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Sustainable Development Report 2019:Transformations to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals

Key findings of the Sustainable Development Report 2019

World nations obtain their worst performance on SDG 13 (Climate Action), SDG 14 (Life Below Water), and SDG 15 (Life on Land). No country obtains a “green rating” (the report’s indicator for the achievement of an SDG) on SDG 14 (Life Below Water).

The authors conclude that sustainable land use and healthy diets require integrated agriculture, climate, and health policy interventions. New indicators on nations’ trophic level and yield gap closure highlight where energy and agricultural efficiency can be strengthened to support sustainable food supply while addressing negative environmental, biodiversity, and health impacts of diets.

High-income countries generate high environmental and socioeconomic spillover effects such as deforestation as a result of palm oil and other fuel commodity demands, tax havens and banking secrecy that undermine a country’s ability to raise public revenues, and tolerance for poor labor standards in international supply chains that harm the poor and women in particular.

Conflicts in many parts of the world continue to lead to reversals in SDG progress. Modern slavery and the share of waiting detainees in prison remain high, particularly in low-income countries. Trends in corruption and freedom of press are worsening in more than 50 countries covered in the report, including several middle income and high-income countries. Eradicating extreme poverty remains a global challenge with half of the world nations not on track for achieving SDG 1 (No Poverty). In middle- and high-income countries, rising income inequalities and persisting gaps in access to services and opportunities by income or territorial area remain important policy issues.

The report further cautions that land use and food production “are not meeting people’s needs,” and agriculture is destroying biodiversity and forests, squandering water and releasing 25% of global GHG emissions. The report states that 78% of countries for which data is available scored a red rating on sustainable nitrogen management, which is the worst performing indicator across all indicators analyzed in the report. Further, the report states that two billion people are deficient in micronutrients, 800 million people are undernourished (SDG targets 2.1 and 2.2), obesity is rising and 33% of food is wasted (SDG target 12.3). To address these challenges, the report calls for transformations towards sustainable land use and food systems that balance biodiversity conservation and restoration, efficient, resilient agriculture and forestry, and healthy diets.

In September 2019, Heads of State and Governments will convene for the first time in person at the United Nations in New York to review progress on their promises made after four years of working on Agenda 2030. While some countries are slowly moving forward with SDG-focused policies, they are not undergoing the major transformative change that is necessary to successfully achieve the goals by 2030.

The Sustainable Development Report 2019 calls for six major transformations in every country to address skills and jobs, health, clean energy, biodiversity and land use, cities, and digital technology. All countries have a big job ahead to create SDG roadmaps and strategies for success." says Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director of the SDSN.

"There is not much left of the historic promises made four years ago. We have to breathe life into the UN goals and transpose them into concrete measures. Poverty and unjust educational opportunities do not disappear by lip service, but only by action.”, says Aart De Geus, CEO of the Bertelsmann Stiftung.

Read the Summary of the report,  the full text report "Sustainable Development Report 2019:Transformations to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals” you can find here

The Sustainable Development Report is co-produced every year since 2016 by the Bertelsmann Stiftung and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN). It is a complement to the official SDG indicators and voluntary country-led review processes. The report is not an official monitoring tool. It uses publicly available data published by official data providers (World Bank, WHO, ILO, others) and other organizations including research centers and non-governmental organizations.