The yearly report of the UN Secretary-General on progress towards the 17 SDGs has been released ahead of the 2020 session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), according to a press release published recently on https://sdg.iisd.org/.
The report presents the latest available data on the indicators contained in the global SDG indicator framework as of April 2020. While focusing on the goals as we know them, it also highlights implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on each SDG.
One of the main findings is that progress is stalled or reversed on inequalities, the rate of climate change, and the number of people going hungry.
Sustainable Development Goal 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries
Despite some positive signs toward reducing inequality in some dimensions, such as reducing relative income inequality in some countries and preferential trade status benefiting lower income countries, inequality still persists in all forms.
The COVID-19 crisis is hitting the poorest and most vulnerable people hardest and threatens to have a particularly damaging impact on the poorest countries. It is laying bare the profound inequalities that exist within and among countries and is exacerbating these inequalities.
Sustainable Development Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
The year 2019 was the second warmest on record and the end of the warmest decade (2010-2019). In addition, with a global average temperature of 1.1°C above estimated pre-industrial levels, the global community is way off track to meeting either the 1.5°C or 2°C targets called for in the Paris Agreement.
Although greenhouse gas emissions are projected to drop 6% in 2020 and air quality has improved due to travel bans and economic slowdown resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, this improvement is only temporary. Governments and businesses should utilize the lessons learnt to accelerate transitions needed to achieve the Paris Agreement, re-define the relationship with the environment, and make systemic shifts and transformational changes to low-GHG emission and climate-resilient economies and societies.
Sustainable Development Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
The total number of people suffering from severe food insecurity is on the rise since 2015 and there are still millions of malnourished children. The economic slowdowns and disruptions in the food value chains caused by the pandemic is exacerbating hunger and food insecurity. In addition, the Desert Locust upsurge remains alarming in East Africa and Yemen where 35 million people already experience acute food insecurity.
Due to the pandemic, some 370 million school children are missing the free school meals they rely on. Measures to strengthen food production and distribution systems must be taken immediately to mitigate and minimize the impacts of the pandemic.
In addition to the Secretary-General’s annual progress report, the UN also releases a ‘Sustainable Development Goals Report’ that reviews the year’s progress in implementing the 2030 Agenda, uses infographics to present findings, and provides in-depth analysis of selected indicators. The two yearly reports are among the inputs to the HLPF session held each July.
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