Welcome to the United Nations

Addressing systemic issues

The 2008 world finance and economic crisis underscored how systemic risks can undermine progress towards poverty alleviation and development. Today, risks in the global economy highlighted earlier in this report underscore the seriousness of the systemic challenges facing the international community in its efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. As repeatedly demonstrated by the transmission of financial crises, events in one country can have effects across borders, impacting jobs, employment and growth. There are cross-border spillovers from social and environmental systems as well. For example, instability, crime, poverty and inequality have the potential to provoke extremism or drive irregular migration, both of which have cross-border implications.

International cooperation is essential to addressing these risks. Indeed, such cooperation can boost the economic, social and environmental performance of all countries. For example, the actions of the Group of Twenty (G20) in the wake of the 2008 world financial and economic crisis helped contain the crisis, and global financial regulatory standards have helped improve the financial safety of all countries. Similarly, cooperative efforts towards social development produce results in the near term and prevent costlier problems and instability in the future, while efforts to improve environmental sustainability are often only effective with joint actions across borders.

While important steps have been taken to reduce vulnerabilities in the international system and to increase the voice of developing countries, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda states that more needs to be done. Continuing these efforts, while further aligning international institutions, most of which were not designed with sustainable development as a goal, to support the agenda are at the heart of this chapter on addressing systemic issues.