The UN has set the level of ambition with its 17 new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and as the new President of the General Assembly, it is Mogens Lykketoft’s task to make these goals a reality. The SDGs are very ambitious at heart, but as Mogens Lykketoft says: “If you are not ambitious, nothing will happen”.
Every physicist hopes to be the one who cracks the code and finds the theory of everything- the final theory that can explain how the world works. Einstein set this ambition, which no one has been able to meet, but which everyone dreams of fulfilling.
Mogens Lykketoft is hoping to become the politician who can do something just as spectacular: to be the one who finds the solution to everything. To poverty, hunger, inequality, gender inequality, drought, thirst, hazardous production, overconsumption, dangerous climate change, and global injustice. The UN has set the level of ambition with its 17 new Sustainable Development Goals, and as the new President of the General Assembly, it is Lykketoft’s task to make these goals a reality.
Einstein never succeeded, and Lykketoft does not expect all of these problems to be solved by 2030, as the UN is aiming for. However, according to the new UNGA president, one must not set goals according to what is feasible. One has to set them according to what one wishes for. Lykketoft’s task is not a pragmatic one, but rather deeply idealistic.
“One has to set the goals so ambitiously that you cannot be certain of reaching all of them. If you are not ambitious, nothing will happen”.
Progress or chaos
The road to – perhaps even moderate – success will require decisive commitment.
“If we want to succeed, we have to invest not just billions, but trillions of dollars in sustainable infrastructure, traffic systems, recycling systems, buildings, and restructuring our energy systems,” Lykketoft says.
“The world’s nation states have to finance a large part of the pie, and much of that money will be going to private corporations. They are the ones who have to deliver. It is private corporations, pension funds, and foundations, who must deliver the largest sums of money, and they are also the ones who will be making money off of the green transition.”
For Lykketoft, the necessity of making that investment is obvious.
“Progressive business people know that if we do not do something now, there will be nothing to make money from in the future. Then we’ll only have chaos,” the UNGA president says.
This article is an edited and translated version of the article “Løsningen på alting” originally published in Mandag Morgen no 31. 2015.