World leaders meet for summit to help world's poorest on eve of UN General Assembly

© Mohaned Belal, AFP

World leaders meet Monday at the United Nations in a bid to salvage ambitious promises to lift the planet's poorest, at a time when vulnerable nations are facing a volley of crises.

But the development summit, on the eve of the annual UN General Assembly that opens Tuesday, threatens to be eclipsed by growing geopolitical tensions -- which will be symbolised by the presence at the meeting in New York of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

In 2015, UN member states adopted the Sustainable Development Goals, 17 targets to transform the world by 2030 including by completely ending extreme poverty and making sure not a single of the planet's eight billion people goes hungry.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the summit will seek a "global rescue plan" on the targets, as he acknowledged that only about 15 percent were on track to be met and that metrics on some were heading in reverse.

The goals are "about the hopes, dreams, rights and expectations of people and the health of our natural environment," Guterres said.

"They're about righting historic wrongs, healing global divisions and putting our world on a path to lasting peace," he said.

Ambitions sidetracked

Efforts to devote money and attention to the goals have been repeatedly set back, including by the Covid-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine and other tumult, worsening climate catastrophes and sharp increases in the cost of living.


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