The UN’s SDGs or the Sustainable Development Goals are 17 interlinked targets that outline the shared objective to reach ‘peace and prosperity for people and the planet’. These goals affect everyone globally and many countries are working towards reaching them by 2030. The 17 goals are:
However, in a recent five point plan, written by a global collective of scientists, economists, communicators, and advocates known as Earth4All and the Think Tank, Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS), it has been announced that the SDGs can be successfully delivered, although not for another 20 years. Meaning that the SDGs may not be reached until after 2050.
“SDGs for All”, does state that it is possible to reach the goals by 2030.
A report titled, “SDGs for All”, does state that it is possible to reach the goals by 2030 if policymakers make significant changes to implement what is being described as five ‘extraordinary turnarounds’ that break with current trends.
These five turnarounds include:
- Addressing Inequality – The world must ensure that those who are within the wealthiest 10% take less that 40% of a country’s national income.
- Increasing Clean Energy – To reach net zero by 2050.
- Diet – Changes need to be made to the food system to encourage healthier diets, that increases positive impacts for both the planet and the people on it.
- Empowering Women – Gender Equality should be reached by 2050.
- Ending Poverty – International financial systems need to be reformed to lift 3-4 billion people above the poverty line.
In order to carry these five points out and to reach the SDGs, policymakers must increase investments in sustainable projects and create a taxation system that is higher for those that are in the wealthiest class bracket. There also needs to be a reformation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is the major financial agency of the United Nations, responsible for achieving sustainable growth and prosperity for its 190 member countries. This financial agency needs to direct its focus towards allocating Special Drawing Rights (SDR), as well as giving sovereign debt relief to countries that are classed as being low income.
The UN’s not-for-profit organisation the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) was set up to promote SDG implementation at both national and international levels. In 2023, this organisation released a report claiming that the progress made towards the SDGs has been static for the past three years. This means that currently the world is not on track to reach the targets set by the UN that have a target date of 2030.
António Guterres, the UN’s Secretary-General, has warned the world that it needs to make significant changes to address climate change. He stated:
“The era of global warming has ended; the era of global boiling
has arrived. The air is unbreathable. The heat is unbearable.
And the level of fossil-fuel profits and climate inaction
is unacceptable. Leaders must lead. No more hesitancy.
No more excuses. No more waiting for others to move first.
There is simply no more time for that.”
Too Little Too Late or The Giant Leap
The report also emphasises two different scenarios for how the world can continue.
- Too Little Too Late (TLTL) – This is the business-as-usual approach, where the world continues with the way it is. With wealth inequality increasing creating extreme poverty, the world getting 2.5ᴼC hotter, ecosystems becoming unstable, and increasing global social tensions which will cause conflict.
- The Giant Leap (GL) – This is the complete opposite of the first scenario, with policymakers making significant changes to positively increase empowerment, reducing poverty and the wealth gap, increasing food security, and preventing any further negative impacts of climate change.
Those who were involved with the writing of the report are hoping to encourage policymakers to take on board their suggestions. This will become evident at future events including COP28 (Thursday the 30th of November 2023 to Tuesday the 12th of December 2023) and the UN Summit of the Future (Sunday the 22nd of September to Monday the 23rd of September 2024).
For more information regarding the pledges set out in last year’s COP27 see our Focus pages here.