Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, Special Advisor to the United Nations Secretary-General on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) started his three-day visit to Iran this morning.
Dr. Sachs first met with Vice-President and the Head of Department of Environment (DoE), Madam Ebtekar. The two exchanged ideas on areas of joint collaboration between the Government of Iran and the United Nations in achieving the SDGs.
At this meeting, Madam Ebtekar said: “In Iran, political will from the highest ranking government officials exists to achieve the SDGs. We hope to move forward strongly. However, there some obstacles on the way including the high unemployment rate in the country, adverse effects of climate change and other environmental challenges.”
Dr. Sachs referred to theSustainable Development Solutions Network which he directs and said Iranians will benefit from joining this network to discuss the challenges they face in regards to achieving the SDGs. He added: “By joining this network, the world will also learn from Iran in its areas of strength.”
Following the meeting, Dr. Ebtekar and Dr. Sachs attended the “Implementation of Sustainable Development Goals in Iran” event which was organized by the DoE. Among the attendees at this event were government officials from different ministries, some members of the UN Country Team in Iran including the UN Resident Coordinator, Mr. Gary Lewis.
At the event multiple references were made to President Rouhani’s speech which he delivered in September 2015 in New York at the Summit of SDGs in which he stated: “Without extensive cooperation at the national, regional and international levels, achieving the SDGs will be very difficult. Such cooperation should be mindful of our common destiny and joint commitment towards important human responsibilities”.
Speaking at the event, Mr. Lewis referred to the importance of the Sustainable Development Summit (Sep 2015 in New York) and the Paris Agreement on climate change (Dec 2015): “To me these events demonstrate that the world and its leadership is capable of conceiving and then implementing of a vast vision which ought to allow us to reach sustainable development.”
Mr. Lewis added: “United Nations has been here – in this country – since the year 1950. It retains a very strong commitment to the people and the Government of Iran in order to help deliver on SDGs.”
Dr. Sachs was the keynote speaker at the event. He stated: “All countries – right now – are really facing a crisis together. As President Rouhani said, ‘we are in the same boat’ and this is unavoidable. We – as countries – agreed on the SDGs and in Paris on Climate Change Agreement because we are all scared of the realities we will face if we do not cooperate as the challenges are very very large and global.”
Dr. Sachs went on: “We are in a paradoxical time in history. On the one hand the world’s technological and scientific know-how is so great that we can solve all problems that we face including water related issues, educational, and climate change. At the same time because of this technological capacity and economic growth that the world has experienced in the past half century, we have had economic growth without understanding its risks. The sum of our global economic actions is now threating our survival. Thus, on the one hand we should be celebrating our global capacity, and yet we have not felt so fragile in the world as we do now. And there is really no part of the world that escapes this reality.”
Dr. Sachs concluded by saying: “SDGs Solution Network will be honored to work with [Iran’s] students, engineers, policy makers to see if we can help you find practical solutions which can be implemented in Iran. The only possible solution to these challenges is through global cooperation. President Rouhani has rightly mentioned this multiple times. Cooperation across borders is absolutely essential. And I am at your disposal to try to help you find every partnership possible. You will find in me a partner that is committed and it will be an honor to work with you to find solutions to these challenges.”
Dr. Sachs along with Madam Ebtekar unveiled the Sustainable Development Goals book as well as the Sustainable Development Goals Network which can serve as a platform to exchange ideas on the SDGs.
Speaking at the event Madam Ebtekar stated: “We often forget that we have no right to use all resources. We need to preserve and conserve for the future generations. This fact is reflected in each and every SDG which is adopted. What we need to do is to make this goal into reality and it our plans for achieving the goals we need to keep this important point in mind.”
The Vice-President and the Head of the Department of Environment concluded the ceremony by saying: “Iran is ready to join the Sustainable Development Solutions Network. The government is trying to achieve the SDGs through an inter-sectoral approach at the national level and beyond this we will cooperate at the international level to achieve these goals.”