India's ambitious programmes such as 'Clean India' and 'Educate the Girl Child, Save the Girl Child' are "emblematic" of the types of actions needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has said.
Guterres, who begins a three-day visit to India Monday, said that while India still faces challenges, the country has a long history of innovation and leadership in developing programmes to further social welfare and tackle inequalities.
"National initiatives such as those being launched in India are emblematic of the types of actions needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), contributing to a common objective of more inclusive development," Guterres told PTI ahead of his first trip to India as the UN chief.
The SDGs, otherwise known as the Global Goals, are a universal call by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for action to end poverty, protect the planet, improve health, education and ensuring that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030.
"The initiatives hold promise for expanding the availability of adequate sanitation, empowering women and girls, increasing access to quality education, and reducing inequality by shrinking the digital divide," Guterres said.
He said the various programmes launched in India have already achieved impressive results.
"I was very impressed to learn that, in the first 2.5 years of implementation, the Clean India campaign supported the construction of over 39 million household toilets working toward an open defecation free India by 2019," he said.
On the Narendra Modi government's flagship Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao (Educate the Girl Child, Save the Girl Child) programme, Guterres said the campaign has helped to substantially decrease school dropout rates among girls enhancing gender equality in education.
With the focus on digitisation, the UN chief said access to digital documents in India has never been higher with over 1.7 billion digitised which can make the distribution of services like food ration cards much easier.
"This is moving India forward towards its national aim of overcoming the digital divide and transforming service delivery," he said.
Guterres expressed confidence that the current momentum in India to usher in greater opportunity and equity for all will continue and serve as a positive example of what can be achieved in the spirit of leaving no one behind.
"The 2030 Agenda, with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), is a bold and ambitious roadmap for change agreed by world leaders.
What makes the Agenda truly transformative is its recognition that many of humanity's greatest challenges whether poverty, climate change, conflict or inequality are interconnected and therefore require integrated solutions that respond to this complexity," he said in the email interview.