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Where Sustainable Development Goals Are Headed in the Next 10 Years

This September marks the fifth year since the launch of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs are “the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.”

Even before the pandemic hit, the UN said we were behind the target timeline in reaching these goals. Let’s revisit the SDGs’ status and how we can contribute to their success.

Alert! We are off-track.

There’s no denying that progress was made since the start of the SDGs. For example, there are fewer girls forced into early marriage today and women occupy more leadership roles, per Goal 5. But fast forward to today, it is also evident that we are off track in meeting the goals. The achievement of full gender equality is still far from the target.

The SDG Report 2020 shows the details on how much more needs to be done. Goal 1 is to end poverty in all its forms around the world, yet the numbers tell of worsening poverty. There were $23.6 billion of direct economic losses in 2018 due to natural disasters.

As of 2017, there are still 2.2 billion people who can’t access safe drinking water. A wide gap is still present in fostering inclusive innovation. In 2019, fewer than one in five people had access to the internet in the least developed countries.

The goal to make smart, inclusive and sustainable cities is also facing slow improvements. In 2018, the urban population living in slums increased by 24%. There are also shortcomings in meeting the target developments around promoting peace, global partnership and climate resiliency.

Coronavirus pandemic: A choke point in attaining the 2030 SDGs

Our ways of living have been affected by the COVID-19 global crisis. It has doubled the challenges in accomplishing the 2030 SDGs. It’s pulling us away from the progress made in creating a safer and better life for all.

One of the biggest hits of the pandemic is that it has pushed more than 72 million people into extreme poverty in 2020. Food systems are threatened. Small-scale food producers have taken a serious blow in this crisis. The world is currently facing the worst economic recession since the Great Depression.

Even the decades of health care improvements could be reversed. Immunization programs for children from around 70 countries were interrupted. COVID-19 has also amplified the shortage of medical personnel worldwide. The current situation showed the need for greater public health preparedness. Data innovation is also seen as crucial in responding to the crisis and supporting SDG acceleration.

We can still cope: UN SDG Decade of Action 2020

At this moment, it might feel a hopeless battle. But we still have 10 more years to work together in meeting the 2030 SDGs.

The UN has made a global call for a Decade of Action starting this year to deliver the SDGs by 2030. This integrates the global and local actions toward greater leadership and more aggressive and smarter ways to get resources and funding.

The role of local-level transformations on embedding the SDGs in policymaking, budgeting and regulatory frameworks of governments has been emphasized.

Now, you might be thinking: How can we help? As individuals working in public service, it is most likely that we know more about the SDGs than others. We must find ways to be involved in educating the people around us. We must join the movements of youth, academia, media, civil society and the private sector to push for transformation. We can start small with our families and friends.

In the words of Antonio Gutteres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, “Everything we do during and after this crisis [COVID-19] must be with a strong focus on building more equal, inclusive, sustainable economies and societies that are more resilient in the face of pandemics, and the many other global challenges we face.”

Charisse Ann Nevalga-Almeida hails from one of South East Asia’s tropical countries, the Philippines. She works as an Investments Specialist in the City Government of Cabuyao, Laguna. A public sector professional for four years, she also dreams of pursuing urban planning and development management career in the future. Cha is also a freelance copywriter and social media strategist aspiring to help social impact businesses. She’s also a digitally savvy mom of three, advocating digital citizenship, especially among the youth. Cha loves reading blogs, watching documentaries and listening to podcasts on anything about social good, sustainability and social media while having her daily coffee fix. Follow Cha on Instagram and LinkedIn.

Photo by Mat Reding on Unsplash

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Avatar photo Nicole Blake Johnson

These are definitely words to live by: “Everything we do during and after this crisis [COVID-19] must be with a strong focus on building more equal, inclusive, sustainable economies and societies that are more resilient in the face of pandemics, and the many other global challenges we face.”