The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) issued its annual Sustainable Development Goals Report, warning that “cascading and interlinked crises,” dominated by COVID-19, climate change, and conflicts, have reversed years of progress in eradicating poverty and hunger, improving health and education, and providing basic services, putting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development “in grave danger.”

The Sustainable Development Goals Report is the only official UN report that monitors global progress on the 2030 Agenda. It is prepared by the DESA in collaboration with the UN Statistical System, using data and estimates in the Global SDG Indicators Database, which contains global, regional, and country data and metadata on the official SDG indicators. The database uses information from custodians for each SDG indicator, and specifies whether the national data were adjusted, estimated, modeled, or are the result of global monitoring. 

According to Yongyi Min, Chief, SDG Monitoring Section, Statistics Division, DESA, and the publication’s lead author, this year’s report “paints a particularly bleak picture” of the 2030 Agenda and “how it is being seriously jeopardized” by multiple intersecting crises, wiping out years of progress on the SDGs and pushing millions into hunger and poverty.

Some of the report’s findings include:

  • SDG 1: Between 657 and 676 million people are currently projected to live in extreme poverty in 2022, compared to the pre-pandemic projection of 581 million; 
  • SDG 2: About one in ten people are suffering from hunger worldwide, with 161 million additional people having slid into chronic hunger in 2020 alone;
  • SDG 3: The COVID-19 pandemic is threatening decades of progress in global health, decreasing global life expectancy and basic immunization coverage and increasing prevalence of anxiety and depression and deaths from tuberculosis and malaria;
  • SDG 4: 147 million children have missed over half of in-person instruction in 2020-2021, and 24 million learners may never return to school; 
  • SDG 5: Women accounted for 39% of total employment in 2019 but 45% of global employment losses in 2020, with many increasingly burdened with unpaid care work, and domestic violence intensifying;
  • SDG 6: Meeting drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene targets by 2030 requires a fourfold increase in the pace of progress;
  • SDG 7: Progress on electrification has slowed, with 679 million projected to have no electricity access in 2030, based on current trends;
  • SDG 8: One in ten children are engaged in child labor worldwide – a total of 160 million in 2020;
  • SDG 9: Global manufacturing has rebounded from the pandemic but least developed countries (LDCs) are left behind;
  • SDG 10: The pandemic has caused the first rise in between-country income inequality in a generation;
  • SDG 11: Leaving no one behind will require an intensified focus on 1 billion slum dwellers;
  • SDG 12: 13.3% of the world’s food is lost after harvesting and before reaching retail markets, and 17% of total food is wasted at the consumer level;
  • SDG 13: Energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions increased 6% in 2021 reaching their highest level ever; 
  •  SDG 14: In 2021, more than 17 million metric tons of plastic entered the ocean – a number projected to double or triple by 2040;
  • SDG 15: Ten million hectares of forest are destroyed every year, with almost 90% of global deforestation due to agricultural expansion; 
  • SDG 16: While global homicide rate declined 5.2% between 2015-2020, a quarter of the global population lives in conflict-affected countries; and
  • SDG 17: Net official direct assistance (ODA) reached a new high of USD 177.6 billion, largely due to COVID-19-related aid, but ODA for SDG data declined by more than 18% (2020). 

In a forward to the report, UN Secretary-General António Guterres calls for “an urgent rescue effort for the SDGs” by creating a global economy that works for all and ensuring greater investment in data infrastructure. Echoing this message, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Liu Zhenmin outlines a three-step “road map for survival”: ending armed conflicts and embarking on a path of diplomacy and peace; adopting low-carbon, resilient, and inclusive development pathways; and comprehensively transforming the international financial and debt architecture.

The report was released on 7 July 2022, during the first week of the 2022 High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). [Publication: The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2022] [Key Messages] [Statistical Annex 2022] [Publication Landing Page] [DESA Press Release] [UN News Story] [Interview with Yongyi Min, DESA] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Sustainable Development Goals Report 2021]