Ending poverty and achieving sustainable development by 2030

Nalma village, Nepal. Mokhamad Edliadi, CIFOR
27 November 2018

Goal: Ending poverty in all forms while tackling climate change and preserving oceans and forests by 2030

Origin story: The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the ‘2030 Agenda,’ were adopted in 2015 unanimously by all 193 member states of the United Nations. It was launched at a ceremony following speeches from Pope Francis and Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai and performances from Shakira and Angelique Kidjo. The SDGs build on the eight Millennium Development Goals, which were in place from 2000 to 2015 and criticized for focusing only on developing countries. The SDGs apply to all countries.

The break-down: There are 17 SDGs with 169 targets therein, tracked by 232 indicators of progress. Goal 1 on ending poverty is the first and foremost, a thread that runs through every other goal. The 17 goals are:

1. No poverty
2. Zero hunger
3. Good health and well-being
4. Quality education
5. Gender equality
6. Clean water and sanitation
7. Affordable and clean energy
8. Decent work and economic growth
9. Industry, innovation and infrastructure
10. Reduced inequalities
11. Sustainable cities and communities
12. Responsible consumption and production
13. Climate action
14. Life below water
15. Life on land
16. Peace, justice and strong institutions
17. Partnerships for the goals

Among the other commitments: It is widely viewed that all other commitments tie into to the SDGs, explicitly or implicitly. Yet, while the SDGs are likely the most commonly referenced commitment, research has found that only 1 in 10 Europeans knows about the SDGs, and 1 in 100 across sample of 24 countries.

About the money: While the SDGs are indirectly supported through the funding of other commitments, the UN launched the Sustainable Development Goals Fund (SDG Fund) in 2014 to bring together donors and all types of institutions – from academia to business – to implement SDG programs. SDG Fund programs are currently operating in 23 countries.

Progress reports: The SDG Tracker was first launched in February 2018, followed by an updated version in June. It was developed by Oxford University’s Our World in Data  program and is fed by regional, national and global data. A related chart also shows what data is and isn’t availability, to ensure the tracker’s full transparency.

Expert: Esteban Ortiz Ospina, Senior Researcher, Our World in Data

On successes so far
“SDG 1 aims to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030. Extreme poverty rates have fallen by more than half since 1990. While this is obviously a great achievement, it remains true that one-in-ten people globally still live in extreme poverty. The latest available estimates from the World Bank show that the decline in poverty rates has slowed – and this obviously raises concerns about achieving the goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030.

“In general, the SDGs are very ambitious. For example, Target 5.5 is to ‘Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life.’ There has been an improvement in terms of the proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments; but there is still a long way to go to ensure full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership.

“Something similar happens with other goals where we have seen some progress. Consider for example indicator 4.5.1, which deals with disparities in educational access. We have seen a reduction in gender gaps in enrolment rates. But gaps along other dimensions remain significant.”

On challenges
“In terms of major challenges, the world is failing most miserably in the environmental targets. The global evidence shows that many key environmental indicators are stagnant or in many cases actually regressing. Global carbon dioxide emissions are still increasing. Global forest area continues its decline. Overexploitation of fish stocks remains high and may still be increasing. And the Red List Index concludes that ‘a substantial proportion of species in all taxonomic groups examined to date are declining overall in population and distribution.’ ”