SDGs edition 2023: Promise in peril

The COVID-19 pandemic pushed back progress on the SDGs but also exposed fundamental flaws in the way countries and the global community have been approaching them. Inequalities have widened and the mantra ‘leave no one behind’ feels like a distant memory. We are halfway along the Agenda 2030 timeline – it is time to tackle the structural reforms that are needed to unlock the Goals.

  1. The SDGs are the means and the ends 

    At the halfway point of Agenda 2030, the SDGs are dangerously off course. Current world crises are both evidence of the lamentable lack of progress, and confirmation that the world needs the goals now more than ever

    Hugh Robinson

Rescue plan

  1. Fixing the global financial system

    In the words of the UN Secretary-General, developing countries have limited access to the financial resources they need to address the dramatic challenges they face and implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The global financial architecture, created for a very different world eight decades ago, needs urgent reform to make it fit for purpose

    Shari Spiegel
  2. Harnessing digital to rescue the SDGs 

    In this digital age, over two billion people worldwide still lack internet access. With progress on the SDGs way off course, we must ramp up access to, and application of, digital technologies – including AI – to get Agenda 2030 back on track

    Doreen Bogdan-Martin
  3. Accelerating action on gender equality

    Gender equality is critical to realizing all the SDGs, yet progress remains unacceptably slow. Humanity’s future demands that we urgently fix the multitudinous factors blocking women and girls from achieving their potential

    Sima Bahous
  4. Shaping the future world of work

    As the pace of societal change accelerates, many jobs considered essential today will become obsolete tomorrow. Creating resilience and adaptability, particularly among the world’s most vulnerable workers, is essential and requires a global, whole-of-society policy effort and investment

    Mia Seppo
  5. Repression of women is blocking the SDGs

    The “shadow pandemic” of violence against women and girls shows little sign of abating. Tackling this global scourge calls for far more effective joining up of individual measures, embedding gender equality throughout all 17 SDGs

    Reem Alsalem
  6. The SDGs need a strong and loud civil society

    The Global Goals represent a quest to achieve human rights for all. In the face of democratic backsliding and a global trend to restrict free speech, we must ensure that civil society remains an active force for their progress

    Kizito Byenkya, Chanu Peiris
  7. Protecting the right to water

    Access to safe drinking water and sanitation are established human rights. Yet, halfway through the Water Action Decade, billions of people are still denied them. This year, nations have pledged to drive transformation to a water-secure world, and must now urgently act on their promises

    Gilbert F. Houngbo
  8. Mobilizing business investment for the SDGs

    With just seven years to go, the SDGs remain severely underfunded, as cash-strapped governments worldwide struggle to resource them. Generating more private-sector investment that seizes the huge business potential of the Goals is therefore critical

    Sanda Ojiambo

HLPF themes:
SDG 6, clean water & sanitation;
SDG 7, affordable & clean energy

  1. Improving health outcomes through access to water

    At current progress rates, 1.6 billion people will lack safely managed drinking water by 2030. Ramping up financial and political investment in access to water, sanitation, and hygiene, particularly in the world’s poorest countries and in the face of climate change, is now essential for achieving the SDGs

    Bruce Gordon, Maria Neira
  2. Gender and sanitation: more than just a toilet

    Over a billion women and girls worldwide lack safe and adequate sanitation. Addressing this fundamental human right offers a unique chance to both address poor sanitation and foster gender equality

    Jess MacArthur
  3. The lack of gender targets for clean energy is harming women and girls

    Gender inequalities in energy access are substantial but largely unmeasured. SDG 7 – affordable and clean energy – is one of six SDGs without gender-specific indicators. Clean and safe energy is a prerequisite for achieving all the social and economic SDGs, and SDG 5 – gender equality – will only be achieved if a more targeted approach is adopted on energy

    Elizabeth Cecelski, Sheila Oparaocha

HLPF themes:
SDG 9, industry, innovation & infrastructure;
SDG 11, sustainable cities & communities

  1. Boosting technology transfer to support the SDGs in LDCs

    The world’s poorest countries have most to gain from tech like AI that can rapidly accelerate SDG action, but are often the least able to utilize such innovations. We need a global, cooperative effort to ensure that the technical tools and skills that humankind has developed are available to all

    Ciyong Zou, Marco Kamiya, Alla Metelitsa
  2. The role of bonds in transforming infrastructure for net-zero

    Massive investment is needed in infrastructure to achieve the transition to clean energy and create resilience against the impacts of global warming. The scale of investment – as much as $9 trillion per year – exceeds the capabilities of public finance and will rely on aligning private sector financing. Green or climate bonds seem an obvious instrument for the task – are they the killer solution?

    Sean Kidney

HLPF theme: SDG 17, partnerships for the goals