The global community made a collective decision over eight years ago to take bold and revolutionary steps towards realising the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a roadmap to protect everyone’s rights and well-being on a flourishing and healthy planet. However, at the midway point of the year 2030, that commitment is in jeopardy, and a fundamental shift in commitment, solidarity, funding, and action is urgently needed to guide the world towards a better route. And this change is urgently required.
Promises at risk
The recently published ‘Report of the Secretary-General on Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals’ employs the latest data to raise the alarm for action. Out of approximately 140 targets with available data, only around 12% are on track to be accomplished by 2030; nearly half, although showing progress, are moderately or significantly off track; and approximately 30% have either shown no progress or regressed below the baseline set in 2015.
Abandoning the SDGs or extending the deadline to achieve them is not a viable option. The world has been shaken by a series of interconnected crises – the COVID-19 pandemic, conflicts, the climate crisis, and a feeble global economy. Reaffirming commitment to the 2030 Agenda provides the most effective roadmap out of these crises, but time is rapidly running out to correct our course.
Trust in public institutions had been eroding for decades, even before the events of the last three years. Many people are now in precarious situations as a result of changes in the workplace, globalisation, and technological improvements, which inspire hope but also arouse worries.
Over the next seven years, we have a limited window of opportunity to step up our efforts to alleviate hunger and poverty as well as to advance gender equality and confront the triple planetary crisis. If we ignore this warning, political unrest and displacement will worsen, public trust in institutions will further decline, the economy will be disrupted, and our environment will undergo irreversible existential changes. Above all, it will result in great misery for both present and future generations, especially for the world’s poorest and most defenceless people and countries.
Creating a turning point for the SDG Summit
The SDG Summit, which is slated to take place in September 2023, must genuinely mark a turning point. It must activate the political will and innovations that the world sorely needs. It must present a strategy for saving both people and the environment.
In order to meet the promise of the SDGs, Heads of State and Government must reaffirm their commitment to seven years of accelerated, sustained, and transformative action, both nationally and internationally. By adopting an ambitious and progressive political declaration at the SDG Summit and presenting international and national pledges for SDG transformation, leaders can show their resolve.
Political leaders will need to make courageous decisions that are in line with their aspirations in order to bring about change at the speed and scale required to meet the SDGs by 2030. To bring about disruptive change, it will be necessary to reallocate resources from one sector to another, build new regulatory frameworks, implement new technology, and mobilise a variety of actors. Such initiatives can improve social cohesiveness and trust.
While reorienting economies through green and digital transformations, aligning them with resilient paths that accord with the 1.5°C target of the Paris Agreement on climate change, these efforts must be focused on ensuring dignity, opportunities, and rights for all.
Just transitions are essential, and there must be ample chances for social protection and respectable employment. These goals can be aided by programmes like the UN Global Accelerator on Jobs and Social Protection for Just Transitions, which is mobilising political action to direct funding from international, national, which is mobilising political action to direct funding from international, national, public, and private sources, including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
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