Salil Shetty, secretary-general of the Amnesty International, created quite a buzz at the United Nations on Friday with his hard-hitting speech during the Sustainable Development Summit 2015.
Shetty’s speech, which came before Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the forum, sent out a clear warning to the UN general assembly that their pledges would need to be backed by action, accountability and inclusivity if the goals were to succeed.
The SDGs or global goals, including assuring gender equality and building a life of dignity for all, were adopted as global leaders descended at the UN headquarters on the historic occasion of the world body's landmark 70th anniversary session.
The 193-member General Assembly adopted the new development agenda on Friday after years of intense negotiations.
The sustainable development goals must be inclusive and owned by those they are intended to help, he said.
“The appalling story of the three-year-old Syrian child Alan Kurdi, whose dead body on the beach shocked the world, sums it up. We cannot hide the reality of the world we live in. And then... there is the world we want, the world represented by the SDGs,” Shetty said.
“We cannot blame people for being sceptical when they see yet another Summit Declaration. There is a huge gap between the world we live in, and the world we want. But these goals represent people’s aspirations and rights and they must and can be realised,” he added.
He also suggested four practical tests to realise the goals and prove the sceptics wrong.
First, the sustainable development goals must be inclusive and owned by those they are intended to help. Secondly, there must be sufficient information to allow people to hold their governments to account. Thirdly, the goals must not discriminate, marginalise, nor leave anyone behind. Finally, Shetty said, they must be coherent and consistent.
Asserting that the SDGs present a compass for decent jobs, for justice, for humanity, Shetty said that the civil society will stand with the poor and marginalized at all costs and hold governments and businesses to account.