Assessing our progress towards a sustainable future: eight years on from the approval of the 2030 Agenda

25 September 2023 marks the eighth anniversary of the approval of the 2030 Agenda and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the United Nations.

A major milestone on the path to a more sustainable world.

In September 2015, leaders from around the world gathered at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit to adopt the 2030 Agenda, an ambitious roadmap comprising 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These goals ranged from eradicating poverty and hunger to promoting gender equality, climate action and peace and justice. They were set over a 15-year period to address the most pressing challenges of our time and transform our world.

Since then, governments, businesses and civil society have worked to implement specific and measurable actions to achieve the goals set.

As we mark the eighth anniversary of this initiative, we need to address the persistent challenges, as the United Nations states: The Sustainable Development Goals are disappearing in the rear-view mirror, as is the hope and rights of current and future generations. A fundamental shift is needed – in commitment, solidarity, financing, and action – to put the world on a better path. And it is needed now.”

2023 Sustainable Development Goals Report

On 10 July, the United Nations published the 2023 Sustainable Development Goals Report 2023, Special Edition Towards a Rescue Plan for People and Planet.

And the conclusions reached to date show that promise is in peril. Indeed, Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres’ foreword to the report starts as follows:Halfway to the deadline for the 2030 Agenda, the SDG Progress Report; Special Edition shows we are leaving more than half the world behind. Progress on more than 50 per cent of targets of the SDGs is weak and insufficient; on 30 per cent, it has stalled or gone into reverse. These include key targets on poverty, hunger, and climate. Unless we act now, the 2030 Agenda could become an epitaph for a world that might have been.”

  • The report highlights the need to accelerate action because, if current trends continue, by 2030:
  • 575 million people will still be living in extreme poverty.
  • Only one third of the countries will have halved the national poverty level.
  • It will take 286 years to close the gender gaps that exist regarding legal protection and the elimination of discriminatory laws.
  • 84 million children will still be out of school and 300 million children or young people will leave school without knowing how to read and write.
  • We will fail to limit global warming to 1.5°C.
  • Renewable energy sources will generate only a small part of our energy needs.
  • Around 660 million people will continue to lack electricity and nearly 2 billion people will continue to rely on polluting fuels and technologies for cooking.
  • It could take another 25 years to halt deforestation and countless endangered species will become extinct.

Against this backdrop, the report identifies 5 key areas for urgent action:

  1. Heads of State and Government should recommit to seven years of accelerated, sustained, and transformative action, both nationally and internationally, to deliver on the promise of the Sustainable Development Goals.
  2. Governments should advance concrete, integrated and targeted policies and actions to eradicate poverty, reduce inequality and end the war on nature, with a focus on advancing the rights of women and girls and empowering the most vulnerable.
  3. Governments should strengthen national and subnational capacity, accountability, and public institutions to deliver accelerated progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
  4. The international community should recommit at the SDG Summit to deliver on the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and to mobilize the resources and investment needed for developing countries to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly those in special situations and experiencing acute vulnerability.
  5. Member States should facilitate the continued strengthening of the United Nations development system and boost the capacity of the multilateral system to tackle emerging challenges and address Sustainable Development Goals-related gaps and weaknesses in the international architecture that have emerged since 2015.

If you would like to view the full report, click on this link.

In this backdrop, the 2023 Sustainable Development Goals Report reminds us of the importance of maintaining momentum and highlights the urgency of journeying towards a more equitable, prosperous, and sustainable world. All of us, governments, businesses, and civil society have a responsibility to take targeted and bold action to achieve a better future for our planet.


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