The SDGs are used worldwide by many stakeholders in order to evaluate the performance of development policies.
In 2015, a set of 17 global goals called the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted via the Agenda 2030 of United Nations.
Comprising of 169 targets, these 17 SDGs are nothing but a collection of 17 interlinked objectives designed to serve as a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity of people and the planet - in the present and the future.
Since the adoption of SDGs in 2015, 3100+ events have been organised, 1300+ publications have been authored, and 5500+ actions have been initiated for the realisation of 17 global goals.
SDGs most recent developments
During the 2019 SDG Summit, it was highlighted that progress is being made in many places, but, overall, action to meet the Goals in 2030 is not yet advancing at the speed or scale required.
It needs now the mobilisation of everyone, everywhere, grounded on a level of ambition and a sense of urgency that supercharges ideas into concrete, bold and implementable solutions.
Therefore, the UN Secretary-General called upon all sections of society to mobilise for a “Decade of action” at three levels:
Global action to secure greater leadership, more resources and smarter solutions for the Sustainable Development Goals
Local action embedding the needed transitions in the policies, budgets, institutions and regulatory frameworks of governments, cities and local authorities
People action, including youth, civil society, the media, the private sector, unions, academia and other stakeholders, to generate an unstoppable movement pushing for the required transformations
It led the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) to set up an online platform to inspire and mobilise new and ambitious SDG Acceleration Actions and track their progress: The SDG Acceleration Actions online database.
Today, it is a relevant tool to build resilience and bring an inclusive recovery in the context of new realities post COVID-19, so that the global economy, planet and people we serve could emerge stronger together from the crisis.
According to the 2021 edition of Reporting Matters, published every year by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), 90% of the 168 leading global companies and members of WBCSD acknowledged the SDGs in some way in their Corporate sustainability reporting.
35% of them prioritise 5 to 8 SDGs, and 10% reference 12 or more SDG goals.
The most commonly referenced Goals are SDG 14: Climate Action (85%), SDG 12: Sustainable Cities and Communities (73%) and SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth (67%).
SDG 1: No Poverty (23%), SDG 15: Life Under Water (23%) and SDG 2: Zero Hunger (30%) are the least likely to be prioritised.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 has halted or reversed years of progress on poverty, health, and education.
COVID-19 has led to the first rise in extreme poverty in a generation. An additional 119 to 124 million people were pushed back into extreme poverty in 2020.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that what began as a health crisis has quickly become a human and socio-economic crisis.
It makes the achievement of the global goals more urgent and necessary. It is essential that recent gains are protected as much as possible.
A transformative recovery from COVID- 19 should be pursued, one that addresses this crisis, reduces risks from future potential crises and relaunches the implementation efforts to deliver the 2030 Agenda and SDGs during the Decade of Action.
On a positive note, the progress should be highlighted. A few of the points of progress for each SDG are as follows:
Goal 1: No poverty
As of April 2021, 118 countries reported national and local disaster risk reduction strategies, up from 45 in 2015.
Goal 2: Zero hunger
The proportion of children under age 5 who are affected by stunting was 33% worldwide in 2000 and is 22% in 2020.
Goal 3: Good health and well-being
Support for mental health is being recognised by the vast majority of countries in their COVID-19 response plans.
The global suicide death rate declined by 36% between 2000 and 2019, from 14 to 9 deaths per 100,000 people.
Goal 4: Quality education
Children's participation in organised pre-primary learning increased from 65% in 2010 to 73% in 2019.
Goal 13: Climate action
Total climate finance increased to $48.7 billion in 2017-2018.
Goal 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions
The annual number of civilian deaths globally actually decreased by 61% between 2015 and 2020.
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