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Climate change, COVID-19 and war in Ukraine impacts hindering SDGs says new report



The impacts of climate change, the war in Ukraine, a weak global economy, and the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have revealed weaknesses and hindered progress towards the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) a new report says.

The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2023: Special Edition report further warns that while lack of progress is universal, it is the world’s poorest and most vulnerable who are experiencing the worst effects of these unprecedented global challenges.

It also points out areas that need urgent action to rescue the SDGs and deliver meaningful progress for people and the planet by 2030.The report provides a powerful call to action, presenting a candid assessment of the SDGs based on the latest data and estimates.

While highlighting the existing gaps and urging the world to redouble its efforts, the report also emphasizes the immense potential for success through strong political will and the utilization of available technologies, resources, and knowledge. Together, the global community can reignite progress towards achieving the SDGs and create a brighter future for all.

According to UN Secretary General António Guterres, says the SDGs report shows that progress on more than 50 per cent of targets of the SDGs is weak and insufficient; on 30 per cent, it has stalled or gone into reverse.

“Halfway to the deadline for the 2030 Agenda, the SDG Progress Report; Special Edition shows we are leaving more than half the world behind,” Mr Guterres,says in a foreward of the report adding the affected SDGs include key targets on poverty, hunger and climate.


“Unless we act now, the 2030 Agenda could become an epitaph for a world that might have been. The COVID-19 pandemic and the triple crises of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution are having a devastating and lasting impact,” he said.

The UN Chief said this has been amplified by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has driven increases in the prices of food and energy and in the cost of access to finance, creating a global cost-of-living crisis affecting billions of people.

“Developing countries are bearing the brunt of our collective failure to invest in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” he notes.

Mr Guterres  said many countries face a huge financing gap and are buried under a mountain of debt adding that one in three countries is at high risk of being unable to service their debt.  He noted that developed countries adopted expansionary fiscal and monetary policies during the pandemic and have largely returned to pre-pandemic growth paths.

He said developing countries were unable to do so, in part because of the risk that their currencies would collapse.

“Flows of Official Development Assistance are far below the long-standing commitment of 0.7 per cent of GNI. And the financial markets routinely charge developing countries interest rates up to eight times higher than developed countries,” he stressed.

Mr Guterres  said climate finance is also far below commitments and developed countries have not delivered the $100 billion that was promised annually from 2020, while, vulnerable Middle-Income countries are denied debt relief and concessional financing, and the G20’s Common Framework for Debt Treatment is simply not working.


The SDGs are the universally-agreed road map to bridge economic and geopolitical divides, restore trust and rebuild solidarity. Failure to make progress means inequalities will continue to deepen, increasing the risk of a fragmented, two-speed world.

“No country can afford to see the 2030 Agenda fail. This report sounds the alarm, calling for a Rescue Plan for People and Planet. I hope the SDG Summit in September will agree to back this Rescue Plan, based on a global alliance for SDG action and acceleration by all stakeholders,” the UN boss emphasised.

He said the international community must move forward on the proposed SDG Stimulus, to scale up affordable long-term financing for all countries in need.

The SDG Stimulus has three areas for action: a massive surge in finance for development, enabled by a transformation in the business model of Multilateral Development Banks; a new initiative on debt, under which short-term debt could be exchanged for longer-term instruments at lower interest rates; and the expansion of contingency financing to all countries in need.

It can be achieved under the current rules and will enable immediate investments in basic services, clean energy and the digital transition.

“But to deal with the root causes of this dire situation, we need deep reform of our outdated, dysfunctional and unfair international financial architecture. We urgently need financial institutions that are fit for purpose; that ensure the benefits of globalization flow to all; and that deliver on their mandate by providing a safety net for all countries in troubled times,” Mr Guterres  said.

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