Tracking SDGs: For the second year in row, world is no longer making progress on SDGs

The world has been halted in the past two years on the SDGs.

Photo: UN


June 3, 2022






June 3, 2022





The realization of global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is stagnating. Crises in health, climate, biodiversity, and geopolitical turmoil pose major challenges for sustainable development at the global level, according to the report for this year’s progress on the United Nations SDGs for 2030.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all member states of the United Nations in 2015, is a common roadmap for peace and prosperity for people and the planet. At the heart of the agenda are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), an urgent call for action by all countries in the world in a global partnership, both developed and developing, according to the UN.

Military conflicts and war in Ukraine have a major international impact on food security and energy prices and bring enormous costs for humanitarian actions. The climate and economic crises affecting biodiversity are crowding out space for long-term planning and investment.

Peace, diplomacy, and international cooperation are the basic conditions for the world to make progress toward achieving the 2030 SDGs

Peace, diplomacy, and international cooperation are the basic conditions for the world to progress towards SDGs by 2030 and beyond, according to a report prepared by a group of independent experts from the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN).

“The bedrock SDG principles of social inclusion, clean energy, responsible consumption, and universal access to public services are needed more than ever to respond to the major challenges of our time,” said Jeffrey Sachs, SDSN’s president and the first author of the document.

Science, technology, innovation, and systems for data collection and management can be decisive in addressing the main challenges of our time, as well as being a great help in identifying solutions in times of crisis, the authors noted.

A global plan for financing sustainable development is urgently needed

SDGs are essentially a roadmap for investment in physical infrastructure, including renewable energy and digital technologies, as well as in education and human capital, including health and education, the document notes.

However, the authors remarked that the poorest half of the world lacks access to the capital market under acceptable terms.

Increasing budgetary pressures and military spending and major changes in strategic priorities, especially in European countries, could reduce the funds available to support sustainable development at the global level.

Increasing military spending and major changes in strategic priorities could reduce the funds available to support sustainable development at the global level

In the same context, the report highlights the key role of the Group of 20 most developed and fastest-developing economies, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and multilateral development banks (MDBs) in supporting both comprehensive and global SDG funding and delivery.

On the road to 2030

The SDG index is an assessment of each country’s overall performance in meeting 17 global targets. It gives equal weight to every goal.

The global average of the SDG index decreased slightly for the second consecutive year, largely due to the impact of the pandemic on the path to the goal to eradicate poverty (SDG 1) and the one related to decent work and economic growth (SDG 8), as well as due to insufficient progress in the goals of climate, biodiversity and sustainable urban development (SDGs 11-15).

Sustainable Development Goals trend by region and by income

SDG integration into policy, regulations, budgets, monitoring systems, and other government policies and procedures continues to vary widely across countries.

Finland is at the top of the SDG index for this year, followed by three other Nordic countries: Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. The top 25 places are held by Europe, except Japan, which is in 19th position.

Finland’s overall index score is 85.9, which is the percentage of achieving the best possible outcome under all 17 targets.

According to the results for 2022, Slovenia is 15th with 80 index points, Croatia ranks 23rd and Serbia is 35th. North Macedonia took the 57th place, followed by BiH at 59th, while Montenegro is 86th, the lowest-ranked European country, with the SDG index at 68.2 points.

As for the rest of Southeast Europe, Romania ranks 30th and Greece is 32nd. Bulgaria is in the 42nd position. Cyprus (43), Albania (61), and Turkey (71) are at the rear.

African countries Chad, the Central African Republic, and South Sudan rank the worst in the world, with around 40 index points. However, they have seen progress toward the climate action goal.

Support and political efforts

Within the G20, the United States, Brazil, and Russia show the least support for the 2030 Agenda and the achievement of the SDGs. In contrast, relatively high support for meeting the goals is shown by Argentina, Germany, Japan, and Mexico.

The United States, Brazil, and Russia show the least support in the G20 for the 2030 Agenda and the achievement of the SDGs

The East and South Asia region has made the most progress on SDGs since their adoption in 2015, especially Bangladesh and Cambodia. The authors note that Benin and Mexico have issued SDG sovereign bonds in recent years to increase investments in sustainable development.

Benin and Mexico issued SDG sovereign bonds to boost investment in sustainable development

Some countries such as Nigeria have large gaps in their SDG index but have received relatively high scores for political efforts. Ambitious and fundamental national goals, strategies, and plans are key to turning the SDGs into an action plan, the authors stressed.

Wealthy countries have a special responsibility when it comes to adapting and mitigating climate change and preserving global commons.

Rich countries have not fulfilled their commitment to mobilize $100 billion annually by 2020 to mitigate further temperature rises and help poorer countries adapt to climate change

Last year, only five member countries of the Development Assistance Committee within the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reached the level of spending 0.7 percent of gross national income on official development assistance. That’s Denmark, Germany, Luxembourg, Norway, and Sweden.

Remarks from the report

The report adds rich countries generate negative international spillovers, especially through unsustainable consumption. According to the Spillover Index for 2022, the factor has a negative impact on the socio-economic and environmental plans around the world, which highlights the existence of an unsustainable trading system and supply chain.

According to the study, the European Union has managed to separate economic growth and domestic CO₂ emissions in the last few years, but there are no signs of a structural decline in import CO₂ emissions, i.e. CO₂ emissions that were created abroad to meet EU consumption.

The demand for food in the 27-nation bloc contributes to emissions of polluting PM-type fine particles outside its borders with 16%.

Consumption of goods and services in the European Union is responsible for 16% of tropical deforestation in the world, WWF noted.

Seventh SDG – clean energy

SDG 7 concerns clean energy. The idea is that everyone gets an affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy supply. According to 2017 data, 789 million people lack electricity.

According to data from 2017, 789 million people lack electricity

A well-established energy system supports all other activities – from businesses, medicine, and education to agriculture, infrastructure, communications, and high technology, according to the UN.

Croatia and Albania are making progress in line with the 2030 targets for SDG 7, the report showed.

Slovenia, BiH, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Greece, Cyprus, and Turkey are making “moderate progress” but not enough to reach SDG 7, while North Macedonia, Romania, and Serbia stagnated in 2022 with regard to sustainable energy development.

Free course on sustainable development

The SDGs are based on decades of work and seek to end global poverty, through strategies to improve health and education, reduce inequalities, and foster economic growth. The efforts must be aligned with the fight against climate change and biodiversity conservation work.

The SDGs are based on decades of work and seek to end global poverty

To make the 2030 Agenda a reality, the broad domain of SDGs must translate into a strong commitment by all stakeholders to implementing global goals, the UN said.

The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) brings together and mobilizes scientific and technical expertise from academia, civil society, and the private sector to support the practical resolution of sustainable development problems at the local, national and global levels. It has been operating since 2012 under the auspices of the UN secretary-general.

Chairman of SDSN Jeffrey Sachs leads a course called The Age of Sustainable Development, which has 14 modules. It is free of charge and available on the Coursera learning platform.

The course is organized in cooperation with Columbia University in New York and gives students an understanding of key challenges and paths towards socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable economic development, the invitation said.

A new seminar on sustainable development began on the day the report was published

The new seminar began on the day the UN report on the progress of the global sustainable development agenda was published.

Comments (1)
Yeko Edmond YK / June 6, 2022

Environmental conservation awareness is so urgent. Most of the SDGs can actually be achieved by first having a good condition for living.

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