Viewpoint: Get the Sustainable Development Goals Back on Track
In 2015, world leaders met in New York at a landmark conference of the United Nations. Their aim: to end poverty, stop environmental destruction and boost well-being. In the world of multilateral diplomacy, such meetings are not uncommon, but they tend to focus on individual areas, such as climate change or food security. The 2015 summit was different because heads of state and governments pledged concrete action across an integrated set of economic, environmental and social issues. They signed up to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a package of 17 goals and associated targets for ending hunger, eliminating extreme poverty, reducing inequality, tackling climate change and halting the loss of biodiversity and ecosystems — all by 2030.
With that deadline now a decade away, the world is set to miss most of the SDGs. Just two of them — eliminating preventable deaths among newborns and under-fives, and getting children into primary schools — are closest among all the goals to being achieved. By contrast, the goal to eliminate extreme poverty will not be met because some 430 million people are expected still to be living in such conditions in 2030.
Targets to end hunger and to protect climate and biodiversity are completely off track. Whereas some of the richer countries are making a degree of progress in the SDGs overall, two-thirds of poorer ones are not expected to meet those that relate even to their most basic needs.