While the pandemic is a setback for sustainable development, the SDGs along with the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Climate Agreement provide the right compass for “building forward better”. Before the pandemic hit, significant progress had been achieved on the SDGs in many regions and on many goals – especially in East and South Asia, which has progressed more on the SDG Index than any other region since the goals’ adoption in 2015.
At the national level, Bangladesh, Côte d’Ivoire and Afghanistan have improved most on the SDG Index since 2015. Covid-19 should not lead to a prolonged reversal in SDG progress. International commitments, for instance towards climate neutrality, must be rapidly accompanied by transformative actions and investments. Large fiscal packages of major economies present an opportunity to foster a green, digital, and inclusive recovery.
Global challenges, including pandemics but also climate change and the biodiversity crisis, require a strong multilateral system. Damages to ecosystems and nature may lead to the emergence of other zoonotic diseases and pathogens; possibly with a much higher case fatality rate next time. Climate change has already led to a sharp rise in natural disasters, including droughts, typhoons, the impact of rising sea levels, and heat waves.
The digital revolution has moved many supply chains online but also increased the risk of widespread cyberattacks. No country can single handedly prevent, respond, and recover from these global shocks. Now more than ever, the multilateral system must be supported to work effectively. Strengthening preparedness, coordinated responses, and resilience to critical risks are key to supporting the Decade of Action for the SDGs launched by the UN Secretary-General in 2019.
Rich countries generate negative international spillovers that undermine other countries’ ability to achieve the SDGs. This year’s SDG Index is topped by three Nordic countries – Finland, Sweden, and Denmark – yet even these countries face major challenges in achieving several SDGs. The 2021 International Spillover Index included in this report underlines how rich countries can generate negative socioeconomic and environmental spillovers, including through unsustainable trade and supply chains. Tax havens and profit shifting in many rich countries undermine other countries’ ability to mobilise needed financial resources to achieve the SDGs. Various types of global tax reforms could significantly increase government revenue in developing countries.
Where does India stand on SDG achievements?
India does not have a very impressive report card here. The country ranks 120th, with an index score of 60.1. In comparision, Bangladesh is ranked 109 with an index score of 63.5. Cambodia is ranked 102, with a score of 64.5. Turkey ranks 70, with a score of 70.4. China is 57th with a score of 72.1. Vietnam is at 51, with a score of 72.8.
India needs to realise that poor achievement of SDGs impact not just the environment and lives of people, but also business.
A quick look at the goals, and where India stands:
- No poverty – Significant challenges remain, with moderate progress towards the SDG.
- Zero hunger: This is a major challenge with little progress made towards the goal.
- Good health and well being: Again a major challenge with moderate progress
- Quality education – This is a significant challenge, with a decrease in quality education over the years.
- Gender equality – A major challenge with no progress made towards the goal.
- Clean water and sanitation – This is a significant challenge but progress is on track
- Affordable and clean energy – Significant challenge with moderate progress.
- Decent work and economic growth – Significant challenge with moderate progress towards the goal.
- Industry innovation and infrastructure – Major challenge with moderate progress
- Reduced inequalities – Major challenge, but SDG goal achieved
- Sustainable cities and communities – Major challenge with no progress towards the goal
- Responsible consumption and production – Challenges remain but SDG achieved
- Climate action – SDG achievement on track
- Life below water – Major challenges with moderate progress
- Life on land – Major challenges, with negative progress
- Peace, justice and strong institutions – Major challenges with no progress
- Partnerships for the goals – Major challenges with no progress towards the goal.