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Global Lag in Achieving Sustainable Development Goals 


The world is substantially behind in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) established by the United Nations in 2015, according to a recent UN report. These goals, which address a range of areas such as poverty reduction, hunger eradication, and environmental conservation, were set to be accomplished by 2030. However, the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) report shows that none of the 17 goals are currently on track to be achieved by the target date.


GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key Findings of the Report
  2. Call for Reform and Financial Strategies
  3. Multilateralism and Country Rankings
  4. Challenges in Food and Land Systems
  5. UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN)

Key Findings of the Report

Stagnant Progress and Uneven Distribution:

  • Only 16% of SDG targets are progressing adequately, with the rest either stagnant or regressing.
  • Particularly concerning are the goals related to zero hunger (SDG 2), sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11), life below water (SDG 14), life on land (SDG 15), and peace, justice, and strong institutions (SDG 16).
  • Issues like rising obesity rates, declining press freedom, and biodiversity loss were highlighted. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing challenges, notably impacting life expectancy (SDG 3).

Geographical Disparities:

  • Nordic countries lead in SDG achievement, while BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) show some progress.
  • Least developed nations are falling further behind, widening the gap since 2015.
  • BRICS+ nations (Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, UAE) have shown average SDG progress exceeding the global average.

Call for Reform and Financial Strategies

Need for Financial Architecture Reform:

  • The report emphasizes the necessity of significant investment in public goods that cross national boundaries.
  • Low and middle-income countries urgently need access to affordable long-term capital to invest in critical areas like education (SDG 4).

Proposed Financial Strategies:

  • SDSN suggested five strategies to address financing gaps, including new institutions, innovative global taxation schemes, and prioritizing investments in quality education.

Multilateralism and Country Rankings

Multilateralism Index:

  • A new index evaluating countries’ support for UN-based multilateralism was introduced.
  • It assessed treaty ratifications, UN General Assembly votes, UN organization memberships, involvement in conflicts and militarization, use of unilateral sanctions, and financial contributions to the UN.
  • A correlation was found between a country’s commitment to global cooperation and its SDG progress.

Country Rankings:

  • Barbados leads the index, with the United States ranking last, indicating a significant disconnect from international cooperation.
  • Following Barbados in the top ranks are Antigua and Barbuda, Uruguay, Mauritius, and the Maldives.
  • The lowest-ranked countries include Somalia, South Sudan, Israel, and the Democratic Republic of Korea.

Challenges in Food and Land Systems

Critical Issues:

  • The report also addressed challenges in food and land systems (SDG 2). With 600 million people projected to be hungry by 2030, rising obesity, and unsustainable agricultural practices, a new approach is necessary.
  • Current trends are widening the gap between climate, biodiversity, and water quality targets.

FABLE Pathways:

  • To achieve significant progress, the report recommends major changes through FABLE pathways:
    1. Reducing overconsumption and limiting animal-based protein while respecting cultural preferences.
    2. Investing in increased productivity, especially in high-demand areas.
    3. Creating inclusive and transparent monitoring systems to halt deforestation.

Urgent Recommendations:

  • World leaders are urged to embrace comprehensive UN reform, address financing shortfalls, strengthen global cooperation, and implement innovative solutions like the FABLE pathways to secure the future of sustainable development.

UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN)

  • Establishment and Purpose:
    • The UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) was founded in 2012 by the United Nations.
    • Its primary objective is to advance practical solutions to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at both national and international levels.
  • Key Focus Areas:
    • Mobilising Expertise: SDSN focuses on harnessing expertise by linking universities, research institutions, and national laboratories.
    • Developing Solutions: It identifies and develops innovative solutions to address critical sustainability challenges.
  • Secretariat Locations:
    • The SDSN has its secretariats located in three global cities:
      • Paris, France
      • Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
      • New York, United States

-Source: Down To Earth

July 2024