18 January 2018
A Year in the Life of the SDGs, in 17 Stories
Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
story highlights

Throughout the year, the SDG Knowledge Hub tracks actions to achieve each Goal, and reflections on progress and challenges.

This brief highlights one story for each of the 17 SDGs, to provide a snapshot of key issues raised regarding that Goal in 2017.

New features in 2017 included a weekly knowledge briefing and Generation 2030, a column for stories by and about youth, who will see the agenda through to 2030.

In 2017, the SDG Knowledge Hub provided news on all of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, highlighting actions being taken on issues related to the Goals and how efforts to address the challenges are evolving. Below we share one story on each SDG, to provide a snapshot of key issues raised regarding the Goals in 2017.

On SDG 1 (no poverty), a policy brief reviewed progress on poverty eradication, based on reports prepared by the UN for the in-depth review of SDG 1 at the 2017 session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). The brief highlights the importance of ensuring that SDG 1 and the others are implemented in “an integrated and co-beneficial way, with minimal tradeoffs.”

The zero hunger Goal (SDG 2) was the subject of concern at the Committee on World Food Security’s (CFS) 44th session, which noted that global hunger increased for the first time in ten years, driven by conflict and climate change. As noted in our summary, delegates said the world is not on track to achieve SDG 2 or other targets related to food security and nutrition.

Positive news was reported on SDG 3 (good health and well-being), following the first report to simultaneously track progress on the 2030 Agenda and the African Union’s Agenda 2063. Our story highlights that significant gains in health were reported in the past decade for the African region, including a substantial decline in child and maternal mortality, and in the incidence of HIV.

On SDG 4 (quality education for all), interlinkages with other Goals and issues were a common theme. We reported on a call from the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education to address discrimination that blocks 263 million children around the world from education, related to being migrants or refugees, or to their cultural, linguistic or ethnic backgrounds.

A policy brief on SDG 5 (gender equality) highlights three new sets of gender guidelines adopted in the second half of the year: the UNFCCC Gender Action Plan, the Global Environment Facility’s Policy on Gender Equality, and the International Tropical Timber Organization’s Policy Guidelines on Gender Equality and Empowering Women, with the latter specifically designed to take forward SDG 5.

A monitoring initiative for the Goal on clean water and sanitation (SDG 6) was discussed at the UN-Water meeting in August, with multiple UN agencies reporting on an interagency effort to draft methodologies for the SDG 6 indicators, produce a baseline assessment, and contribute to the SDG 6 synthesis report that will be released prior to HLPF 2018.

Progress towards SDG 7 (affordable and clean energy) is not sufficient in the area of electrification rates among the least developed countries (LDCs). Our summary of the UN Conference on Trade and Development’s (UNCTAD) LDCs Report notes that realizing universal access to energy by 2030 will require a 350% increase of the annual rate of electrification in LDCs.

Interlinkages also affect the state of SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth), especially at the regional level. An ILO report on the occupied Arab territories stressed that decent work is a cornerstone of the peace effort in the West Bank. Conversely, the stalled peace process and economic constraints are factors in the deterioration of workers’ daily lives.

A policy brief on SDG 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure), prepared ahead of HLPF 2017, noted that in LDCs and African countries, industrialization rates lagged, and the benefits of the digital revolution remained elusive. The brief notes that the exchange of experiences at the HLPF could motivate more countries to join the cyber revolution.

SDG 10 addresses reduced inequalities within and between countries, and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) looked at the 35 OECD countries and Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Lithuania, the Russian Federation and South Africa, to reveals “pockets of inequality” in all OECD countries. Among the forms of inequality, the report noted migrants’ disadvantages in their new countries.

The role of sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11) in delivering sustainable development was addressed in connection with a number of other SDGs. For example, the role of sub-national efforts to address climate change took center stage during a number of side events at the Bonn Climate Change Conference in November, and the following month in pledges at the One Planet Summit.

SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production) relies on actions under other SDGs in this interconnected framework, with a guest article author noting that at least 49 of the 169 targets depend on the shift to sustainable consumption and production. As a result, policies that leverage action towards more than one target will “require more coherence, coordination and integration across government departments than we have seen to date.”

New approaches to financing for sustainable development, especially finance for climate action (SDG 13), received a great deal of attention in 2017. This story highlighted findings that green bond issuances had reached US$96 billion since the beginning of 2017, with total issuances for the year expected to represent a 36% increase from 2016.

SDG 14 (life below water) was in the spotlight for much of 2017, as the UN held the Ocean Conference. Following the Conference, we reported that the UN launched nine thematic multi-stakeholder “Communities of Ocean Action” to generate new voluntary commitments and support collaboration across ocean stakeholders.

On SDG 15 (life on land), a guest article by scientists involved with developing the scientific conceptual framework for land degradation neutrality (SDG target 15.3) highlighted the response hierarchy of “Avoid > Reduce > Reverse” land degradation, which creates a pathway to integrate, in land restoration activities, actions for climate change mitigation and adaptation and protections for biodiversity.

In a new feature of the SDG Knowledge Hub, a weekly knowledge briefing drew attention to collaborations for SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions) among private sector actors. One report on this topic noted a need to “go beyond the typical ‘do no harm’ approach” in order to build trust with local communities.

Finally, SDG 17 (partnerships for the Goals) addresses all of the means of implementation for the other 16 SDGs, in areas of finance, technology, policy coherence, data and more. Taken as a whole, the three parallel processes currently under way at the UN to reform its work – in the areas of management, development, and peace and security – comprise an enormous attempt to shore up the international institutional means of implementation for the 2030 Agenda. The three strands geared up in their own ways throughout 2017, and all of the SDG Knowledge Hub’s reform coverage can be found in one place, on this page.

Any partnership for the SDGs is incomplete without a role for young people, who will see the agenda through to 2030. In 2017, the SDG Knowledge Hub began producing a set of stories by and about youth called ‘Generation 2030.’ We look forward to hearing their voices even more loudly in 2018, as new assessments of progress, obstacles to change, and new methodologies for addressing the interlinkages among the SDGs progress come to the fore of discussion in the SDGs’ third year.

related posts