The report also highlights where action must accelerate, particularly in critical areas undermining SDG progress - climate change, peace and security (Image UN)

World is failing to Deliver on Promise of SDGs, warns New UN Report

With just six years remaining, current progress falls far short of what is required to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a new United Nations report reveals.

The achievement of the SDGs — the blueprint for a more resilient and prosperous world — will remain elusive without massive investment and scaled up action, warns the SDGs Report 2024, launched on Friday.

The report reveals that only 17% of the SDG targets are currently on track, with nearly half showing minimal or moderate progress, and over one-third stalled or regressing.

The lingering impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, escalating conflicts, geopolitical tensions and growing climate chaos have severely hindered progress.

An additional 23 million people were pushed into extreme poverty and over 100 million more were suffering from hunger in 2022 compared to 2019, according to the report.

The number of civilian deaths in armed conflict skyrocketed in 2023. That year was also the warmest on record, with global temperatures nearing the critical 1.5°C threshold.

“This report highlights the urgent need for stronger and more effective international cooperation to maximize progress starting now,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said.

“With more than six years left, we must not let up on our 2030 promise to end poverty, protect the planet and leave no one behind,” he added.

Urgent Priorities

The report highlights where action must accelerate, particularly in critical areas undermining SDG progress – peace and security, and inequalities among and between countries.

Financing development is one the areas requiring urgent action. The SDG investment gap in developing countries currently stands at $4 trillion per year.

Developing countries require more financial resources and fiscal space. Reforming the global financial architecture is crucial to unlocking the volume of financing required to spur sustainable development, the report says.

The report also stressed on the need to prioritize peace and security, as the number of forcibly displaced people reaches an unprecedented level – nearly 120 million by May 2024.

Civilian casualties spiked by 72% between 2022 and 2023 amid escalating violence, highlighting the urgent need for peace. “Resolving ongoing conflicts through dialogue and diplomacy is essential,” the report urges.

It also calls for massive investment and effective partnerships are needed to drive critical transitions in food, energy, social protection, digital connectivity and more.

Success stories and opportunities for action

There are also examples of success and resilience that, the report says, can be built upon through decisive action. These include the remarkable recent strides in deploying renewable energy, for example, highlight a clear pathway to a just energy transition.

Girls in most regions have achieved parity and even pulled ahead of boys in completing schooling at all levels while increasing internet access by about 70% in just eight years also illustrates how rapid transformative change is possible.

Similarly, the report says decades of progress against HIV/AIDS provide a template for overcoming other pandemics through global solidarity and funding for scientific breakthroughs.

“Time and again, humanity has demonstrated that when we work together and apply our collective mind, we can forge solutions to seemingly intractable problems,” said Li Junhua, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs.