Significant Challenges Persist in the Achievement of SDGs

With barely five years left to achieve the 2030 vision, research indicates that progress toward meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has fallen short. According to “The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2024,” only 17% of SDGs targets are currently on track, while nearly half show minimal or moderate progress, and over one-third are stalled or regressing.

The report highlights a significant need for massive investments and scaled-up actions to achieve the SDGs. The major gap lies in financing these blueprints, which outline a strategy for a more resilient and prosperous world while addressing many current global crises.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres emphasized the urgency of the report, stressing the need for stronger and more effective international cooperation to maximize progress from now onward. “With more than six years left, we must not let up on our 2030 promise to end poverty, protect the planet, and leave no one behind,” said Guterres.

The critical issue of financing development is seen as the major gap, with the SDGs investment gap in developing countries currently standing at $4 trillion per year. Developing countries require more financial resources and fiscal space compared to developed countries.

Global discussions about reforming the financial architecture must be addressed quickly to unlock the necessary financing for sustainable development. Other challenges include the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, escalating conflicts, geopolitical tensions, and growing climate chaos, which have severely hindered progress.

The report reveals that an additional 23 million people were pushed into extreme poverty, and over 100 million more suffered from hunger in 2022 compared to 2019. Massive investment and effective partnerships are crucial to driving critical transitions in food, energy, social protection, digital connectivity, and more.

The number of civilian deaths in armed conflicts skyrocketed in 2023, and the number of forcibly displaced people reached an unprecedented level, with nearly 120 million by May 2024. Civilian casualties also spiked by 72% between 2022 and 2023 amid escalating violence, highlighting the urgent need for peace. Resolving ongoing conflicts through dialogue and diplomacy is essential.

The year 2023 was also the warmest on record, with global temperatures nearing the critical 1.5°C threshold. This has added pressure, as temperature increases since the onset of El Niño rains have been immensely disastrous.

According to the report, the Financing for Development Conference and the World Summit for Social Development in 2025 will be key moments to drive SDGs momentum. As Mr. Li stressed, “The time for words has passed – the political declarations must urgently translate into actions. We must act now, and act boldly.”

Key Findings from SDGs 2024 Report:

  • For the first time this century, per-capita GDP growth in half of the world’s most vulnerable nations is slower than that of advanced economies.
  • Based on data collected in 2022 in 120 countries, 55% of the countries lacked non-discrimination laws that prohibit direct and indirect discrimination against women. Increased access to treatment has averted 20.8 million AIDS-related deaths in the past three decades.
  • Progress in education remains a grave concern, with only 58% of students worldwide achieving minimum proficiency in reading by the end of primary school. Global unemployment hit a historic low of 5% in 2023, yet persistent roadblocks remain in achieving decent work.
  • Global capacity to generate electricity from renewable energy has been expanding at an unprecedented rate, growing at 8.1% annually for the past five years.
  • Mobile broadband (3G or higher) is accessible to 95% of the world’s population, up from 78% in 2015. Record-high ocean temperatures have triggered a fourth global coral bleaching event.
  • External debt stock levels have remained unprecedentedly high in developing countries. About 60% of low-income countries are at high risk of debt distress or are already experiencing it.

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