Covid-19 has delayed the United Nations – they are now behind in meeting certain sustainable development goals and vaccination targets. As the head of the United Nations Development Program, Achim Steiner is at the forefront of catching up with these goals. He tells POLITICO’s Ryan Heath why, even if countries fail to meet their COVAX and climate commitments, the United Nations is still the best bet in the world – and perhaps the only one – to tackle global problems. .
On how he handles his relationship with China
“When you invite us to work with you, you invite us as the United Nations Development Program with all the values and norms that go with it. But our role is to dialogue with the country and to be at its side, to assist it, to move forward. And that means not starting the work by having a set of conditionalities, but rather agreeing on what our priorities [are] and how we can work with each other as partners. Achim Steiner, Administrator of the United Nations Development Program
Why he thinks the Sustainable Development Goals are still relevant, even if countries are not making progress towards them
“Now having a pandemic hitting us right now is obviously a major setback for the targets and indicators for the quantitative aspects of the Sustainable Development Goals. But, this is a temporary setback and I would strongly oppose those who say, “Well, maybe we need to find another framework in which to work together”. It is the only program to which 193 countries have subscribed. It is a shared vision of our challenges, but also of the paths to the future… Abandoning the SDGs now is not only a big mistake in view of their relevance. In fact, they are the only strategy we have that allows us to move forward together to build better. ”