Only 17% targets to improve global life can be achieved by 2030: UN

The United Nations warned on Friday that only 17% of its 169 targets aimed at improving life for over 7 billion people globally are on track to be achieved by the 2030 deadline. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, in presenting the annual report, stated, “It shows the world is getting a failing grade.”

In 2015, world leaders set 17 comprehensive development goals, which range from eradicating global poverty to achieving gender equality, with 169 specific targets to be met by the end of the decade. The report reveals that nearly half of these targets exhibit minimal or moderate progress, over a third are stalled or regressing, and only 17% are on track to be realized.

Guterres emphasized, “Our failure to secure peace, to confront climate change, and to boost international finance is undermining development.” The report also highlighted the lingering impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, noting that an additional 23 million people fell into extreme poverty and over 100 million more experienced hunger in 2022 compared to 2019.

“In a world of unprecedented wealth, knowledge, and technologies, the denial of basic needs for so many is outrageous and unacceptable,” Guterres stated.

The report also noted that, for the first time this century, per-capita GDP growth in half of the world’s most vulnerable nations is slower than in advanced economies, threatening progress in equality. Nearly 60% of countries experienced moderate to abnormally high food prices in 2022.

The goal of quality education is significantly off track, with only 58% of students globally achieving minimum proficiency in reading by the end of primary school. Recent assessments indicate a notable decline in math and reading scores in many countries. Regarding gender equality, the report found that progress is still lagging: one in five girls marry before age 18, violence against women remains pervasive, many women lack rights over their sexual and reproductive health, and at the current pace, gender parity in management positions will take 176 years.

Guterres did highlight some positive developments. Mobile broadband now reaches 95% of the world’s population, up from 78% in 2015. The global capacity to generate electricity from renewable sources has been increasing at an unprecedented rate of 8.1% annually over the past five years. Access to treatment has prevented 20.8 million AIDS-related deaths in the past three decades. New malaria vaccines could save millions of lives, girls are achieving educational parity with boys in most regions, and many women are breaking glass ceilings.

However, Guterres noted that “the speed and scale of the change needed for sustainable development is still far too slow.” He urged action to end conflicts from Gaza to Ukraine and Sudan, and to shift spending from war to investing in people and peace.

He also called for greater efforts to combat climate change and advance the “green and digital transitions.” The report indicates a $4 trillion annual gap in the investments needed for developing countries to achieve sustainable development goals.

Guterres urged increased efforts to deliver the necessary resources, reduce debt pressures and servicing costs, expand access to contingency financing for countries at risk of a cash flow crisis, and boost the lending capacity of the World Bank and other development banks. “We must not let up on our promises — to end poverty, protect the planet and leave no one behind,” he concluded.

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