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Sustainable Development Goals: Accelerating or changing course?

21 September, 2023 | Ricardo Changala

On September 18 and 19, 2023, heads of state, Government and State representatives met at the so-called Sustainable Development Goals Summit, just before the start of a new annual session of the UN General Assembly.

Approved in 2015 together with the 2030 Development Agenda, the ambitious goals are far from being met.

The UN secretary-general prepared a previous document where he realized that only 15% of the 140 agreed targets are on track, while almost half are moderately or seriously deviated and about 30% have not registered any progress or have fallen below the starting line of 2015.

By way of example, it was expressed that if the current trajectory is maintained, it will take 286 years to close the gender gaps only in terms of the elimination of discriminatory laws towards women. Another example, it is predicted that by 2030 84 million children will not go to school and 300 million children will leave school unable to read or write.

Of course, it will be the countries with the lowest level of development that will be most affected, it is expected that by 2030 about 600 million people will continue to live in extreme poverty and only a third of the countries will have been able to reduce poverty to at least half of the current numbers.

In this disappointing context, the UN States adopted a political declaration where they recognize the urgent need to take the necessary measures to reverse the decline and accelerate progress to fulfill the 2030 Agenda and achieve the SDGs.[1]

Beyond what we can say about the effectiveness of this type of commitments, about the true intention and /or feasibility of making them concrete, it seems that, faced with an indisputable reality, countries are looking for ways to try to provide answers, reaffirm previous commitments, but without solid contents or strategies that allow us to assume that different results will be obtained from the current ones.

When the central motto is in “accelerating” the march towards the SDGs, it is assumed that we just must go faster, but that the path is the right one.

The facts prove otherwise.


[1] General Assembly, Political declaration of the high-level political forum on sustainable development held under the auspices of the General Assembly, A/HLPF/2023/L.1, September 2023.