Many countries will struggle to meet the majority of Sustainable Development Goals outlined by the United Nations Development Program at its current rate of implementation, its administrator, Achim Steiner, said Tuesday.
Speaking in an interview with Kyodo News, Steiner said that in order to meet the goals, “We need to significantly change the pace of implementation and we need to embrace the challenge of transformation.”
U.N. members are aiming to achieve the 17 objectives by 2030, including the eradication of poverty and starvation, gender equality, sustainable cities and communities, and tackling climate change.
Failure to meet the goals would ultimately raise the risk of social unrest, ecological collapse and economic crisis at a global scale, Steiner said.
“Whether it is water, too little, too much, whether it is temperatures, too low, too high, they not only impose human suffering, they destroy nature and cost us hundreds of billions of dollars.”
He also said that those arguing against acting on those global threats one day “will face the court of justice” for negligence, manslaughter and other charges.
Steiner is in Japan to attend the three-day Tokyo International Conference on African Development in Yokohama, which started Wednesday and will run through Friday.
As developed and large developing countries have been investing in Africa, Steiner expressed hope regarding the relationship between the SDGs and China’s “Belt and Road” infrastructure development initiative.
“The role of the United Nations is neither to promote nor to oppose an initiative of one country,” he said, while adding that China “could become a net positive contributor” if it invests in areas such as developing clean energy and creating jobs and better health care systems.