The eminent Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Advocates “will build on their unique standing and leadership to promote the SDGs as part of an ambitious and transformative global development agenda,” a UN spokesperson said.
“They are to support the Secretary-General in his efforts to generate momentum and commitment to achieve the SDGs by 2030,” the spokesperson added in a note to correspondents, which also listed the panellists.
The co-chairs are Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama and Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg. Members include Queen Mathilde of Belgium; Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden; Jack Ma, Founder and Executive Chairman of the Chinese Alibaba Group of Internet-based businesses; and Leo Messi, the world renowned Argentine-born footballer, who is already a UN Children’s Fund Goodwill Ambassador.
The 2030 Agenda, adopted unanimously by 193 Heads of State and other top leaders at a summit at UN Headquarters in New York in September, calls on all countries to achieve 17 SDGs, addressing the needs of people in both developed and developing countries.
They build on the earlier eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which specifically sought by 2015: to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and empower women; reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability; and develop a global partnership for development.
But progress on these was uneven across regions and countries, leaving millions of people behind, especially the poorest and those disadvantaged due to sex, age, disability, ethnicity or geographic location. This is where the SDGs come in.
They stress everything from zero poverty, zero hunger, good health, quality education, gender equality, clean water and sanitation, and affordable clean energy, to decent work and economic growth, innovation, reduced inequalities, sustainable cities, responsible consumption, climate action, unpolluted oceans and land, and partnerships to achieve the goals.
“The SDG Advocates will promote the universal character of the SDGs, including their commitment to leave no one behind; to promote the engagement of new stakeholders in the implementation and financing of the SDGs; to encourage partnerships with governments, civil society and the private sector to share knowledge and resources; and to raise awareness for the integrated nature of the SDGs,” the spokesperson said.
The other Advocates are: Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Co-Founder of the Qatar Foundation; screenwriter, producer and film director Richard Curtis; Dho Young-Shim, Chairperson of the UN World Tourism Organization’s Sustainable Tourism Foundation; Leymah Gbowee, Director of the Gbowee Peace; Graça Machel, President of the Foundation for Community Development; Alaa Murabit; Founder of The Voice of Libyan Women; Paul Polman, Chief Executive Officer of Unilever; Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Colombia University; Shakira Mebarak, Founder of the Pies Descalzos Foundation; actor Forest Whitaker, Founder of the Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative; and Noble Peace Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus, Founder of the Grameen Bank.