The global response to eradicating poverty, hunger andfighting climate change, as vowed by the world leaders, has not been"ambitious enough" and a faster response is required to achieve the2030 development agenda, according to the UN.
The United Nations' latest report on the SustainableDevelopment Goals (SDGs), launched Tuesday on the opening day of the UNHigh-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, said that while a "wealthof action" had been taken by the governments across the world, "themost vulnerable people and countries continue to suffer the most".
The impacts of climate change and increasing inequalityacross and within countries are undermining the progress on the sustainabledevelopment agenda, threatening to reverse many of the gains made over the lastdecades that have improved people's lives, the report said.
Four years since the adoption of the SDGs – the world'sblueprint for a fairer and healthier planet – the report notes progress in someareas such as on extreme poverty reduction, widespread immunisation, decreasein child mortality rates and increase in people's access to electricity, butwarns that global response has not been ambitious enough, leaving the mostvulnerable people and countries to suffer the most.
"It is abundantly clear that a much deeper, faster andmore ambitious response is needed to unleash the social and economictransformation needed to achieve our 2030 goals," United Nations Secretary-GeneralAntonio Guterres said.
Among the key findings of the report is that while thenumber of people living in extreme poverty declined from 36 per cent in 1990 to8.6 per cent in 2018, the pace of poverty reduction is starting to decelerate asthe world struggles to respond to entrenched deprivation, violent conflicts andvulnerabilities to natural disasters.
Hunger is on the rise again globally, with an estimated 821million people undernourished in 2017, up from 784 million in 2015. So, one innine people across the world are not getting enough to eat.
The decline in extreme poverty, which the UN defines as acondition characterised by the severe deprivation of basic human needs, hasslowed to the extent that the world is not on track to achieve the target ofless than three per cent of the world living in extreme poverty by 2030.
It is more likely on current estimates to be around six percent; that is around 420 million people, a situation of "graveconcern", according to the UN chief.
The lack of progress is particularly apparent amongenvironment-related goals such as climate action and biodiversity.
Described by Guterres last year as an "existentialthreat" to humanity, the outlook for meeting targets to reduce climatechange is grim. With rising greenhouse gas emissions, climate change isoccurring at rates much faster than anticipated and "its effects areclearly felt worldwide".
The report noted that the year 2018 was the 4th warmest yearon record and levels of carbon dioxide concentrations continued to increase in2018. Ocean acidity is 26 per cent higher than in pre-industrial times and isprojected to increase by 100 to 150 per cent by 2100 at the current rate of CO2emissions.
"The natural environment is deteriorating at an alarmingrate: sea levels are rising; ocean acidification is accelerating; the last fouryears have been the warmest on record; one million plant and animal species areat risk of extinction; and land degradation continues unchecked," Guterressaid.
The target is to keep the rate of global warming to below2°C and, if possible to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. The average globaltemperature is already 1°C above pre-industrial levels but if not enough isdone then warming will continue at an unsustainable pace and could well exceed3°C by the end of the century, the UN said.
While there are positive steps in terms of individualcountries developing climate plans and increase in the amount of money tofinance those activities, Guterres said "far more ambitious plans andaccelerated action is needed" on climate mitigation and adaptation.
Liu Zhenmin, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic andSocial Affairs said the clock for taking decisive actions on climate change isticking, stressing the importance of strengthening international cooperationand multilateral action to confront the monumental global challenges.
"The challenges highlighted in this report are globalproblems that require global solutions. Just as problems are interrelated, thesolutions to poverty, inequality, climate change and other global challengesare also interlinked," Liu said.
The UN will host the SDGs and Climate Action Summits as wellas other crucial meetings during the high-level week of the 74th Session of theGeneral Assembly in September, to reenergise the world leaders and the globalcommunity, get the world back on track and kick-start a decade of delivery forpeople and planet.
Major progress has been made in improving the health ofmillions of people, increasing life expectancy, reducing maternal and childmortality, and the fight against the most dangerous communicable diseases.
Despite those improvements, an estimated 303,000 womenaround the world died due to complications of pregnancy and childbirth in 2015,the majority in sub-Saharan Africa, the report said.
The UN Secretary-General said "there is simply no waythat we can achieve the 17 SDGs without achieving gender equality andempowering women and girls".