By: Erica Barton
The 2019 Sustainable Development Report was released last month and ranks 162 countries on their progress toward the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The goals are focused on improving various areas of economic, social, and environmental development in order to create a more sustainable world for all. With Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and France topping the list, the US was ranked far below at number thirty-five.
“The core idea of sustainable development is that economic growth is not enough for human wellbeing.”
The US has made progress toward the SDGs, and is improving in the majority of the goals. However, we are only on track to achieve 3 of the 17 SDGs by the goal date of 2030 – SDG 4 Quality Education, SDG 8 Quality Work and Economic Growth, and SDG 9 Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure. While the US excels when it comes to economic growth, its progress in social and environmental development is poor. Progress remains stagnant on key social and environmental goals like reducing inequalities, climate action, keeping our oceans clean, and creating the necessary partnerships with other stakeholders to meet these goals.
“Market forces alone will not achieve the SDGs … directed transformations are needed to develop the technologies, promote the public and private investments, and ensure adequate governance mechanisms needed to achieve the time-bound goals.”
No country is on track to achieve all Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Every country, including the US, can improve their efforts. The report states that achieving the SDGs will require diligence, careful design, and adequate policies. There must also be support from all parts of society. In addition to federal and state governments, public and private organizations should be invested in finding ways to meet the goals.
In Atlanta, the Regional Centre of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development (RCE), is doing its part to achieve the SDGs at a local level. The RCE Greater Atlanta connects universities, nonprofits, governments, and businesses with each other to educate the community and expand sustainability efforts our region.
All quotes and figures are found in Sustainable Development Report 2019