Three years have elapsed since UN member states adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which prominently featured the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Ever since, sustainability has become a recurring theme in governmental policies and developmental visions of Think Tanks, in the developing as well as the developed world. Though, beyond blueprints, guidelines and chalking a future course of action, the real progress on the ground is far from satisfactory.
The 2018 SDG Index and Dashboards Report titled Global Responsibilities – Implementing the Goals, recently released by Bertelsmann Stiftung and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), aims to fairly assess the situation and the steps taken by governments. The report clearly shows that not even a single country is close to fulfilling all goals by 2030. The report also delves into the mechanisms undertaken by the governments.
Among the G-20 countries, which together account for more than 65% of the world’s population and 80% of its GDP, Brazil, Italy and Mexico have taken significant steps for the realization of the objective. Still the chasm between the various countries in G-20 is huge, as only India and Germany have made a partial assessment of the investment that is required for the goals. Not even one country has made provisions for SDGs in their budgetary allocation, which only suggests that a lot needs to be done in order to achieve the targets and a lackadaisical attitude towards sustainability needs to be shunned.
As per the report, the Nordic countries of Finland, Sweden and Denmark top the SDG Index, which is a ranking based on all sustainable goals parameters. The performance of these countries is impressive but their need to increase their pace to fulfill all of the goals by 2030.
Germany and France are the only G7 countries among the top ten performers. The United States ranks 35th on the Index, while People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation occupy the 54th and 63rd position in the list respectively.
The Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad and the Central African Republic are at the bottom.
“Once again, the Northern European countries come out on top of the SDG index, and the poorest countries come out at the bottom. The implications are clear: The social-market philosophy of a mixed economy that balances the market, social justice and green economy is the route to the SDGs. Countries trapped in extreme poverty need more help from the rest of the world”, says Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director of the SDSN.
The patterns in the report highlight the profound difference in the priorities of the developed and developing countries and their outcomes. While pulling people from poverty still remains an elusive goal for the poor countries, most of the developed countries have eradicated extreme poverty completely. Though developed countries have to emphasize climate change goals and reducing carbon footprints.
Low-income countries are making progress in poverty alleviation and providing access to healthcare and education. But they lack the basic infrastructure and funds to manage an environmental issue, that’s why even their progress doesn’t reflect in the rankings.
“The report shows the crucial role of the G20 countries for fulfilling the global goals. Rich countries need to act as role models and must reduce their negative spillover effects while providing effective means to integrate the goals into national action plans”, says Aart De Geus, CEO and Chairman of the Bertelsmann Stiftung.
The report underlines that the way ahead is only through mutual cooperation and concerted efforts by all countries to combat poverty and environmental degradation.