By Constance Ndeleko
This report, The Future is now: Science for Achieving Sustainable Development, is the first quadrennial Global Sustainable Development Report prepared by an independent group of scientists.
Why the report
Despite great efforts achieved under the SDGs there’re still some loop holes that need to be sealed.
There has been limited progress globally, with most countries having not achieved most of the 169 targets contained in the goals. This is alarming and raises strong concerns for the international community.
Much more needs to happen – and quickly – to bring about the trans-formative changes that are required: impeding policies should urgently be reversed or modified, and recent advances that holistically promote the Goals should be scaled up in an accelerated fashion.
Adding to the concern is the fact that recent trends along several dimensions with cross-cutting impacts across the entire 2030 Agenda are not even moving in the right direction. Four in particular fall into that category: rising inequalities, climate change, and biodiversity loss and increasing amounts of waste from human activity that are overwhelming capacities to process them.
Recent assessments show that, under current trends, the world’s social and natural biophysical systems cannot support the aspirations for universal human well-being embedded in the Sustainable Development Goals.
I am afraid that no country has shown any promise towards meeting a set of basic human needs at a globally sustainable level of resource use yet we’re almost clocking the 2030 Agenda. The target of balancing human well-being with a healthy environment is still far-fetched as each country is still responding to its own conditions and priorities.
The universal transformation towards sustainable development in the next decade depends on the simultaneous achievement of country specific innovative pathways. Thus, there’s a clear need for every country to take initiative and prioritize the well-being of its own people.
The Report also identifies four levers, which can be coherently deployed through each entry point to bring about the necessary transformations:
- Economy and finance
- Individual and collective action
- Science and technology
We can only attract transformation towards SDG’s if we can enhance education, healthcare, access to clean and safe environment, resilience and well-being of everyone including children.
Not only is human well-being inherently important, but people’s capabilities, in turn, drive global social, economic and environmental change according to sets of knowledge, skills, competencies, and psychological and physical abilities. Health and education are not just development outcomes. They are also the means of achieving key aspects of the global development agenda.
Extreme poverty – defined as living below the monetary threshold of $1.90 per person/day had fallen to 736 million. But the multidimensional poverty index calculated in 2018 for 105 countries presented a more sobering picture, indicating that 1.3 billion people live in households with overlapping deprivations.
8.6 per cent of the world population in 2018, and is concentrated – with more than half the world’s extreme poor living in five countries in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
In 2030, fragile States affected by crisis and conflict will be home to 85 per cent of those remaining in extreme poverty – some 342 million people. Current estimates indicate that the world is not on track, without additional effort, to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030.
Extreme poverty is now concentrated among marginalized groups – women, indigenous peoples, ethnic minorities, persons with disabilities and others. Gender inequality, which limits the opportunities and capabilities of half the world’s population, further exacerbates the condition of women in poverty.
Income poverty, poor health, low levels of education, lack of access to water and sanitation and other deprivations tend to overlap. Households and individuals chances for individuals and are cost-effective means of accelerating sustainable development
And all the above affect children equally who need the best environment to enhance their growth and development.
The narrative can only change if:
- Initiate quality social services; health and education, and protection against natural hazards, including disaster risk reduction, should be available to everyone.
- Improve Legal and social discrimination against marginalized people should be eliminated, including barriers that limit access by women and girls. This is critical for realizing human rights for all people and respecting human dignity.
- Governments to ensure equal access to opportunities, end legal and social discrimination and invest in building human capabilities so that all people are empowered and equipped to shape their lives and bring about collective change.
- A significant part of the transformation will come from changing volumes and patterns of investment – both public and private.
- Governments, international organizations and the private sector should work to encourage investment that is more strongly aligned to longer term sustainability pathways and to facilitate disinvestment away from pathways that are less sustainable.
- Scaling up the food system as it exists today to feed a growing global population through 2050-Food is essential to human survival, and its provision employs over 1 billion people. It is estimated that more than 820 million people are still hungry. At the same time, rising obesity and overweight can be seen in almost every region of the world. Globally, 2 billion adults are overweight, as are 40 million children under 5 years of age.
- In transitioning towards sustainable food systems, the focus must be on enabling more equitable global access to nutritional foods and maximizing the nutritional value of produce while, at the same time, minimizing the climate and environmental impacts of production.
This report reminds us that the future is determined by what we do now and the window of opportunity is closing fast. It is critical to encourage all actors to translate the insights from this collective action.
Together we can transform the world and we need to make difficult choices to realize our ambitions and accelerate progress towards achieving the sustainable development goals for a better tomorrow.
Report makes clear that we are at risk of irreversibly degrading the natural systems that and further points out where we are off track in “leaving no one behind”. More trans-formative and more integrated responses are urgently needed.
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