Key messages from the Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR) 2023

Context at the half-way point to 2030
  • At the half-way point toward 2030 the SDGs are far off track. Of 36 targets reviewed in the report, only 2 are on track to be achieved, while progress on eight is deteriorating. Humanity risks prolonged periods of crisis and uncertainty triggered by and reinforcing poverty, inequality, hunger, disease, conflict and disaster without urgent course correction and acceleration toward the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 
  • The crises that have wiped out years of SDG progress are interrelated, fueling intensities, but connections could be turned into opportunities. A spate of shocks - the COVID-19 pandemic, conflicts in many regions including the war in Ukraine, a cost-of-living and debt crisis, and climate related disasters – are entwined through environmental, economic and social systems that create intensifying SDG backslides. The same interconnections amplifying the crises offer opportunities for integrated recovery strategies and for addressing systemic risks. 
  • There is rising awareness and commitments to the SDGs, but this needs to translate into action at a scale visible in SDG progress often due to lack of financial resources. Goal attainment will depend on all actors integrating the SDGs into core decision-making processes, financing mechanisms prioritizing SDG attainment, and strong mechanisms for accountability. 

Evidence to inform the way forward 
  • Transformation to sustainable pathways should be rooted in science: Addressing context specific challenges to the SDGs, taking a holistic approach and enabling large scale and rapid change calls for science that is multidisciplinary, equitably and inclusively produced, openly shared, widely trusted and embraced, and ‘socially robust’ – relevant to society. Increasing support for scientific activity in low- and middle- income countries can build capacity for context specific SDG solutions based in science. 
  • This involves increasing investment in science and innovation systems, especially in low- and middle-income countries; funding and rewarding science that enables the SDGs; as well as promoting open access to scientific research, publications and data and strengthening mechanisms for knowledge sharing including with support for the GSDR.

Calls to action for transformations 

  • Science driven transformations are urgently needed to enable progress toward the SDGs. This means identifying key interventions that have systemic effects across the SDGs, scaling up investment, mobilising the knowledge of scientists, practitioners and communities at all levels, and building the capacity needed in all countries and institutions, all while enhancing policy learning and accountability and closely monitoring the impacts of interventions. 
  • United Nations Member States are urged to establish an SDG Transformation Framework for Accelerated Action. This framework would consist of 6 elements: 
    • 1) National Plans for Transformative Accelerated Action grounded in science and inclusive processes to identify and harness SDG synergies and reduce negative transboundary spillovers; 
    • 2) local and industry-specific planning to feed into national plans; 
    • 3) initiatives through the Addis Ababa Action Agenda or otherwise to increase fiscal space, including tax reforms, debt restructuring and relief and increased engagement from international financial institutions for SDG implementation; 
    • 4) investing in SDG related data, science-based tools and policy learning with attention to closing SDG data and research and development spending gaps; 
    • 5) establishing partnerships to strengthen the science-policy-society interface and 
    • 6) investing in measures to improve accountability of governments and other stakeholders. 
  •  Governments and other actors need to steer transformations by activating synergies in each of the six entry-points:
    1. human well-being and capabilities, 
    2. sustainable and just economies, 
    3. food systems and nutrition patterns, 
    4. energy decarbonization and universal access, 
    5. urban and peri-urban development, and the 
    6. global environmental commons 
  • Disruptive trends in climate change, rising inequality, biodiversity loss, demographic change and digitalization need to be countered and shaped with actions at all levels in solidarity. Coordinated action should especially focus on: 
    1. preventing and avoiding violent conflict; 
    2. opening the necessary fiscal space for action; 
    3. ensuring meaningful inclusion and engagement of marginalized groups; 
    4. making digital transformation work for the SDGs; 
    5. achieving gender equality through legislation, banning harmful practices, education, and reproductive health. 
Key messages from the Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR) 2023

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