The world may have made little progress in its Sustainability Development Goals (SDG) for 2030, but the few areas that have brought in good news include consumption and production, marine ecosystem, and terrestrial vegetation.
There has been more than 25% progress in these three areas, but they’re still miles behind the target.
“A preliminary assessment of the roughly 140 targets with data show only about 12% are on track; close to half, though showing progress, are moderately or severely off track and some 30% have either seen no movement or regressed below the 2015 baseline,” said a United Nations secretary general’s special report published recently.
“There has been progress in some areas, however, progress against a very worrying proportion of targets is either moving much too slowly or has regressed,” it said.
SDG 15: Life on land
This goal seeks to “protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.”
At around 34%, progress on this front stood at the highest among all 17 SDGs.
For instance, at the end of 2022, up to 68 countries had at least one legislative, administrative, or policy measure in place to ensure fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources. In 2016, the number was a mere six.
At least 87% of all countries are now aligned with the global target of enacting laws to control invasive alien species. Similarly, there’s been a steady rise in the number of those incorporating biodiversity values into national accounting.
SDG 14: Life below water
This SDG saw the second-most progress at around 30%. It seeks to “conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.”
Evidently, much more needs to be done on this front. The study notes that on average, between 2013 to 2021, only 1.1% of national research budgets were allocated for ocean science.
This can have an impact on multiple areas associated with marine life.
For instance, the ocean’s current average pH level, which is a measure of alkalinity, is 8.1. This makes it “about 30% more acidic than in pre-industrial times.” As the ocean absorbs more carbon dioxide, its pH level falls and it becomes more acidic, making it less supportive of marine life.
Then there is the matter of fishing. The study noted that overfishing had increased by 1.2% between 2017 and 2019, missing the 2020 target to restore fish stocks to biologically sustainable levels.
“In the 2018-2022 period, there has been some progress...The new WTO Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies marks a major step forward towards ocean sustainability,” it said.
SDG 12: Responsible consumption and production
The world’s progress in ensuring “sustainable consumption and production patterns” stood at around 27%, according to the latest study.
It cited the tripling of data on corporate sustainability since the beginning of the SDG period as an example of such progress.
Similarly, in 2022, up to 67 governments reported to the United Nations Environment Program on the implementation of sustainable public procurement policies and action plans. That is an increase of 50% from 2020.
In 2021, the world lost 13.2% of its food due to post-harvest challenges. This was unchanged from 2016 and still very far from the target of cutting these losses by 50% in this decade.