Report: SDGs can be delivered, but not until 2050

Earth4All, an international team of economists and scientists, in collaboration with the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS), has unveiled a five-point plan to deliver the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – but it will take more than 20 years.

Report: SDGs can be delivered, but not until 2050

The “SDGs for All” report emphasises that policymakers have the potential to significantly advance SDG implementation by the original 2030 deadline and beyond by enacting five “extraordinary turnarounds” that break away from current trends.

The key action levers include boosting investments and implementing higher taxation for the rich, reforming the International Monetary Fund (IMF) with a focus on Special Drawing Rights (SDR) allocation and providing sovereign debt relief for low-income countries.

Additionally, it suggests safeguarding workers’ rights, establishing robust safety nets, investing substantially in the empowerment of women and girls, transforming food systems towards sustainability, and transitioning to cleaner and more efficient energy sources.

Earlier this year, the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) revealed that global progress on SDGs has been “static” for the third year in a row, posing a threat to the world’s decade-long efforts on the Global Goals.

The report is a response to the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s call for rigorous strategic analysis and foresight in policymaking.

It includes insights from leading scientists, economists, and modelers, offering proven approaches to implement the SDGs effectively and reshape global policy discussions, including upcoming events like the UN SDG Summit, the UNFCCC COP28, and the UN Summit of the Future.

The report outlines two distinct scenarios: In the ‘Too Little Too Late’ (TLTL) scenario, a continuation of business-as-usual practices results in worsening wealth inequality, escalating social tensions, and minimal action on climate and ecological challenges.

Under this scenario, global temperatures soar to 2.5°C by 2100, posing a severe threat to Earth’s ecosystem stability, with extreme poverty persisting until the end of the century.

In contrast, ‘The Giant Leap’ (GL) scenario presents an alternative path that requires an annual expenditure of 2-4% of GDP. This path empowers society to take ambitious and simultaneous actions addressing poverty, inequality, empowerment, food security, and energy sustainability.

The outcomes include temperature stabilisation below 2°C, eradication of extreme poverty by 2050, decreased social tensions, reduced inequality, and significant improvements in overall well-being.

Earth4All co-lead Sandrine Dixson-Declève said: “The Giant Leap scenario offers a way out of the current planetary emergency and a pathway for attaining the majority of SDGs by 2050. However, this will require a radical transformation away from today’s extractive economy dominated by GDP growth to wellbeing economies that place a value on people, planet and prosperity.”

Spotlight on climate

A critical concern highlighted in the report is that both scenarios witness excessive global warming by 2050, with catastrophic consequences. However, the GL scenario allows global warming to plateau below 2°C, offering hope for a sustainable future. The report also underscores the alarming disparity in gender equality progress, projecting it would take 257 years to reduce the overall gender gap at current rates.

Dixson-Declève added: “Although the achievement of the, SDGs especially SDG 13 and SDG 5, is in grave danger, failing to meet them is not an option. The recipe for success: SDG implementation must be coupled with emergency planning to prepare for future shocks and stresses and leaders must take up the call for radical transformation.”

Earth4All and FEPS intend to present the findings of the “SDGs for All” report to the UN and stakeholders ahead of and during the SDG Summit next week. Next week also marks Climate Week NYC and the UN General Assembly meetings in New York.

Join the conversation during edie’s Sustainable Development Action Sessions

From 18-22 September, the edie team will be hosting a week-long campaign of content and events dedicated to the delivery of the SDGs.

The main event is an afternoon of free-to-attend interactive webinars, the Sustainable Development Action Sessions. Tune in on Thursday 21 September 2023 to hear from experts at organisations including the UN Global Compact, Velux Group and SailGP. Click here for a full agenda and to register.

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