Global Sustainable Development Report 2023
With the world off course in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), action is needed. The Global Sustainable Development Report 2023 calls for transformational shifts rooted in science that would rapidly reverse course and turbocharge the SDGs. With this in mind, the report is entitled “Times of crisis, times of change: Science for accelerating transformations to sustainable development”. It was published by the United Nations in September 2023.
At this critical juncture, midway to 2030, it is clear that incremental and fragmented change will be insufficient to achieve all 17 SDGs in the remaining seven years, or even by 2050. Strategic, whole-of-society transformations are needed. And this must be achieved globally – leaving no country, society or person behind.
Of 36 targets reviewed in the report, only two are on track to be achieved, while progress on eight is slowing. Before the pandemic, implementation was sluggish and even regressing in some areas like climate action, biodiversity loss and inequality. There have now also been significant setbacks in poverty eradication, gender equality, education and the elimination of hunger.
Interconnected and systemic approach will be key
Science must play a major role in advancing sustainable development. It provides evidence and support for the emergence of innovations and the dismantling of negative pathways and paradigms. The report calls on universities, policymakers and research funders to increase support to research that is guided by the 2030 Agenda, especially in the Global South. To be meaningful, science needs to be transparent, inclusive and transdisciplinary: it must be produced in a range of contexts by diverse and multidisciplinary groups engaging all possible actors, including youth.
The report provides new evidence that understanding the interconnections between individual goals will be essential. Decision-makers must devise policies that manage difficult trade-offs and avoid international spill overs – for example, rising carbon emissions in one country due to the production of goods consumed in another.
SDG Transformation Framework for Accelerated Action
The paper also provides detailed guidance on how different societal actors can shape transformations for sustainable development and actively accelerate progress. Interventions in certain areas – such as sustainable food systems, human well-being, and energy decarbonisation and universal access – can have systemic effects.
It calls for the establishment of an SDG Transformation Framework for Accelerated Action by 2024 that brings together local action and international cooperation in a way that accounts for differing contexts, needs, aspirations and capabilities. The authors urge countries to develop national plans for coordinated SDG action. Local governments, businesses and industry associations, and institutional investors should also develop similar plans. Partnerships between all parts of society are needed to achieve the goals.
Read more and download the report