The latest developments on the approaches to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
SDGs – Are we reaching the tipping point?
As the global communities around the world race against time to achieve the SDGs1, an important question arises: “Are the objectives and targets of the SDG agenda achievable by 2030?” The United Nations’, forecast2 on viability of selected targets showed that some goals3 are within 5% of the target (e.g. enrolment in primary school – Goal 4; reducing child mortality – Goal 5), whilst other goals maybe achieved with additional efforts - being within 5 -10% of the target (e.g. eradicating extreme poverty – Goal 1; access to safe sanitisation – Goal 6). Targets related to addressing child labour issues - Goal 8 and inequality in income – Goal 10 are examples of areas that are relatively further off the mark and would probably require significant work to achieve substantial progress.
A recent scientific study4 identified that deploying a systemic approach, through consideration of the interconnections between the goals and resultant cobenefits and trade-offs – would bring transformative impacts that accelerate the progress towards achieving the SDGs.
As an example, the study showed that the economic and social impacts or benefits of using a sustainable energy system potentially outweighs the associated costs of transition/ deploying the system. It is estimated that for every dollar spent on shifting to a sustainable energy system, would generate between $3 and $7, in the form of savings from reduced air pollution, improved health and lower environmental damage arising from the transition could be avoided.
This brings a refreshed perspective for global communities to rethink their approach to SDGs, perhaps, advancing from the traditional method of individually pursuing each goal and target. In general, this would require organisations to have a deeper understanding of the interlinkages between the economic, environmental and social impacts of their initiatives in addressing the SDGs, particularly in quantifiable monetary terms.
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