Fri. Jul 19th, 2019

Are we truly making progress on the SDGs?

In 2015, United Nations member states, along with civil society and enterprise, got here collectively to organize a blueprint to realize a greater and extra sustainable future for all by 2030. The Sustainable Growth Objectives (SDGs) define 17 areas the place we have to make a collective effort and supply a helpful sustainability framework for enterprise and different actors. We have now a decade till the 2030 deadline and companies are more and more committing to the targets in a public manner.

Whereas there are indicators of progress, GlobeScan and SustainAbility’s current SDG Progress Report reveals that sustainability consultants proceed to view progress on sustainable growth as largely insufficient, and fee poorly companies’ contribution to advancing the targets. Greater than 450 sustainability professionals from North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Latin America and Africa responded to the survey, and the ensuing report attracts comparisons between present findings and information collected two years in the past on the identical matter.

Outcomes point out a long-term development towards much less negativity amongst consultants on sustainability progress general. The proportion score society’s progress on sustainable growth as “poor” has declined considerably in comparison with when this query was first requested in 2005. At the moment, as many as 84 p.c of sustainability professionals surveyed rated progress as “poor”; this proportion is all the way down to fewer than half (49 p.c).

When sustainability consultants had been requested about society’s progress on particular person targets, the proportions saying progress has been “good” additionally elevated barely throughout most targets, in comparison with when consultants had been requested the identical query two years in the past. Whereas this means we’re seeing some progress throughout most targets, consultants are nonetheless way more prone to fee progress on every objective as destructive than optimistic, exhibiting we nonetheless have a protracted technique to go.


Purpose No. 17, Partnership for the Objectives, is the place progress appears to be strongest. Whereas the proportion of consultants viewing optimistic progress on Purpose No. 17 shouldn’t be massive, this quantity has doubled since 2017, suggesting that exercise on this space is turning into more and more acknowledged. Companies ought to construct on this momentum, persevering with and rising collaborative efforts to contribute to the targets.

Collaboration can also be highlighted by many consultants in our examine as being essential for driving progress on the SDGs. When requested to share their recommendation about how society could make the best progress towards the SDGs between now and 2030, respondents supplied feedback akin to “Partnership and collaboration is vital. Multi-stakeholder initiatives must be one of many main actions to realize SDGs” (Educational sector skilled, Thailand) and “Work collaboratively, not competitively with all stakeholders together with rivals to deal with particular points” (NGO skilled, Australia).

When requested to share recommendation about how society could make progress towards the SDGs between now and 2030, respondents supplied feedback akin to ‘Partnership and collaboration is vital.’

There additionally has been optimistic motion on perceptions of the work performed on High quality Schooling (No. four), Gender Equality (Purpose No. 5) and Respectable Work and Financial Progress (No. eight), specifically. In distinction, Lowered Inequalities (No. 10), Life Beneath Water (No. 14) and Life on Land (No. 15) stay on the backside of the checklist by way of optimistic progress, with no perceived improve in comparison with 2017. That mirrors new findings from a United Nations group reporting that the speed that species are going extinct is accelerating to unprecedented ranges.

The SDG Progress Report additionally explores consultants’ views of the relative urgency of the targets, and there may be overwhelming settlement that Local weather Motion (No. 13) is the one SDG that requires probably the most pressing consideration. Consultants throughout nearly all areas and sectors agree that Local weather Motion is probably the most pressing objective, besides these primarily based in Africa / Center East who’re barely extra prone to level to No Poverty (No. 1) as a precedence. Accountable Consumption and Manufacturing (No. 12) additionally stands out as notably pressing, in keeping with consultants surveyed.

Nevertheless, when the relative urgency of every SDG is in comparison with relative momentum on the identical, we are able to see that we have now achieved the least progress on exactly the targets that consultants take into account to be a very powerful — specifically that of Local weather Motion, but additionally Accountable Consumption and Manufacturing and Life on Land. On the similar time, progress is deemed strongest on the targets perceived as comparatively much less pressing, akin to Partnerships for the Objectives, and Business, Innovation and Infrastructure (No. 9).

When assessing the totally different societal actors’ contributions to the SDGs, NGOs, social entrepreneurs and the United Nations proceed to be seen by consultants as driving probably the most progress. Perceptions of their work on this space have improved since 2017, reflecting bettering perceptions of the work performed to advance the targets. Though the proportion who consider that the non-public sector is doing job contributing to the SDGs additionally has elevated barely in comparison with two years in the past, nearly half of sustainability consultants surveyed nonetheless say that the non-public sector is performing poorly.

Whereas enterprise shouldn’t be seen as negatively as nationwide governments or traders, consultants’ perceptions of the non-public sector nonetheless lag far behind NGOs, social entrepreneurs and the United Nations. Firms might do nicely to collaborate with these actors with the intention to obtain stronger and extra acknowledged outcomes on the SDGs.

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