Global progress in sustainability: SDSN assessment report

Since 2015, the global sustainable reports provide for global community most updated information concerning the ranks in performance of 17 global Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs. The report-2022 is written by a group of independent experts from the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, SDSN; this edition also includes the SDG-ranking index and various dashboards. 

During last six years -after the adoption of the UN-2030 Agenda and the SDGs at the end of 2015 – a majority of governments already by 2021 have developed national strategies and action plans to implement the SDGs. For example for many governments, this takes the form of a national sustainability strategy linked to the 2030 Agenda goals and targets according to national priorities. Some other governments preferred a mainstreaming approach (through a state-wide priority’s account); however, as soon as the SDGs are, generally, implemented by sectoral governments’ ministries (within the scope of their mandates), often some governments made assessments prepared by some sectors in the governance’s executive branch.
The global SDG-22 report doesn’t evaluate national political and administrative support for the SDG implementation, though SDSN has published a detailed analysis of SDG integration in recovery and resilience plans in the EU-27.
Authors’ group, led by the SDSN President, prof. Jeffrey Sachs, prepared the SDG-22 report which consists of an executive summary and four parts; they are focused on: restoring and accelerating SDG progress through the “global plan” and available financing (part 1), comprehensive data and statistics (parts 2 and 4) and sound and ambitious policy efforts, with states’ commitments and roadmaps (part 3).
See the report’s contents in: https://dashboards.sdgindex.org/chapters

SDG-progress: reversal signs
Present multiple and simultaneous crises in Europe and around the world have diverted SDG-policy attention and priorities away from medium and long-term SDG-goals and the Paris climate agreement. A shift of focus towards short-term approaches threatens to slow down or even stall the adoption of ambitious and credible national and international plans but also squeezes available international funding for sustainable development.
Global cooperation and commitments to basic SDG-principles of social inclusion, clean energy, responsible consumption, universal access to public services, etc. are needed more than ever to respond to major world-wide challenges such as security crises, pandemics and climate change. The general global community’s opinion is that despite present difficult times, the SDGs should remain the main compass and roadmap for national governance in achieving sustainable development by 2030 and beyond.
The report acknowledges that “multiple and overlapping health and security crises have led to a reversal in SDG progress”. For example, performance on SDG 1 (no poverty) and SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth) remains below pre-pandemic levels in many low-income countries and lower-middle-income countries.
The report notes that “it is a major setback, especially considering that before the pandemic, over the period 2015-19”; the world was progressing on the SDGs at a rate of 0.5 points per year (which was also too slow to reach the 2030 deadline), with poorer countries making greater gains than rich countries.
Progress on climate and biodiversity goals is also too slow, especially in rich countries: hence, restoring and accelerating SDG progress in all countries, including the poorest and most vulnerable, should be a major priority of recovery plans and reforms in all states’ governance, in particularly ahead of the global SDG Summit in 2023.
Reference and citations to: https://dashboards.sdgindex.org/chapters/executive-summary

Managing and implementing SDGs world-wide
It has been all the time repeated that ambitious and sound national targets, strategies, and plans have been crucial in “turning the SDGs” into the national decision making and political economies. The SDSN conducts every year a consistent survey of governments’ efforts for the SDGs, in monitoring the ways the goals are integrated into national plans, budgets and monitoring systems. Besides, the SDSN also compiles metrics to gauge the alignment of national objectives and investments with the recently adopted “six SDG-transformations” (see below).
A pilot score of governments’ commitment and efforts for the SDGs (compiled for more than 60 countries), reveals that among G20 member states, the United States, Brazil, and the Russian Federation exhibit the least support for the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs; “the US is among a few UN member states to have never submitted a voluntary national review (VNR), noted the report. By contrast, Nordic countries demonstrate relatively high support for the SDGs, as well as such countries as Argentina, Germany, Japan and Mexico (all G20 member countries).
Some countries, such as Benin and Nigeria, for example, have large gaps in their SDG Index yet also earn relatively high scores for their policy efforts; it may help them achieve better results in coming years, acknowledges SDG-22 index report.
Interestingly, that some countries, e.g. Benin and Mexico have issued SDG Sovereign Bonds in recent years to scale up their sustainable development investments.
The 2022-Global SDG Index is topped by three Nordic countries – Finland, Denmark and Sweden – and European countries ate among global 10-top in ranking. As to the European continent, the EU’s strategic path to SDGs, among other means, is through three main directions: a) energy saving, b) diversifying energy supplies, and c) massive investment in renewables (e.g. solar, wind, biomass, hydrogen, etc.). However, even these countries face major challenges in achieving several SDGs, the report noticed.
The 2022 International Spillover Index, which is included in the global SDG-index, underlines how rich countries, including many European countries, generate negative socioeconomic and environmental spillovers, including through unsustainable trade and value supply chains.
Citations from: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/da/speech_22_3411

