The Sustainable Development Goals Report

2518-3958 (online)
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On 1 January 2016, the world officially began the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – the transformative plan of action based on 17 Sustainable Development Goals – to address urgent global challenges over the next 15 years. With the aim to offer an accurate evaluation of where the world stands in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, the Sustainable Development Goals Report presents an overview of the 17 goals based on a proposed global indicator framework, using data provided by the United Nations and other international agencies. The data and analysis provided in the report highlight the most significant gaps and challenges, so that steps can be taken to reverse these trends.

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The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2017

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17 July 2017
9789213617151 (PDF)

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The aim of this report is to present an overview of the 17 Goals using data currently available to highlight the most significant gaps and challenges. The latest data show that one eighth of humankind still lives in extreme poverty and that 800 million people suffer from hunger, and that water scarcity affects more than a quarter of humanity. These statistics show how important coordinated global data-generation efforts are in supplying reliable and timely data for systematic follow-up and progress reviews.

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  • Foreword

    In adopting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, world leaders resolved to free humanity from poverty, secure a healthy planet for future generations, and build peaceful, inclusive societies as a foundation for ensuring lives of dignity for all.

  • Overview

    The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2017 reviews progress made towards the 17 Goals in the second year of implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The report is based on the latest available data. It highlights both gains and challenges as the international community moves towards full realization of the ambitions and principles espoused in the 2030 Agenda.

  • Harnessing the power of data for sustainable development

    To fully implement and monitor progress on the SDGs, decision makers need data and statistics that are accurate, timely, sufficiently disaggregated, relevant, accessible and easy to use. Data availability and quality have steadily improved over the years. However, statistical capacity still needs strengthening and data literacy must be enhanced at all levels of decision-making. This will require coordinated efforts on the part of data producers and users from multiple data systems. It will also demand innovative ways to produce and apply data and statistics in addressing the multifaceted challenges of sustainable development.

  • No poverty

    Giving people in every part of the world the support they need to lift themselves out of poverty in all its manifestations is the very essence of sustainable development. Goal 1 focuses on ending poverty through interrelated strategies, including the promotion of social protection systems, decent employment and the resilience of the poor. Although the global rate of extreme poverty has been reduced by more than half since 2000, intensified efforts are required to boost the incomes, alleviate the suffering and build the resilience of those still impoverished, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. Social protection systems need to be expanded and risks mitigated for disaster-prone countries, which tend to be among the world’s poorest countries.

  • Zero hunger

    Goal 2 addresses a fundamental human need—access to nutritious, healthy food—and the means by which it can be sustainably secured for everyone. Tackling hunger cannot be addressed solely by increasing food production. Well-functioning markets, increased incomes for smallholder farmers, equal access to technology and land, and additional investments all play a role in creating a vibrant and productive agricultural sector that builds food security.

  • Good health and well-being

    Over the past 15 years, reproductive, maternal and child health have improved greatly. The incidence of communicable diseases has declined, as have premature deaths from non-communicable diseases. Health services have been upgraded through better maternal and reproductive care, targeted disease elimination and control programmes, including broader treatment and vaccination coverage, and increased funding to support medical research and basic health in developing countries. To meet the 2030 targets, however, these interventions need to be expanded, particularly in regions with the highest burden of disease.

  • Quality education

    Quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all are central to ensuring a full and productive life to all individuals and to the realization of sustainable development. Despite considerable progress in school enrolment, millions of children remain out of school, especially where educational systems struggle to keep up with population growth. Even when more children are enrolled, many do not acquire basic skills. Quality education is hampered by the lack of trained teachers and adequate school facilities. Achieving this Goal will require intensified efforts—particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia— targeted to vulnerable populations, specifically persons with disabilities, indigenous people, refugees and the rural poor

  • Gender equality

    Gender equality and women’s empowerment have advanced in recent decades. Progress in enrolment at all education levels has been observed, yet wide gender disparities exist in some regions and countries at higher education levels. Maternal mortality has declined and skilled care during delivery has increased. Progress has been made in the area of sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights. Childbearing among adolescents has decreased. However, gender inequality persists worldwide, depriving women and girls of their basic rights and opportunities. Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls will require more vigorous efforts, including legal frameworks, to counter deeply rooted gender-based discrimination that often results from patriarchal attitudes and related social norms.

  • Clean water and sanitation

    Sustainable water resources are essential to human health, environmental sustainability and economic prosperity. This vital resource is under threat, making it crucial to address the challenges related to water, sanitation and hygiene for populations and water-related ecosystems. Currently, more than 2 billion people are affected by water stress, which will only increase with population growth and the effects of climate change. Achieving universal access to drinking water, sanitation and hygiene and ensuring that services are safely managed remain major challenges, and meeting them is crucial to further progress in health, education and poverty eradication.

  • Affordable and clean energy

    Universal access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy services requires expanding access to electricity and clean cooking fuels and technologies, as well as improving energy efficiency and increasing the share of renewable energy. However, progress in all these areas falls short of what is needed to achieve the Goal by 2030. Increased financing and bolder policies are required, along with the willingness of countries to embrace new technologies on a much more ambitious scale.

  • Decent work and economic growth

    Sustained and inclusive economic growth drives development by providing more resources for education, health, personal consumption, and transport, water and energy infrastructure. Economic growth can also lead to new and better employment opportunities. Sustaining high real economic growth is not easy, however, and only a few of the least developed countries have consistently closed in on the 7 per cent average annual growth target for real GDP. Moreover, economic growth is not necessarily sustainable when countries are depleting their natural resources for the sake of economic growth and thus shifting the burden of environmental degradation and damage to future generations.

