The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations in 2015 have set an ambitious agenda for global development, aiming to address critical challenges facing humanity by 2030. Experts all over the world have examined the possibility of achieving the SDGs within the given timeframe.
On numerous occasions and different global stages, I have participated in the evaluation of progress made, identification of key obstacles, exploration of opportunities, and proposing of strategies to accelerate progress towards a sustainable future.
I feel that the realisation of the SDGs by 2030 is absolutely imperative for the well-being of our planet and its inhabitants. However, according to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, despite remarkable advances in the fight against poverty, inequality and disease, the job is not yet finished. Whereas progress is possible, it is not inevitable.
Last year, I attended the foundation’s Goalkeepers event in New York during the United Nations General Assembly. Led by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Goalkeepers was designed to inspire and incentivise thinkers and doers towards achieving the 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development. This and other global platforms have given me a unique lens to look at our progress as we approach 2030.
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To assess the progress made in achieving the SDGs, it is essential to analyse the advancements in each goal. While significant strides have been made in certain areas, there are persistent challenges that hinder overall progress. Efforts to eliminate poverty, ensure quality education, and promote gender equality have yielded positive results.
However, challenges such as climate change, environmental degradation, and economic inequalities remain significant barriers to achieving the SDGs. If we look at Ending Hunger, which is the second Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of the United Nations with its four country-specific targets to be achieved by 2030, we can easily measure country-level progress for a nation like Nigeria.
The goal seeks to end undernourishment, end malnutrition, double the agricultural productivity of small-scale producers, and ensure sustainable and resilient agricultural practices. Studies have shown that for almost each of the targets of the SDG2, there have been improvements over the past decade perhaps with the exception of the sustainability target. However, is it enough advancement to meet the 2030 target and leave no one behind? Let’s look at the key challenges.
Several obstacles pose challenges to the realisation of the SDGs. Socio-economic barriers and inequalities perpetuate poverty and hinder progress. Climate change and environmental degradation threaten the sustainability of ecosystems and human well-beings. Political and governance challenges, including inadequate policy coherence and implementation gaps, undermine progress. Additionally, the lack of sufficient financial resources and funding gaps pose significant constraints.
Despite the obstacles, there are notable opportunities and enablers that can accelerate progress towards the SDGs. Technological advancements and innovation play a pivotal role in finding sustainable solutions to complex challenges. Global partnerships and cooperation facilitate knowledge exchange and resource mobilisation. Policy coherence and the integration of the SDGs into national agendas can create synergies and maximise impact. Empowering local communities and supporting grassroots initiatives, promote inclusive and sustainable development.
To expedite progress towards the SDGs, several strategies and actions are essential. Strengthening institutional frameworks and governance mechanisms is crucial for effective implementation. Mobilising financial resources and encouraging investment in sustainable development is imperative. Promoting sustainable consumption and production patterns can mitigate environmental impacts. Furthermore, enhancing education, capacity building, and knowledge sharing are key to empowering individuals and communities to contribute actively to the SDGs.
Highlighting successful initiatives and projects that contribute to the SDGs can provide valuable insights and inspiration. Case studies from different regions exemplify the impact of localised efforts and showcase best practices. By learning from these experiences, we can replicate successful strategies and adapt them to diverse contexts.
While challenges persist, progress has been made, and opportunities exist to accelerate global efforts towards the goals. By harnessing technology, fostering global partnerships and empowering each other, I believe we can overcome some of the obstacles and create a sustainable and equitable future.
The urgency of achieving the SDGs cannot be overstated, and it is crucial to prioritise them in global development agendas. The world definitely looks to Nigeria, with its population and economy, for leadership especially in Africa in making the vision of the SDGs a reality. After all, the success of countries like Nigeria, India and Brazil is absolutely essential to meeting the global goals.