NEW YORK – The UAE presented its first ever Voluntary National Review (VNR) at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, providing a review of the country’s progress in implementing the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The presentation was delivered during the UN’s High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, the global gathering of decision-makers that has been set up to review both global level progress in achieving the SDGs, as well as a platform for all countries to report periodically on national-level progress in implementation.

The presentation demonstrated the UAE’s commitment to sustainable development, which lies at the heart of the country’s vision for its future. The review provided an overview of the activities and efforts by the National Committee on SDGs since its establishment in early 2017 in aligning and integrating the SDGs with the UAE’s national development agenda. “The pace with which the UAE has adopted and commenced implementation of the SDG framework is a testament to the level of the country’s ambition to pursue a trajectory of sustainable development” expressed H.E. Abdullah Lootah, Vice-Chair of the UAE’s National Committee on SDGs and Director General of the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority, who delivered the presentation at the UN.

Domestically, the principles that underpin the UAE’s national development are encapsulated in Vision 2021 as well as Vision 2071. H.E. Lootah noted: “For the UAE, making it over the milestones that the SDGs prescribe by the year 2030 is only the start. The SDGs are part of a continuum of outcomes that the UAE aims to achieve in the coming years.”

The report also highlighted the UAE’s contributions to supporting the achievement of the SDGs globally through its generous foreign aid. In 2017, the UAE was recognized by the OECD as the world’s largest per capita donor – contributing 1.31% of its gross national income as Official Development Assistance. The UAE has reoriented its foreign aid program to align with the SDGs, focusing it on development and technical assistance to locate geographic areas and thematic issues where aid and assistance is most needed. “To achieve the SDGs, we must collaborate to give hope for a better future to countries and communities where pain, suffering and anguish prevails,” H.E. Lootah emphasized.

The presentation also provided a brief overview of the UAE’s flagship events on global issues that serve to support global SDG implementation by promoting innovative solutions to global challenges. The World Government Summit, and in particular the recently launched ‘The Global Councils on SDGs’ initiative was highlighted in this respect.

H.E. Lootah concluded, “Meaningful change is never straightforward but we in the UAE are confident that we have both the mindset and systems in place to make a real difference towards the SDGs. We owe it to ourselves and to our future generations to dream big and deliver accordingly.”