commitment to implementing the SDGs at the Summit of the Future next September. Times are hard, yes, but we must seize the moment and all put our foot on the gas to achieve the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals in full, no ifs, no buts.

We can still build a better world for everyone: let’s not allow this unique opportunity to slip through our fingers.

Thank you.