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SDG progress report a wake-up call

India’s performance has been mixed. The country performed well on 85 indicators, stagnated on 27, and declined on 36.
Last Updated 21 February 2024, 22:30 IST

The 2024 SDG Progress Report, released by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) has painted a bleak picture of the performance of the countries of the Asia-Pacific region on the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals). It says that none of the 17 SDGs are on track to be achieved by the 2030 deadline and at the current pace, the region will not achieve them before 2062. That shows a delay of 32 years in meeting some of the most basic needs of life of the people in the region. The contrast with the developed world and even within the poorer countries cannot be more stark. Very large numbers of people in the most populous part of the world will live in hunger and will be denied minimum welfare and quality of life when many others will enjoy ever greater privileges and luxuries of life in an increasingly unequal world. One reason for the regression was the Covid-19 pandemic, which all but erased the progress made since 2015. But that is only one reason. 

Of the 116 measurable targets, only 11 per cent are set to be achieved by 2030. Goals 1 and 9, which are about elimination of poverty, and sustainable industry, innovation and infrastructure, respectively, have seen the maximum progress. Climate action has seen a setback and it has made the region a major victim of climate change and extreme weather events. Some countries have done better than others. Vietnam’s focus on technical and vocational education and digital empowerment of migrant workers has yielded good results. Bangladesh has improved maternal and peri-natal death surveillance and response systems and that has also had good impact. 

India’s performance has been mixed. The country performed well on 85 indicators, stagnated on 27, and declined on 36. Vietnam and China improved on 84 and 79 counts, respectively. Bangladesh did well on 78 indicators and Sri Lanka on 76. India’s performance deteriorated in some key areas like investment in agriculture, treatment of waste water, fiscal, wage and social protection policies, expenditure on research and development, biodiversity and ecosystems, land degradation, and employment in manufacturing. There was good progress in access to affordable energy, industry, innovation and infrastructure, health and wellbeing, and education. Lack of availability of data is a major problem in the measurement of advancement of countries on various SDGs. Progress on 32 per cent of the indicators could not be calculated for India due to insufficient or lack of data. The report is a wake-up call to all countries of the region because they need to do much more than they are doing currently to provide the minimum standards of life and welfare to their people. 

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(Published 21 February 2024, 22:30 IST)

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