National political commitments and “transformations”
To operationalize the 17 SDGs and 169 targets, SDSN and national partners promote a specific approach based on “six SDG-transformations” that must be implemented in parallel and adapted to local contexts and national developmental priorities. These “transformations” include: = quality education (SDG 4), = access to good quality and affordable health care (SDG 3), = renewable energy and circular economy (SDGs 7, 12, and 13); = sustainable land and marine management (SDGs 2, 14, and 15); = sustainable urban infrastructure (SDGs 6, 9, and 11); and = universal access to digital services (SDG 9).
Besides, the SDSN noted that “scientific knowledge and networks” were the most vital instruments “to model structural changes over a time horizon of 10-30 years”; such networks could activate sustainable policy discussions and public consultations on the mentioned six SDG-transformations.
For example, every year, the SDSN mobilizes its global network of experts to track public statements by governments, national strategic and public practices in supporting the SDGs implementation. Thus, since 2018, such information has been collected through the SDSN surveys on national governance’s SDGs coordination and implementation mechanisms: in 2022, the survey covers 60 countries (13 more than 47 states covered in 2021) plus the EU-27 states and all countries in the G20 and most OECD members, as well as many countries with a population greater than 100 million inhabitants.
Citations from: https://dashboards.sdgindex.org/chapters/part-3-policy-efforts-and-commitments-for-the-sdgsm; and the general source: SDSN 2022 survey on “National coordination and implementation mechanisms at the central/federal level of government”, February 2022.

Many countries have already developed national strategies for SDG monitoring: out of 61 states covered in the SDSN survey, 46 governments have adapted the SDG framework to their political economies and identified sets of nationally relevant indicators; on average, such “national sets” comprise around 135 indicators. Several countries have also developed online platforms to report on national progress towards achieving SDGs.
These efforts to strengthen national mechanisms in monitoring sustainable development are critical for implementing basic SDG-interventions. Since 2016, 187 UN member states have prepared voluntary national reviews (VNRs) which are used as an “official government-led process” in reporting on the SDG progress, gaps, and policy efforts.
Thus, it is noted in 2022, that 45 countries have committed to submitting a VNR, which is comparable to the pre-pandemic period. But while some countries are preparing their fourth VNR, six countries have still never submitted even one: Haiti, Iran, Myanmar, South Sudan, the United States, and Yemen.
The main idea of “six transformations” is a universal recognition that all 17 SDGs can be achieved through six major socio-economic and environmental “transformations” focused on such directions as education and skills, health and well-being, clean energy and industry, sustainable land use, sustainable cities and digital technologies. All six transformations are guided by the “twin principles”: 1. a “social one”, i.e. to “leave no one behind”, and 2. an “economic-environmental one”, i.e. “ensure circularity and decoupling”.
Besides, the six transformations provide an action agenda for national governance’s system, i.e. ministries, businesses and civil society at large. Building on the SDSN survey of governments’ efforts for implementing SDGs, as well including the six-transformation scorecards, the 2022 index presents pilot scores rating the commitments and efforts that governments have made towards achieving the SDGs. These scores range from 0 (very low SDG commitment) to 100 (very high SDG commitment) and cover all 60 countries in the 2022 SDG Policy Coordination Survey (presented in report’s part 3), including all G20 members and most OECD countries; the scores include 18 indicators on national policy efforts and commitments.
Note: some countries’ profiles, ranks and indices can be assessed at the SDG-22 report at: for Finland (rank 1)in https://dashboards.sdgindex.org/profiles/finland; for Denmark (rank 2) in https://dashboards.sdgindex.org/profiles/denmark; for Germany (rank 6) in https://dashboards.sdgindex.org/profiles/germany, for Estonia (rank 10) in https://dashboards.sdgindex.org/profiles/estonia, for Latvia (rank 14) in https://dashboards.sdgindex.org/profiles/latvia, for Lithuania (rank 39) in https://dashboards.sdgindex.org/profiles/lithuania, etc.

 

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