May 26, 2024

General Studies Paper -2 

Context: The United Nations summit on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was held in New York recently. It assessed progress towards achieving the 17 SDGs and 169 specific targets set by the agenda-2030, adopted in 2015. The article highlights the slow progress and challenges in achieving SGGs.

What are SDGs?

  • SDGs stand for Sustainable Development Goals. They are a set of 17 global objectives established by the United Nations in 2015 as part of the agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.
  • Coverage-These goals cover a wide range of social, economic, and environmental issues, aiming to address the world’s most pressing challenges, including poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace, and justice.
  • Nature-The SDG programme is internationally non-binding. However, all countries have committed to work towards these goals.

What has been the overall progress towards achieving the SDGs?

  1. Slow Progress– Reports indicate that progress has been slow and off track. While there were some improvements between 2015 and 2019, they were largely inadequate to meet the goals.
  2. Impact of Covid-19-The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and other global crises have significantly impeded progress.
  3. Lack of adequate attention to environmental goals– Not enough focus has been attached to goals about the environment and protecting biodiversity. This slow progress is worrying because it goes against the idea that all the SDGs are connected and cannot be separated. It also puts the environment at risk of getting worse in a faster manner.

What are key areas that require urgent action?

The UN SDG Report 2023 identified five key areas for urgent action: –

  1. Commitment of governments to seven years of accelerated, sustained, and transformative actions to deliver on SDG promises.
  2. Concrete, integrated, and targeted policies and actions to eradicate poverty, reduce inequality, and end the war on nature, with a focus on advancing women’s and girls’ rights and empowering the vulnerable.
  3. Strengthening national and subnational capacity, accountability, and public institutions to deliver accelerated progress.
  4. Recommitment of the international community to deliver and mobilize resources to assist developing nations.
  5. Continued strengthening of the UN development system.

What is the impact of this slow progress?

  1. If the current pattern persists, it will result in a faster decline in environmental quality. This contradicts the aim of moving towards sustainability.
  2. The SDGs have not been sufficient in making much political difference at the national or local level, except discussions and some small changes in rules and institutions. It suggests that setting global goals does not directly impact politics on local or national levels.

 What are the suggestions given by 2019 report ‘Future is Now’ for accelerating SDG implementation?

  1. Systematic Approach to Achieving the 2030 Agenda –It highlights how the 2030 Agenda can truly change things by using a systematic approach. This implies finding a balance between different results and ensuring that actions help achieve several SDGs at the same time
  2. Selecting Priority Areas-It recommends choosing the most suitable starting points based on local needs and regional or national priorities. Then, it suggests using four key tools-governance, economy and money, actions by individuals and groups, and science and technology.
  3. Collaborative Partnership for Global Sustainable Development -People in these sectors must collaborate and build new partnerships to develop and execute sustainable development plans that suit each country’s unique needs and priorities. This will help make big changes globally.

Conclusion– In 2024, many countries around the world will have elections, involving 64 nations and nearly half of the world’s population. It’s important for the new governments to think about sustainability and align their national policies accordingly.

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