Goal of the Month Editorial | July 2023
The July edition of Goal of the Month editorial looks at the social and economic dimensions of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. According to the World Economic Situation and Prospects as of mid-2023, the global economy is projected to grow by 2.3 percent in 2023, well below the average rate of 3.1 percent during the two decades before the COVID-19 pandemic, underscoring challenges for meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In July, the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (10-19 July) and the SDGs Report 2023: Special Edition (10 July) will be at the center of global efforts to scale up action on the Goals.
Where are we?
Halfway to the 2030 deadline, the SDGs are in peril. The UN Secretary-General’s 2023 SDGs Report: Special Edition shows that about 12 percent of targets are on track; more than half, though showing progress, are moderately or severely off track and some 30 percent have either seen no movement or regressed below the 2015 baseline.
Unless we take urgent action now, 575 million people will still be living in extreme poverty in 2030 — and only about one-third of countries will meet the target to halve national poverty levels. Shockingly, the world is back at hunger levels not seen since 2005 — and food prices remain higher in more countries than in the period from 2015-2019. The way things are going, it will take 286 years to close gender gaps in legal protection and remove discriminatory laws.
Moreover, the gap between the rich and poor is expanding, with the most vulnerable countries bearing the brunt of global crises. Developing countries are grappling with exorbitant borrowing costs — up to eight times higher than those of developed countries. “It is clear that the international financial architecture has failed in its mission to provide a global safety net for developing countries,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres at the recent Paris Summit on New Global Financing Pact, stressing the longer-term need to reform the global financial system while calling for an immediate SDG Stimulus of $500 billion per year for investments in sustainable development and climate action.
But there is hope. Early efforts after the adoption of the SDGs produced some favorable trends. To name a few examples, extreme poverty, and child mortality rates continued to fall. Humanity made inroads against such diseases as HIV and hepatitis. The SDG Summit on 18 to 19 September 2023, preceded by the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) in July, aims to signal a fundamental shift in commitment, solidarity, financing, and action to put the world on a better path.
High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (10-19 July)
Governments from both developed and developing countries will gather together with business, civil society, thought leaders, and influencers at the 2023 High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development convened under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council on 10 to 19 July at UN Headquarters in New York to scale up transformative action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The theme for this year’s Forum is “Accelerating the recovery from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at all levels.” In addition to an in-depth review of Goals 6 (clean water and sanitation), 7 (affordable and clean energy), 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure), 11 (sustainable cities and communities), and 17 (partnerships), the Forum will also feature a general debate and thematic discussions.
Thirty-nine countries and the European Union will present their Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) — the bold actions they are taking on the SDGs — on 14 to 19 July. The 2023 presenters are Bahrain, Barbados, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Canada, Central African Republic, Comoros, Chile, Croatia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, European Union, Fiji, France, Guyana, Iceland, Ireland, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Maldives, Mongolia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovakia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste, Turkmenistan, United Republic of Tanzania, Uzbekistan, Viet Nam, and Zambia.
The Forum will feed into the SDG Summit and the High-Level Dialogue on Financing for Development, as world leaders gather at UN Headquarters in New York during the General Assembly high-level week in September to turn the tide and kick-start a new drive for SDG achievement. As the main multi-stakeholder platform for reviewing progress on the SDGs, the Forum will serve as a pre-SDG Summit event to help identify substantive priorities, raise awareness and generate political momentum.