7 December 2021
SDSN Provides SDG Scorecards for 50 US States, Paraguay Territories
Photo Credit: Carlos Delgado
story highlights

On SDSN's SDG Index, Vermont is ranked first, followed by Massachusetts.

On a Leave No One Behind Index, Vermont and Hawai’i rank highest of the US states.

West Virginia, Arkansas and and Mississippi are among the lowest ranked US states on both indices.

A report on Paraguay finds promising trends on indicators of extreme deprivation and that extreme poverty is no longer a major challenge.

The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) has issued its second SDG Index for the US, updating the benchmarking for each of the 50 US states in its 2018 US report. SDSN also released its second SDG Index for Paraguay, which also takes a sub-national view of progress.

On 16 November 2021, SDSN launched the ‘Sustainable Development Report of the United States 2021.’ The publication measures each US state’s advancement towards or movement away from the goals of the 2030 Agenda.

According to the report’s state rankings, the highest-performing region is New England (includes the six US states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont). The Index ranks Vermont first, followed by Massachusetts, Maine is fifth, New Hampshire seventh, and Connecticut ranks 12th of 50.

However, no state is on track to achieve the SDGs by 2030 and every state is moving backwards on at least 20% of its indicators. The lowest ranking states are Arkansas, Louisiana, West Virginia, and Mississippi. These are all located in the southern and Appalachia regions of the US.

The 2021 report includes a Leave No One Behind Index, which assesses each state’s progress specifically on indicators related to multiple dimensions of inequality, such as: poverty and access to services; geography and environment; age; racial, physical and religious identity; and gender and sexual identity. Vermont and Hawai’i rank the highest on this index. West Virginia, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Mississippi are the lowest ranked on leaving no one behind.

In a foreword to the report, SDSN President Jeffrey Sachs links the two sets of rankings, explaining that states’ poor performance reflects the country’s enormous inequalities.

Since most US states are far from being on track to achieve the SDGs, Sachs expresses his hope that the report will “spur a new national commitment to the goals” by the US Administration. He notes that many of the proposals being debated among US legislators for building back better from COVID-19 “are strongly aligned with the SDGs”, and yet opposition to the legislation has been waged by representatives from the states that are farthest behind.

SDSN’s first-ever Sustainable Development Report for Paraguay was released on 8 November 2021. The report provides both internal and external comparisons for SDG performance in Paraguay, looking at its progress compared to other countries in Latin America, while also presenting a subnational SDG Index and Dashboards for the country’s 17 departments and capital district. At the launch event for the report, Paraguay’s Finance Minister said understanding the disparities in SDG progress across territories within the country is crucial for effective and precise policymaking.

Overall, the report finds:

  • promising trends on indicators of extreme deprivation and that extreme poverty is no longer a major challenge for Paraguay, which also has universal access to potable water and electricity, and declining rates of infant and neonatal mortality.
  • SDG 3 (good health and wellbeing) is a particular challenge; the COVID-19 pandemic has posed a major challenge to the health system.
  • Current agricultural practices are not sustainable, and are causing massive destruction of Paraguay’s forests.
  • Persistent disparities between urban and rural areas, per the subnational SDG index
  • Important data are missing to monitor the SDGs at the subnational level. The report includes an annex describing how additional indicators that are key to monitoring the SDGs can be calculated using existing national databases.

SDSN will launch the third edition of its Europe SDG Index on 14 December. [Publication: Sustainable Development Report of the United States 2021] [Landing page] [SDSN launch event for US report] [SDSN press release on US report] [Publication: Paraguay Sustainable Development Report 2021] [Key facts from Paraguay report]

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