SDG Report 2018 Finds Conflict, Climate Change, Inequality Hindering Progress
Photo by IISD | Lynn Wagner
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The SDG Report 2018 shares progress on the 2030 Agenda and identifies areas where progress is currently insufficient to meet the SDGs by 2030.

The report explores the interlinked nature of the SDGs and finds that conflict, climate change, inequality and persistent areas of poverty and hunger are key challenges in countries’ efforts to achieve the SDGs.

20 June 2018: The UN has launched the 2018 version of the yearly Sustainable Development Goals Report. It finds that conflict, climate change and inequality are major factors in growing hunger and displacement, and are hindering progress towards the SDGs. The report highlights positive progress on the proportion of people living below the poverty line, under-five mortality and access to electricity.

Francesca Perucci, UN Statistics Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), speaking at the launch of the report on 20 June 2018, in New York, US, stressed the importance of timely data collection and analysis to monitor progress. She said this will require “political leadership, adequate resources and commitment to further expand on tools available.”

The publication titled, ‘The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2018,’ finds that “more people are leading better lives” than they were a decade ago. Since 2000, the proportion of people living with families on less than US$1.90 per day has falled from 26.9% to 9.2%, and the unemployment rate has decreased. Maternal mortality has declined by 37%, and the under-five child mortality rate has decreased by 47%. The proportion of population with access to electricity in the least developed countries (LDCs) has more than doubled.

Child marriage continues to decline around the world, in line with progress towards SDG target 5.2. In Southern Asia, for example, the report states that a girl’s risk of marriage during childhood has decreased by more than 40% since 2000. On SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production), the report states that over 100 countries now have sustainable consumption and production (SCP) policies and initiatives.

Despite this progress, the report finds significant challenges remaining on the world’s progress towards the SDGs. The report underscores particular challenges for the world’s most marginalized and disadvantaged groups. Among other examples, gender inequality continues to hold women back and deprive them of basic opportunities and rights, while youth are three times more likely to be unemployed than adults.

The report also reflects on interlinkages among the SDGs. To address challenges related to climate change, conflict, inequality, persistent pockets of poverty and hunger, environmental degradation and urbanization, the authors suggest establishing robust water and sanitation infrastructure, ensuring access to clean and affordable energy, protecting ecosystems, building ecologically friendly and safe cities and adopting sustainable consumption and production patterns.

The report elaborates on how a transition towards sustainable and resilient societies depends on responsible management of finite resources. It underscores access to basic services as a stepping stone to sustainable development. The report further emphasizes how a resilient society can then deflect the threat of conflict by investing in good governance, reducing inequality and improving living conditions.

Individual SDG highlights include:

  • On SDG 2 (zero hunger), the number of hungry people in the world has risen from 777 million in 2015 to 815 million in 2016, mostly as a result of conflicts and disasters and droughts linked to climate change. In 18 countries, the report finds that conflict is a main driver of food insecurity.
  • On SDG 4 (quality education), more than half of children and adolescents are not meeting minimum proficiency in reading and mathematics, with disparities persisting along gender, urban-rural and other divides.
  • On SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation), in 2015, 2.3 billion people lacked a basic level of sanitation, and 892 million people practiced open defecation.
  • On SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities), 91% of the global urban population breathes air that does not meet the World Health Organization’s (WHO) air quality guidelines for particulate matter.
  • On SDG 14 (life below water), global trends suggest declining marine fish stocks and deterioration of coastal waters, due to pollution and eutrophication.
  • On SDG 15 (life on land), the report finds that the world’s forest areas continue to shrink.
  • On SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions), more than 570 different flows involving trafficking in persons were found between 2012 and 2014.
  • On SDG 17 (partnership for the Goals), official development assistance (ODA) for capacity building and national planning has been stable since 2010.

The report recommends improving the collection and dissemination of reliable, accessible, disaggregated and timely data, and urges better evidence-based policymaking to support progress on the SDGs. The report further calls for: increased political commitment and investment and technology and innovation. [UN DESA Press Release] [Report Webpage]

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