H.E. Ambassador Dr. Carlos Garcia, Secretary General of United Nations Association of El Salvador, Former Ambassador of El Salvador to the UN | El Salvador

Prior to his current post, Ambassador Garcia was the Permanent Representative of El Salvador to the United Nations and served at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as Director of Multilateral Affairs, and Chief of the Caribbean Affairs. Before being appointed to the Permanent Mission of El Salvador to the United Nations on July 1, 1996, Ambassador Garcia served at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of El Salvador, San Salvador as Director of Multilateral Affairs, and Chief of the Caribbean Affairs. As of June 2019, he has been appointed as President & CEO of The Organization for Poverty Alleviation and Development (OPAD) at the United Nations, United States of America, Asia, and Latin America & the Caribbean. In August 2019, Ambassador Garcia was selected to be 2019 Grand Marshall of the Salvadoran Parade in New Jersey that was held on September 15, 2019 in New Jersey.


Event Title: SDGs Conference 2023 Date: Sept 20, 2023


The main topic that I would like to address is how to build new momentum towards the 2030 deadline for the SDGs. At the beginning or the outset, allow me to acknowledge the long-term impact of COVID-19 in social, economic, and political areas that poses important challenges for many countries around the world and contributes negatively to the deterioration of several indicators in healthcare systems or healthcare programs, particularly in developing countries. You may know or you may be asking what this is connected to the SDGs. This negative impact goes directly and negatively to SDG 3, which is good health and well-being.

Therefore, the negative impact of this pandemic continues to pose important challenges for many countries around the world. Therefore, you may find one clue to understanding the lack of commitment in that area but more than that, there is no doubt that this negative impact of COVID-19 has also impacted other diseases such as malaria, including increased epidemic risk and challenges for epidemic control. This is one important fact that we need to consider when we address this issue but more than that, new challenges are arising from unexpected factors that have been consolidated in the last five years, in my view, namely a global trend of contraction of globalization as a phenomenon in the emerging forces around regionalism. This is creating a real impact from a geopolitical strategy and point of view that needs to be considered as part of the new challenges in the implementation of SDGs. 

You may be asking why the geopolitical situation has an impact on the SDGs. It is clear and fully connected with SDG 17 dealing with the global partnership that goes beyond only public-private partnership but also in the inter-state or intergovernmental relationship that of course has created new challenges and issues that need to be considered when we address the issue of this disease. The reality on the ground shows us that the international community is moving back to strong regionalism under the leadership of three main pillars or three main legs, namely the United States of America, Russia, and China. Therefore, or consequently, a significant number of setbacks can be explained by a change in the priorities of national or international interests in countries like Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asian countries. 

This is a very important topic that I will invite you to consider, since, moving back from a global or a globalism phenomenon, I am going back to a regionalism that implies not only a change in the mind of political leaders and countries but also affects national priorities. Even though we are moving back to regionalism, there will be an opportunity for the SDG Agenda to be on track for full implementation by 2030 but needs to be fully aligned with national priorities. Otherwise, it is going to be a waste of our time from a global perspective. The President of El Salvador, His Excellency, Mr. Nayib Bukele, presented the successful case of El Salvador with strengthening institutions and political commitment for the timely achievement of the SDGs.

Once El Salvador was at the top of the countries that were considered the most dangerous for high levels of criminality and also of course for assassination, murders, extortions, and several other crimes in the context of four years after a change in the paradigm of understanding a very fundamental topic within the United Nations. El Salvador currently has become the safest country in the whole American continent. Now, how can you explain this change coming from being the most dangerous country in the hemisphere to the safest one? This of course is fully connected to the SDG as well, SDG 16 focusing on justice and peace because it is fully connected with our national interest and priorities. That is the reason why El Salvador covering this particular aspect of their national interest simultaneously can connect with SDG 16 and at large with the SDGs as a whole.

What we are proposing for consideration as a new factor to be included in the measure that can be taken by different other governments to create this momentum towards 2030, will be to create a harmonic combination of national interests together with the SDGs. If a country is not able to connect the SDGs with its national interest, it will be a waste of time and a waste of money. 

It has to be fully connected with the national industry and of course, every country has its particularities. We cannot expect countries to just simply commit to the 17 Goals. If we see the 10 commandments, it needs to be seen as a roadmap and if we see the SDGs as a roadmap, then we have a chance to expand and to flow with the national interest. Therefore be in a better position for not only implementing but also fulfilling other areas of interest such as financing for development but also on the political participation of national institutions, civil society, and the private sector. In the end, nobody is going to invest in any country that is still suffering from criminality in the case of El Salvador. However, also, if your country is in a different position and different level, nobody is going to make their best contribution if they feel they are just simply following an agenda that has been created outside their interests.

This is a key point that needs to be considered. Finally, aligning national objectives with the SDGs and the role of financing for development takes me back to the idea that I mentioned in terms of how the geopolitical approach creates an interface or creates an impact on the implementation of SDGs. All issues of financing are connected to how a country perceives its areas of interest. Can we create a common agenda for all of us, perhaps, but not in my view, in the way in which the SDGs were negotiated? 

It was a different political context and we can see this unfortunately in a similar case, when the UN addressed many years ago how to change or revitalize the United Nations, in particular the Security Council, we know that it has been an impossible task. Now, the problem will be who is going to be allowed to form a new United Nations Organization. However, as a part of an important understanding and how the UN can contribute to the development of a common agenda needs to be again in full connection with the national interests.

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