The United States strongly supports the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, said U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Samantha Power in recent remarks to the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development at the United Nations. However, Power stressed that 2021 presented three profound challenges to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. They include the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, rising authoritarianism fueled in part by corruption, and the climate crisis.
In response to COVID-19 President Joe Biden announced that the United States will provide half-a-billion Pfizer vaccines for distribution by COVAX to 92 low-and lower-middle income countries and economies and the African Union. These vaccine doses are in addition to the 80 million doses previously committed, and the $2 billion the U.S. donated to COVAX, the multilateral COVID-vaccination effort.
The COVID situation is urgent, stressed Administrator Power. “We are not just fighting a disease; we are fighting to secure decades of development progress that the pandemic is unwinding:”
“COVID-19 has swelled the ranks of the poor, pushing 124 million more people into poverty and hunger, and leading to the first global rise in extreme poverty in nearly 30 years. It is pulling over a billion children out of school, millions of whom - specifically girls - may never return.”
Moreover, the pandemic has given cover to regimes to postpone elections, limit free assembly, and silence the press.
Administrator Power said, “We must be vigilant about the repression that is happening right now because we know that democracy and a government’s respect for human rights are fundamental to truly inclusive sustainable development. Countries with ineffective government institutions, rampant corruption, and weak rule of law have a 30-to-45 percent higher risk of civil war, as well as a higher risk of extreme criminal violence.”
Another culprit is corruption. It limits economic growth, chokes off investment, extinguishes trust in public institutions, robs public and private resources, and props up authoritarians and human rights abusers.
With regard to the climate crisis, the United States is leading this fight by committing to reduce its net greenhouse gas emissions by 50 to 52 percent, from 2005 levels by 2030.
“Our development challenges are shared challenges,” said Administrator Power. “Together, we must translate the bold promise of the historic consensus of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development into better lives for people everywhere.”