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Serious Doubts about Sustainable Development Goals being Achieved by 2030

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By Santo D. Banerjee

NEW YORK (IDN) – Since the international community started implementing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), efforts on some of the Goals have been successful “in a number of areas”, but on the whole “progress has been slow or even reversed”, notes the UN, adding that the most vulnerable people and countries continue to suffer the most and the global response has not been ambitious enough.

“For instance, extreme poverty has reached the lowest point since its tracking began. And yet, at the current pace, we are still not on track to end poverty by 2030. Similarly, many countries are taking actions to protect our environment, but the health of our earth is still deteriorating at an alarming rate,” warns the UN in two reports to be submitted to governments, business and civil society leaders from around the world.

They will gather at the United Nations headquarters from July 9 to 18 to review the progress that has been made globally and locally on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agreed by the international community in September 2015.

Titled the Fourth High-level Political Forum (HLPF), convened under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), it will set the stage for the high-level week during the 74th Session of the UN General Assembly in September, in which the organization will host the Climate Action and SDG Summits as well as high-level meetings on Financing for Development, Universal Health Coverage and the Small Island Developing States Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway – garnering support for some of the major issues at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

According to UN DESA Voice, the year 2019 will close the first cycle of the 2030 Agenda implementation. The forthcoming HLPF will have reviewed global progress on the last remaining set of SDGs and 142 countries will have presented their Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs). Two SDG progress reports will shed light on the progress the world is making to achieve the SDGs and highlight the areas that need most urgent attention.

The Report of the Secretary General: The Special Edition of the Sustainable Development Goals Progress Report, is an official document mainly intended to inform the HLPF on progress towards the SDGs.

Going beyond the usual data-driven analysis of progress, the special edition addresses the global response to the 2030 Agenda and the gaps and challenges encountered over the first cycle of its implementation. It also describes efforts necessary to accelerate SDG action. It highlights cross-cutting actions to advance progress on all the Goals and targets and help the ones who are falling behind.

The Sustainable Development Report 2019 tells the stories of SDG progress with charts, infographics and maps, and presents an in-depth analysis of selected indicators. Prepared by UN DESA’s Statistics Division with inputs from more than 50 international and regional organizations, in addition to the global trends, this report also highlights regional progress and analyses.

Both reports are based on the global indicator framework developed by the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on Sustainable Development Goal Indicators and present those indicators for which sufficient data are available.

The Sustainable Development Report 2019 will be launched on July 9, the opening day of the HLPF. The Secretary-General’s report is already available to member states as they prepare for their deliberations at the HLPF.

The forthcoming HLPF’s theme is: “Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality”. The set of goals is to be reviewed in depth:

Goal 4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

Goal 8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all

Goal 10. Reduce inequality within and among countries

Goal 13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

Goal 16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

Goal 17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.

Forty-seven countries (7 for the second time) have volunteered to present their VNRs to the HLPF. These aim to facilitate the sharing of experiences, including successes, challenges and lessons learned, with a view to accelerating the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The VNRs also seek to strengthen policies and institutions of governments and to mobilize multi-stakeholder support and partnerships for the implementation of the SDGs,” says a background note.

The Second Global VNR Workshop for countries presenting a Voluntary National Review at the forthcoming HLPF was held at the UN Campus in Bonn, Germany on February 19- 20, 2019. The workshop was organized by UN DESA in close collaboration with the UN System Staff College (UNSSC) and with the support of the Government of Germany.

The two-day peer learning event focused on taking stock of the VNR preparations thus far and provided guidance on the scope of the VNR report as well as on the presentation of the review at the forthcoming HLPF. The workshop brought together 65 participants, including notably the ECOSOC president, 47 government officials from VNR countries, representatives of the UN Regional Commissions and Resident Coordinators from some VNR countries. The workshop programme included plenary sessions and discussions in working groups to foster peer learning. [IDN-InDepthNews – 01 July 2019]

Photo credit: United Nations.

IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate.

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