New York says first city to show how faring on goals to end social woes

UNITED NATIONS (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - New York on Wednesday became the first city to unveil how it is faring on global goals to end poverty, inequality and other woes by 2030, officials said, highlighting the importance for cities to promote social and economic innovation.

Nearly 200 countries signed on to the goals at the United Nations three years ago, but much of the actual progress takes place at local levels such as New York, city officials said.

The set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), unanimously approved by the 193 U.N. member nations in 2015, is a wide-ranging “to-do” list tackling such issues as conflict, hunger, land degradation, gender equality and climate change.

Nearly four dozen countries are submitting voluntary reports on their progress at a high-level U.N. meeting this week, but New York City is the first city to do so, officials said.

“Cities and local communities play a crucial role in ensuring that we achieve the sustainable and equitable future envisioned by the Global Goals,” said Penny Abeywardena, New York’s commissioner for international affairs, in a statement.

At U.N. headquarters, Maimunah Mohd Sharif, U.N. Under-Secretary-General and executive director of UN-Habitat, said she hoped New York’s move would induce other cities to follow suit.

“We look at cities as the engine of growth. Cities are also the center for innovation and creativity,” she said at a news briefing.

“This is a very, very good move,” she said. “I would like to call on the mayors in all cities in the world ... to monitor and evaluate the implementation and what impact that they have achieved at a local level.”

Overall, progress in achieving the global goals is being hampered by climate change and conflict which are forcing people to go hungry, flee their homes and lose critical access to water, U.N. officials said in an assessment last month.

New York City’s report claims progress in cleaner air and water, job and wage growth and early childhood education, officials said.

“New York City is on track to become one of the more equitable, healthier and safer cities in the world due to our latest achievements in sustainability and our increased commitment to fight for social and economic progress,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio in a statement.