Measuring Distance to the SDG Targets

This report assesses the performance of OECD countries by looking at their current achievements, whether they have been moving towards or away from the targets, and how likely they are to meet their commitments by 2030.

OECD countries have met or are close to meeting only a quarter of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for which performance can be gauged, according to the report The Short and Winding Road to 2030: Measuring Distance to the SDG Targets, published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in late April 2022.

Nearly all OECD countries are already securing basic economic needs and implementing the policy tools and frameworks mentioned in the 2030 Agenda. But progress towards 21 targets on issues such as ensuring no one is left behind, restoring trust in institutions and limiting pressures on the natural environment are still way off track.

The report says that while OECD countries have eradicated extreme poverty, most of them need to do more to reduce deprivation more broadly. Women, young adults and migrants face greater challenges than the rest of the population, and despite some progress, women’s rights and opportunities are still limited in both private and public spheres. In addition, unhealthy behaviours which appear to be more common among low socio-economic groups, and disparities in education from early years of life, tend to exacerbate inequalities.

Environmental pressures are rising, the report states. Progress was made on many fronts including energy intensity, water use and municipal waste management. While some of these positive developments are attributable to policy action and technical progress, the displacement of resource- and pollution-intensive production abroad also explains some of this progress. The use of material resources to support economic growth remains high, and many valuable materials continue to be disposed of as waste.

On the climate front, despite progress achieved in decoupling greenhouse gas emissions from population and GDP growth, total emissions are hardly decreasing, and all OECD countries are continuing to support the production and consumption of fossil fuels. As for biodiversity, despite some encouraging developments in protecting ecosystems, threats to terrestrial and marine biodiversity have been rising. Without more determined action, biodiversity loss will continue.

The report nevertheless identifies a number of other areas where the distance that still remains to meet SDG targets is negligible or small. OECD countries are able to provide everyone with access to some basic amenities, including sanitation, fresh water and energy. OECD countries have also been able to reduce maternal and infant mortality, to afford access to early childhood education, to provide modern education facilities and a legal identity to all citizens.

(OECD/ile)

Read more and download the full report at OECD website

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