Sustainable Development Goals

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Even as pandemic erases decades of gains in development, response efforts show signs of renewed global commitment to accelerate SDG progress

More countries and communities are recognizing the need to bolster efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in light of the toll the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on people around the world according to The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2021, released by the United Nations. 

The decisions and actions taken during the next 18 months will determine whether pandemic recovery plans will put the world on a course to reach the globally agreed-upon goals that aim to boost economic growth and social well-being while protecting the environment.

Some additional key facts and figures:

  • The global extreme poverty rate rose for the first time since 1998, from 8.4% in 2019 to 9.5% in 2020.
  • Between 1 February and 31 December 2020, Governments around the world announced more than 1,600 social protection measures, mostly short-term, in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Pandemic-related shocks are likely to trigger a rise in stunting, which already affects more than one in five children.
  • The pandemic has halted or reversed progress in health and poses major threats beyond the disease itself. About 90% of countries are still reporting one or more disruptions to essential health services.
  • The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on schooling is a ‘generational catastrophe.’ An additional 101 million children and youth fell below the minimum reading proficiency level, wiping out the education gains achieved over the last two decades.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has adversely affected progress towards gender equality: violence against women and girls has intensified; child marriage is expected to increase; and women have suffered a disproportionate share of job losses and increased care work at home.
  • 759 million people remained without electricity and one third of the global population lacked clean cooking fuels and technologies in 2019.
  • An economic recovery is under way, led by China and the United States, but for many other countries, economic growth is not expected to return to pre-pandemic levels before 2022 or 2023.
  • The world fell short on 2020 targets to halt biodiversity loss and 10 million hectares of forest being lost each year between 2015-2020.
  • While net official development assistance increased in 2020 to a total of $161 billion, this still falls well short of what is needed to respond to the COVID-19 crisis and to meet the long-established target of 0.7% of GNI.
  • In 2020, 132 countries and territories reported that they were implementing a national statistical plan, with 84 having plans that were fully funded. Only 4 out of the 46 LDCs reported having fully funded national statistical plans.
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World leaders committed themselves to ending poverty, combating climate change and fighting injustice at an historic UN summit in New York in September 2015. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development offers a better future for billions of people around the world and for our planet as a whole.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which were unanimously adopted by 193 countries, set a new universal standard for development which aims to ensure that no one is left behind. The targets and indicators behind the goals provide a benchmark for measuring success.

Universal and indivisible, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development calls for action by all countries - developed and developing countries - as well as all people to end poverty, address inequalities and tackle climate change by 2030.

The making of 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development