SDGs still achievable despite stalled progress

Back to Insights
SDGs still achievable despite stalled progress

Written by Rebecca Cain | 19th July 2023

As we near the half-way mark of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the unfortunate reality is that progress towards the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is far off track. Data released by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) shows that, as of 2022, the global SDG Index is below 67 per cent, having risen only slightly from 64 per cent when the SDGs were set in 2015. At the global level, averaging across countries, not a single SDG is currently projected to be met by 2030, with the poorest countries struggling the most.

Rather than progress accelerating in the way it needs to, the SDSN report states that the COVID-19 pandemic, growing geopolitical conflict, societal polarisation and populism are hindering the global cooperation needed to achieve the SDGs.

Australia's progress

With an SDG Index of 75.9, Australia ranks 40 out of 166 in terms of each country’s overall performance on the 17 SDGs, giving equal weight to each Goal (Finland is ranked 1 with an SDG Index of 86.8 and South Sudan is ranked 166 with an SDG Index of 38.7). Less than 50 per cent of SDG targets have been achieved or are on track for Australia. Approximately 30 per cent of targets have worsened since the last report, with major challenges for SDG 1 No Poverty (poverty rates), SDG 10 Reduced Inequalities (Gini coefficient) and SDG 15 Life on Land (deforestation and species survival). The SDG dashboard below presents overall performance.

Australia’s ranking of 69 out of 75 countries in terms of government efforts may provide some context for Australia’s performance. Australia is one of two countries (along with USA) highlighted whose very high per-capita GDP indicates potential for high performance due to greater access to capital to invest in SDG transformations, yet poor government efforts to coordinate SDG activity demonstrates only a limited commitment to the SDGs.

Increased effort required

Despite this grim prognosis, the SDSN emphasises that the SDGs are still achievable. During 2023, as we critically review progress at the half-way mark, there will be renewed calls for all government, for-profit and for-purpose organisations to double-down on efforts to achieve the SDGs. And many ideas about what specifically needs to change to meet the SDGs by 2030.

Read these articles to find out how you can do more to contribute to the SDGs, in both your personal and professional capacity.