The High-Level Forum (HLPF) to review the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is around the corner – July 10 – 19, 2023

You may well ask how are we doing? The answer is in the advanced unedited edition of Progress Towards the Sustainable Development Goals – Towards a Rescue Plan for People and Planet which was launched at the end of April 2023. it is a long document of 43 pages. When the Secretary-General launched the Report he made the following statement – a summary of what is in the document. The answer to the question is not very well!

Some points to consider: This is the halfway point to the 2030 deadline. Half the world has been left behind. Only 12 percent of the Sustainable Development Goal targets are on track, progress on 50 percent is weak and insufficient and more than 30 percent of the SDGs have gone into reverse. The COVID-19 pandemic and the triple crisis of climate, biodiversity, and pollution are having a devastating impact, amplified by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It is estimated that only 30 percent of all countries will achieve SDG 1 on poverty by 2030. Hunger has also increased and is back at 2005 levels. Gender equality is some 300 years away.  Just 26 people have the same wealth as half of the world’s population. Our war on nature is accelerating. A financial crisis is looming due to increasing debt levels.

The report outlines the following example of inequality. The International Monetary Fund allocated $650 billion in Special Drawing Rights – the main global mechanism to boost liquidity during COVID-19 crisis. Based on current quotas, the countries of the European Union received a total of 160 billion dollars in Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) while African countries with three times the population received 34 billion dollars – and that was money created out of nothing.

The many UN agreements concluded in 2015 – Financing for Development, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Climate Agreement, and the NY Declaration on Migrants and Refugees (2016) all committed to peace and prosperity for all people and the planet. Today the promises are in peril. Why? Chief among them is the blatant inequality, injustice and abuse of power within international relations that run from governments to global institutions, through the international financial architecture, to private banks, credit rating agencies, and an unscrupulous corporate sector.

The 2030 Agenda is an agenda of justice and equality, inclusive, sustainable development, human rights, gender justice, climate justice, and dignity for all. The achievement of this agenda requires fundamental changes to the way power is exercised and the global economy is organized. The SDGs are the path to bridge both economic and geopolitical divides, restore trust and rebuild solidarity.

How can we move from aspiration to action and full implementation of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals between now and 2030? Given adequate resources, strong political will, and determination to implement Human Rights, the paradigm shift could be launched. The proposal of the UN Secretary-General for an SDG stimulus plan calls for additional liquidity, effective debt restructuring, and the expansion of development financing. Let us recall this 75th anniversary year of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the mid-point on the road to 2030 as the year when no one was left behind.

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