Dubai: Expo 2020 is proof that sustainable development goals can be achieved, says UN official

Bill Gates, Richard Curtis to attend Global Goals Week at world fair from January 15 to 22

By Anjana Sankar

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Published: Mon 10 Jan 2022, 6:14 PM

Last updated: Mon 10 Jan 2022, 6:15 PM

The rise of the Expo 2020's sprawling site from a desert land to a "thriving location" where over 250 nationalities and people from different backgrounds are converging is proof that collective action can make a difference to the world, Maher Nasser, commissioner-general of UN at Expo, said here on Monday.

"I'm sure we can do it," said Nasser explaining why the United Nations General Assembly has for the first time in history has decided to move the Global Goals Week out of New York and come to Expo 2020 Dubai next week.

"Expo is currently the world premiere event taking place in the middle of the pandemic with 10 million people already having come here… and world leaders are coming here. We thought that it is probably most appropriate for the first time the Global Goals week to be held outside of New York is to be held at Expo where 192 countries of the world have pavilions here and world leaders are coming."


The event will be held from January 15 to 22 at the UN Hub at Opportunity Pavilion at Expo and will bring together some of the top world leaders.

The Global Goals Week is the seventh of the 10 themed weeks planned by Expo as part of its 'People and Planet' programme.

Echoing optimism, Nasser said the world nations can come together to accelerate action toward achieving the crucial 17 Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 in the 'second decade of action.'

Nasser said before Covid started, the world was not on track to meet the SDGs, and the arrival of the pandemic further derailed the SDGs. "We were not on track to achieve gender equality; we were not on track to eradicate poverty and hunger or any of the other SDGs."

"Now for the first time since 1990, the number of people living in extreme poverty increased increase by over 100 million people. Hunger increased, and we have seen a rising and troubling rising in inequality - inequality on social and economic indicators. So, that is why now pushing with the Global Goals Week in New York and here, it's a reminder to urge further action by governments at different levels, by individuals, by businesses, by leadership of all sectors, so that we really try to come back on track… because we want to be in a world where everybody thrives in peace, dignity, and on a healthy planet."

He said it is an ideal time to revitalize the SDGs as governments across the world are working towards "better economic stimulus, revamping the health care and social systems and this can be aligned with the SDGs."

"So, there's a lot to do. We know that we when we put our mind to it as humans, we can do it," said the UN official.

Elaborating on the highlights of the week, Sconaid McGeachin, senior vice-president, Communications at Expo, said figures and thought leaders like

Bill Gates, Richard Curtis, Reem Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director-General, Expo 2020 Dubai, Mohammed Al Najjar, Minister of Water and Irrigation from Jordan, will participate at the event.

Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General, United Nations, Sanda Ojiambo, COO and Executive Director, UN Global Compact; and Jerome Foster II, White House Advisor will mark the event virtually.

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