  • Industry, innovation and infrastructure

    Investing in infrastructure, promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and supporting technological development, research and innovation are three driving forces for economic growth and sustainable development. These drivers can help countries reduce poverty by creating job opportunities, stimulating growth, and encouraging the building and improvement of physical facilities that are essential to the functioning of business and society. In recent years, steady improvements have been made in all three of these areas of sustainable development. However, renewed investment will be needed in the least developed countries (LDCs) to build infrastructure and ensure the doubling of industry’s share of GDP in those countries by 2030.

  • Reduced inequalities

    Progress in reducing inequality within and among countries has been mixed. Income inequality has declined in many of the countries that experienced sustained economic growth, while increasing in countries with negative growth. Meanwhile, the voices of developing countries in international economic and financial decision-making still need to be strengthened. And, while remittances can be a lifeline for families and communities in the home countries of international migrant workers, the high cost of transferring money continues to diminish the benefits.

  • Sustainable cities and communities

    The pace of urban growth has been unprecedented. Around the turn of the century, for the first time in history, urban dwellers outnumbered their rural counterparts, and by 2015, nearly 4 billion people—54 per cent of the world’s population—lived in cities. That number is projected to reach 5 billion by 2030. Rapid urbanization brings enormous challenges, including growing numbers of slum dwellers, increased air pollution, inadequate basic services and infrastructure, and unplanned urban sprawl— which also make cities more vulnerable to disasters. With sound urban planning and management, however, the world’s urban spaces can become inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable, as well as dynamic hubs of innovation and enterprise.

  • Responsible consumption and production

    Consumption and production patterns shape resource use management and related social and environmental impacts, thereby affecting sustainability. Sustainable production uses fewer resources for the same value of economic output, and sustainable consumption reduces the need for excessive resource extraction. Over the first decade of this century, however, the material footprint, which measures the amount of raw material extracted to meet consumption demand, increased globally, as did the amount of material used in production processes. Achieving this Goal requires strong national frameworks for sustainable consumption and production that are integrated into national and sectoral plans, along with sustainable business practices and consumer behaviour. Finally, it requires adherence to international norms related to hazardous chemicals and wastes.

  • Climate action

    Climate change is already having a profound and alarming impact worldwide. Global temperatures continued to increase in 2016, setting a new record of about 1.1 degrees centigrade above the pre-industrial period. The extent of global sea ice fell to 4.14 million square kilometres in 2016, the second lowest on record. Atmospheric CO2 levels reached 400 parts per million. Drought conditions predominated across much of the globe, influenced by the El Niño phenomenon. In addition to rising sea levels and global temperatures, extreme weather events are becoming more common and natural habitats such as coral reefs are declining. These changes affect people everywhere, but disproportionately harm the poorest and the most vulnerable. Concerted action is urgently needed to stem climate change and strengthen resilience to pervasive and ever-increasing climaterelated hazards.

  • Life below water

    Oceans cover almost three quarters of the planet, comprising the largest ecosystem on Earth. Large coastal populations in every region depend on them for their livelihoods and prosperity. Oceans also provide priceless environmental services: they generate half the oxygen we breathe, support a wealth of marine resources and act as a climate regulator. Yet despite their critical importance, the mounting impacts of climate change (including ocean acidification), overfishing and marine pollution are jeopardizing progress in protecting the world’s oceans. Small island developing States are the most threatened. Due to the transboundary nature of oceans, marine resource management requires interventions at all levels (national, regional and global) to mitigate threats.

  • Life on land

    Protected and restored ecosystems and the biodiversity they support can help mitigate climate change and provide increased resilience in the face of increased human pressures and mounting disasters. Healthy ecosystems also produce multiple benefits for all communities: clean air, water, food, raw materials and medicines, to name a few. To date, progress in preserving and sustainably using terrestrial ecosystems and protecting biodiversity has been uneven. The pace of forest loss has slowed, and improvements continue to be made in managing forests sustainably and safeguarding areas important for biodiversity. That said, accelerating biodiversity loss, along with continued poaching and trafficking of wildlife, is alarming. Moreover, from 1998 to 2013, about one fifth of the Earth’s land surface covered by vegetation showed persistently declining trends in productivity. Soil and land degradation undermines the security and development of all countries.

  • Peace, justice and strong institutions

    Progress in promoting peace and justice, and in building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions remains uneven across and within regions. Homicides are slowly declining, and more citizens around the world have better access to justice. However, violent conflicts have increased in recent years, and a number of high-intensity armed conflicts are causing large numbers of civilian casualties and driving millions of people from their homes. Disparities abound: data show that countries with higher income inequality suffer from higher levels of violence. Poorer countries and regions tend to be sources of victims for human traffickers and are more prone to corruption. In response, legal frameworks and institutions are being put in place— for example, on access to information and human rights promotion—but implementation does not always follow suit.

  • Partnerships for the Goals

    A stronger commitment to partnership and cooperation is needed to achieve the SDGs. Attaining the Goals will require coherent policies, an enabling environment for sustainable development at all levels and by all actors, and a reinvigorated Global Partnership for Sustainable Development. Towards this end, United Nations Member States have identified the following areas as critical: resource mobilization, technology, capacitybuilding, trade, policy and institutional coherence, multistakeholder partnerships, and data, monitoring and accountability. Meeting the means of implementation targets is key to realizing the Agenda for Sustainable Development, as is the full implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. Incremental progress has been made in these areas, but more is needed.

  • A note to the reader
  • Regional groupings

    This report presents data on progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals for the world as a whole and for various groups. The country groupings are based on the geographic regions defined under the Standard Country or Area Codes for Statistical Use (known as M49) of the United Nations Statistics Division. The geographic regions are shown on the map above. For the purpose of presentation, some of the M49 regions have been combined.

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