SDGs in the balance

As the SDGs approach their midpoint, progress has stalled. The COVID-19 pandemic has especially impacted socio-economic goals SDG 1 (no poverty) and SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth). There is fragility on all fronts: society, economy, climate, and environment. There needs to be a strong political commitment to build protection based on the SDGs – a commitment that is currently lacking.

  1. In the balance

    Humanity’s failure to learn and adapt from repeated crises does not bode well for the bold, transformational changes that must happen urgently if we’re to achieve the world promised by the SDGs. There will be no second chance

    Fred Carver

Protecting society

  1. Protecting open societies

    Over the last decade, numerous democracies have been eroded and populist leaders have dismantled the protections against authoritarianism. We need urgent action – at local, country, and international levels – to ensure that societies achieve equitable and sustainable development for all people everywhere

    Natalie Samarasinghe
  2. Peacemaking 2.0: Conflict resolution after Russia’s war on Ukraine

    If confidence was waning in post-Cold War international peacemaking mechanisms, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has diminished it still further. While this “standard” toolkit of the last three decades still has a role to play, the grim risk of future wars means we must establish more effective multilateral mechanisms to prevent and resolve conflict

    Richard Gowan
  3. Tackling illicit financial flows

    Recent attempts to place sanctions on Russia illustrate how easily illicit financial flows are concealed on a massive scale. With trillions diverted from critical development projects each year, jeopardizing many of the SDGs, the world has an urgent and moral duty to expose and stanch the movement of these ill-gotten gains

    Justyna Gudzowska
  4. Funding those with the greatest need

    Global development finance has been thrown into disarray – first by the pandemic and now the war in Ukraine. Ramping up finance flows to LDCs in the short term might appear unrealistic, but it is more essential than ever if we’re to avoid even greater catastrophes ahead

    Estherine Lisinge-Fotabong
  5. What COVID-19 teaches us about public health

    The pandemic was the ultimate stress-test for the global health system, revealing both flaws and capabilities. We must build this new knowledge into health systems if we’re to achieve good health and well-being for all

    K. Srinath Reddy

    SDGs: 3

  6. Towards a women-centered push for Agenda 2030

    If progress on empowering women and girls was already far too slow, COVID and the war in Ukraine have made entrenched gender inequalities even worse. We must urgently ramp up our support for women and girls across all spheres of development, or the SDGs are doomed to fail

    Sima Bahous
  7. Developing a humane response to displaced people

    Climate change, the threat of famine, and conflicts are driving more people than ever from their homelands. While the international community’s response to the Ukraine refugee crisis has been notable for its scale, solidarity, and humanity, there is still much work to do to ensure a fair and humane asylum system for all

    Harlem Désir
  8. Protecting society: further articles

    Where freedom of speech flourishes, so does misinformation. Striking the right balance in managing online spaces is critical for healthy democracies, public safety, and achieving the SDGs. Paulo Gerbaudo writes about information wars.

    If left unchecked, the forces creating inequality will become even more destructive as the climate crisis starts to bite, threatening all of Agenda 2030. Alainna Lynch on the dangers of inequality and how to confront them.

Sustainable economy

  1. Toward a more natural cityscape

    After nearly a century of believing that engineering solutions could conquer nature to make cities productive and efficient centers of socio-economic development, some urban planners now realize that nature is something to design with, not against. But how do we invite nature back in when cities have been built to keep nature out?

    Bambang Susantono
  2. Solving energy poverty: power beyond the grid

    Off-grid and mini-grid electricity generation can bring immediate benefits across the SDGs. They offer a least-cost approach to electrification, yet investment in them remains limited. What needs to happen to ensure these technologies play their full part in tackling energy poverty?

    Damilola Ogunbiyi
  3. Developing the infrastructure to distribute low-carbon energy

    Conversations on energy transition tend to focus on renewable generation or the end-user. However, too often, the complex systems that are required to connect the two are neglected. Relying on ‘the market’ to develop solutions risks being too slow and inequitable. Governments need to get their heads round the radical changes that must be made to create resilient, sustainable energy networks – it is down to governments to drive the energy transition forward

    Keith Bell

Securing the planet

  1. We need an ambitious global plan to reverse nature loss

    In 2022 we should aspire to a Paris-style agreement on restoring biodiversity. Ambition alone, articulated in several published pledges, is not enough: governments must now commit to a strengthened Global Biodiversity Framework that compels them to take meaningful action

    Marco Lambertini
  2. Combating plastic pollution needs all hands on deck

    Plastic waste is at crisis point, causing untold harm to wildlife and poisoning food chains. A new plastics treaty could help turn the tide and avoid irreversible damage to species and ecosystems – countries must take bold action now

    Susan Gardner
  3. Cleaning up the air

    Air pollution is killing an estimated seven million people per year, causing environmental damage and climate change. Taking bold action now on black carbon, methane, and other short-lived pollutants, using existing, affordable technologies, can help us achieve 1.5°C and improve well-being for all

    Martina Otto
  4. Biodiversity: The canary in the mine

    Human activity is destroying life on Earth on an unprecedented scale. We must urgently and radically re-evaluate nature in our economic thinking and actions, or risk our own species’ survival

    John Podesta
  5. The ocean, climate’s regulator

    Restoring the ocean’s health is vital to achieving many of the SDGs, as humankind will need the ocean to provide more food, energy, and jobs. Perhaps less well understood – but critical for our survival – is the vital role a healthy ocean will play in SDG 13: tackling climate change

    Katherine Richardson