Permanent Mission of Australia
to the United Nations
New York

220210 - Our Common Agenda: Accelerating and scaling up the SDGs


10 February 2022

Statement by Dr Fiona Webster, Chargé d’Affaires, Permanent Mission of Australia to the United Nations 

Australia welcomes the opportunity to contribute to this first thematic consultation on Our Common Agenda. It is our hope that these consultations will help find areas of agreement on the report’s many proposals and chart a course toward a strengthened multilateral system.

As we begin these consultations, it is critical that we do not lose sight of existing reform efforts and make every effort to embed these as we shift focus to UN 2.0.

Today we discuss the first thematic cluster of proposals within Our Common Agenda – those aimed at accelerating the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and leaving no-one behind. For our part, Australia is staunchly committed to implementing the 2030 Agenda and achieving the SDGs.

These proposals speak to the idea that societies can only realise their full potential when they are guided by the principles of inclusion, protection and participation for all. Australia warmly endorses these ideals.

However, it’s crucial that our efforts fully reflect the spirit and intent of the 2030 Agenda and SDGs while elevating awareness of critical gaps in implementation. Australia is considering the proposals in Our Common Agenda on this basis.

Our Common Agenda emphasises the need for a renewed social contract, anchored in a comprehensive approach to human rights. As the report rightly identifies, the UN plays a critical role enshrining those core principles, such as respect for human rights, on which the international community has reached consensus.

We join others in encouraging further efforts by the UN to embed these principles globally, in order to achieve a better and sustainable future for all, as envisioned in the 2030 Agenda.

Our families, societies and economies benefit when women and girls are safe from violence, economically secure, and meaningfully represented in all levels of decision-making.

Australia strongly supports the report’s proposals regarding transformative gender measures. Achieving gender equality is central to the fulfilment of the SDGs and the attainment of stable and prosperous communities.

The UN system can and should do more to advance gender equality, and we applaud the Secretary-General’s commitment to achieving gender parity by 2028 and the planned review of UN staffing, resources and architecture, to deliver on gender equality as a core priority across all UN entities.

That said, we note that key elements of SDG 5 are not addressed by the gender proposals, for example with regard to trafficking, harmful practices and sexual and reproductive health and rights, and we would encourage additional work to include the full breadth of SDG 5.

The issues on which we deliberate in this Assembly impact people all around the world. We should ensure our discussions are inclusive and that interested parties, including civil society, are offered the opportunity to contribute to UN processes. This is particularly appropriate to young people, who are the long-term stakeholders in our endeavours, and their voices deserve to be heard.

To this end, Australia supports the report’s focus on bolstering youth participation, including the proposal for the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth to undertake a review of youth engagement in UN deliberative and decision-making processes. Thank you again for the opportunity to contribute to this discussion. We look forward to engaging further throughout this process, including during tomorrow’s interactive panel discussions.