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Taking stock of progress at the halfway point for the Sustainable Development Goals

2030 is just around the corner.

At the halfway point in our 15-year challenge to transform our world, it’s clear that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are in trouble. We now know that too much of the progress made in earlier years was fragile. In the past few years, the COVID-19 pandemic, armed conflicts and climate-related disasters have wiped out advances on some SDGs, including Goal 1, eliminating extreme poverty.

Reality check

The UN Secretary-General’s special report on SDG progress shows that of the roughly 140 targets for which we have data, only about 15 percent are on track. Half have shown only weak progress since 2015, and 30 percent have stalled or worse, regressed. Released ahead of the 2023 SDG Summit, the report calls for a rescue plan for the Global Goals.

We need to step up if we are to make meaningful progress, and that starts with taking a hard look at where we are now and what needs to happen for us to get past the finish line. At the SDG Summit, the UN development system will rally support around 12 high impact initiatives aimed at bringing solutions to scale to supercharge the SDGs. UNDP is co-leading nine of them.

The future is hopeful

UNDP has reasons to be optimistic. As part of our ongoing SDG Push we worked with 90+ countries to produce Integrated SDG Insights reports. These provide a landscape of SDG trends and national priorities – and chart pathways that maximize the interlinkages – helping to drive more effective policies to achieve the Goals.

We’re also taking stock of how each of the 17 Goals is coming along at the global level, drawing on the UN Secretary-General’s report. The overall picture is sobering. But at each turn, there are stories that show what is possible when people come together and demonstrate profound commitment and courage to change.

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Leave no one behind

The midway progress report shows that we have a long way to go to meet the central organizing principle of the Sustainable Development Goals – Leave no one behind.

The lack of SDG progress is universal, but the Secretary-General’s report emphasized that developing countries and the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people are bearing the brunt of our collective failure. Compounding climate, COVID and economic injustices are leaving many developing countries with fewer options and less resources to make the SDGs a reality.

At the SDG Summit, world leaders have a chance to put us back on track to achieving long-term peace and prosperity for everyone, everywhere.

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