The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) has published the 2024 edition of its annual Sustainable Development Goals Report. Recognizing the significant challenges the world is facing in reaching the SDGs, the report identifies areas for accelerated action to fulfill the promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Sustainable Development Goals Report is the only official UN report that monitors global progress on the 2030 Agenda. It is prepared by 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. 

The report paints a picture of “a world in great upheaval.” It finds that only 17% of the SDG targets are on track, almost half show minimal or moderate progress, and more than one-third demonstrate a lack of progress or a reversal thereof. According to the findings, 23 million more people were living in extreme poverty in 2022 compared to 2019, over 100 million more experienced hunger, and global temperatures approached “the critical 1.5°C threshold.”

Among the crises that have hindered progress, the report blames the COVID-19 pandemic, conflicts, geopolitical tensions, and climate change.

“The time for words has passed – the political declarations must urgently translate into actions,” said Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Li Junhua on the occasion of the report’s launch. “We must act now, and act boldly.”

The report identifies three urgent priorities:

  • Financing development, including bridging the USD 4 trillion annual SDG financing gap and reforming the global financial architecture;
  • Peace and security, including resolution of ongoing conflicts through dialogue and diplomacy; and
  • Implementation surge, enabled through massive investment and effective partnerships to drive critical transitions in food, energy, social protection, and digital connectivity, among other areas.

The report identifies the Summit of the Future in September as a pivotal moment in “getting the world back on track to achieving the SDGs.”

Other key findings include:

  • Global renewable energy capacity has grown 8.1% per year for the past five years;
  • Girls in most regions have achieved parity and even pulled ahead of boys in completing schooling at all levels;
  • Mobile broadband is accessible to 95% per cent of the world’s population, up from 78% in 2015; and
  • Increased access to treatment has averted 20.8 million AIDS-related deaths in the past three decades.

At the same time:

  • Per-capita gross domestic product (GDP) growth in half of the world’s most vulnerable countries is now slower than that of developed economies;
  • Only 58% of students worldwide achieve minimum proficiency in reading by the end of elementary school;
  • External debt stock levels have remained unprecedentedly high in developing countries; and
  • About 60% of low-income countries (LICs) are at high risk of debt distress or already experiencing it.

The report was released ahead of the July session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), on 27 June 2024. It is one of several SDG assessments released each year in the lead-up to the HLPF. The UN Secretary-General’s SDG progress report and the Sustainable Development Report by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) will also inform HLPF deliberations in July. [Publication: The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2024] [Key Messages] [Key Findings] [Publication Landing Page] [DESA Press Release]