On Monday, July 10, 2023, at 12:30 p.m. EDT in New York, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs released the “Sustainable Development Goals 2023: Special Edition | Towards a Rescue Plan for People and the Planet” report, sounding an alarm and providing an overview of the world’s inadequate progress towards achieving the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which calls for a rescue plan.

According to the report, if global efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) —the promise of a better world for all— are not doubled, it could worsen political instability, destabilize economies, and cause irreparable damage to the environment.

The promise of the SDGs

World leaders made a historic promise to ensure the rights and well-being of all people on a healthy and prosperous planet when they agreed on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 SDGs in 2015. However, the combined effects of the climate crisis, the war in Ukraine, pessimistic global economic prospects, and the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have revealed systemic deficiencies and significantly hindered progress towards the goals.

With seven years left until the deadline for achieving the goals, much is at stake. Based on the latest available data and estimates, the report paints a discouraging picture of the SDGs, on the eve of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (July 10-19), where countries will present the concrete measures they are taking to achieve the SDGs. The Forum takes place ahead of the SDG Summit (September 18-19), a pivotal moment for world leaders to urgently steer the course and give new impetus to the SDGs.

The SDGs are in jeopardy

Of the approximately 140 targets set to meet the goals, half are off track or significantly off track. Furthermore, over 30% of these targets have made no progress or, worse, regressed compared to the 2015 baseline.

According to the report, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have halted three decades of steady progress in reducing extreme poverty, and the number of people living in extreme poverty has increased for the first time in a generation.

If current trends persist, by 2030, an alarming 575 million people will remain trapped in extreme poverty, and an estimated 84 million children and youth will still be out of school. According to data collected in 2022 from 119 countries, 56% of countries lacked laws prohibiting direct and indirect discrimination against women. Global warming has already reached 1.1°C above pre-industrial levels and is likely to reach or exceed the critical threshold of 1.5°C by 2035.

The report also warns that while stagnation in progress is widespread, it is the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world who are experiencing the worst effects of these unprecedented global challenges.

Progress is possible

However, advancements in some areas since 2015 demonstrate the potential for further progress. The proportion of the global population with access to electricity has increased from 87% in 2015 to 91% in 2021, with nearly 800 million people gaining access to electricity.

The report also reveals that by 2021, 133 countries had already achieved the SDG target for under-5 mortality rate, and it is expected that another 13 countries will do so by 2030. Despite the slowdown in global manufacturing growth, medium-high and high-tech industries have shown robust growth rates. Developing countries installed a record per capita renewable energy generation capacity of 268 watts in 2021. Additionally, the number of people using the internet has increased by 65% since 2015, reaching 5.3 billion people worldwide in 2022.

These significant development advances demonstrate that it is possible to move towards a better future for all through collective action, strong political will, and effective use of available technologies, resources, and knowledge. With these advances, hundreds of millions of people can be lifted out of poverty, gender equality can be improved, and the world can be put on a low-emissions pathway by 2030. Strengthening data ecosystems will also be crucial in understanding the world’s current situation and what needs to be done to achieve the SDGs.

Other key facts and figures:

  • Based on historical trends, only one-third of countries are projected to halve their national poverty rates by 2030 compared to 2015.
  • Nearly one in three people (2.3 billion) experienced moderate or severe food insecurity in 2021.
  • Between 2015 and 2022, increased access to safely managed drinking water, safely managed sanitation, and basic hygiene led to an additional 687 million, 911 million, and 637 million people gaining access to these essential services, respectively.
  • Effective HIV treatment has significantly reduced AIDS-related deaths worldwide by 52% since 2010, and at least one neglected tropical disease has been eliminated in 47 countries.
  • In 2020, nearly 1.1 billion people lived in slums or similar conditions in urban areas.
  • The number of countries with national and local strategies for disaster risk reduction has doubled since 2015, indicating increased awareness and preparedness to manage and reduce the impact of disasters.

Access the full report here: https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/report/2023/The-Sustainable-Development-Goals-Report-2023.pdf

Source: UN News