Common Ground for the Common Good
Be the people we need--Build the world we need
Halfway into the Sustainable Development Goals
Taking Stock--Taking Action
Sounding the Alarm--Rescuing Our World
It’s yet another dismal appraisal of the future and a dire warning by UN Secretary-General António Guterres. The central message of the 105 paragraphs of his May 2023 progress report on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDSs) collectively point to the perilous and catastrophic path that people and planet are inseparably traveling upon. The rallying aspirations at the launch of the SDGs in 2015—“transforming our world”--have regressively morphed into a summons for survival--“rescuing our world.” We take this regressive shift towards survival seriously. We do not believe this is self-serving, fear-mongering rhetoric from the UN. We also believe that from the start, the SDGs have in fact fundamentally been about rescuing and saving the world interlaced with "transforming" it.
In this Update (#85), we check in again with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), this time on the occasion of the halfway point in their 15 year time frame (2015-2030). In so doing we want to encourage us all to make it a point to regularly track with the SDGs as a whole as well as with specific goals of interest. Further we want to nudge us all to not only track with but also to engage with these crucial and varied efforts to further realize wellbeing for all people and the planet. In short: take stock and take action.
To help facilitate tracking and engaging further with the SDGs, we present two major progress reports (May and June 2023 versions) and two major United Nations gatherings (High-Level Political Forums in July and September 2023). We really encourage you to take the time to check out what is happening—and in many cases, sadly, what is not happening with the SDGs. Use the materials in this Update...to get updated!
- Report 1--Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals: Towards a Rescue Plan for People and Planet. Report of the UN Secretary-General António Guterres (special edition--advance unedited version, May 2023)
- Report 2--Global Sustainable Development Report 2023. Independent Group of Scientists (IGS) supported by a task team of six UN agencies (advance unedited report, 14 June 2023)
- Event 1--United Nations High Level Meeting on Sustainable Development under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council--Pre-SDG Summit (10-19 July 2023)
- Event 2--United Nations High Level Meeting on Sustainable Development under the auspices of the General Assembly--SDG Summit (18-19 September 2023)
Suggested Applications--Making It Personal
- Review the four items featured below: the summary excerpts from the two SDG progress reports and the overviews of the upcoming High Level Political Forums on the SDGs. You may also want to reacquaint yourself with the foundational SDG document from 2015, Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
- Probe further into one or more of the featured items. For example, read the Executive Summary of the Global Sustainable Development Report 2023 (GSDR). To what extent do you concur with the “warning signal" that “unless the world makes an urgent course correction and initiates transformative change, we risk undermining advances made, increasing vulnerability to future crises and cementing unsustainable development pathways.”(page 20)
- Save the dates to watch some of the livestreamed sessions (or recordings) from the SDG Pre-Summit (10-19 July 2023) and the SDG Summit (18-19 September 2023) (UN Web TV). Check out the provisional schedules for these two UN gatherings (links below).
- Share this Update with your colleagues, organization(s), and network(s). Interact with colleagues to discuss practical applications for your life and work—for taking stock and taking action. For examples and ideas on how to get involved in the SDGs, see “Act Now.”
Going further--see these Global Integration Updates:
- Perils, Paralysis, Hope: Sustainable Development-Sustainable Destruction? (October 2022)
- Thinking Critically about Sustainable Development (February 2022)
- Shaping the Future We Want: UN75 Global Conversation (January 2020)
- Progress Reports–Sustainable Development Goals (August 2019)
Kelly and Michèle
Halfway into the Sustainable Development Goals
Taking Stock--Taking Action
Sounding the Alarm--Rescuing Our World
"In Panama City inequality is seen side by side. Panama, April 2020."
Photo: UNDP/Grey Díaz UNDP Photos of the Year 2020
“It's time to sound the alarm. At the mid-way point on our way to 2030, the SDGs are in deep trouble. A preliminary assessment of the roughly 140 targets with data [169 targets total] shows only about 12% are on track; more than half, though showing progress, are moderately or severely off track and some 30% have either seen no movement or regressed below the 2015 baseline.” UN Secretary-General António Guterres, Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals: Towards a Rescue Plan for People and Planet (May 2023). Paragraph 4
SDG Progress Report 1
Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals: Towards a Rescue Plan for People and Planet. Report of the UN Secretary-General António Guterres, Advance unedited version (May 2023). Excerpts below.
The present report on progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals is submitted in response to General Assembly resolution 70/1, Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. At the mid-way point towards 2030, this Special Edition report provides an update on progress made since 2015 against the global SDG indicator framework. It finds that many of the SDGs are moderately to severely off track and puts forward five major recommendations to rescue the Sustainable Development Goals and accelerate implementation between now and 2030, for Member State consideration in advance of the SDG Summit.
Leave no one behind. That defining principle of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a shared promise by every country to work together to secure the rights and well-being of everyone on a healthy, thriving planet. But halfway to 2030, that promise is in peril. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are disappearing in the rear-view mirror – and with them the hope and rights of current and future generations. A fundamental shift in needed – in commitment, solidarity, financing and action - to put the world on a better path. And it is needed now.
Five Major Recommendations
10. First, I urge Heads of State and Government to recommit to seven years of accelerated, sustained and transformative action, both nationally and internationally, to deliver on the promise of the SDGs.
13. Second, I call on governments to advance concrete, integrated and targeted policies and actions to eradicate poverty, reduce inequality and end the war on nature, with a particular focus on advancing the rights women and girls and empowering the most vulnerable.
16. Third, I urge on governments to strengthen national and sub-national capacity, accountability and public institutions to deliver accelerated SDG progress.
18. Fourth, to ensure developing countries can deliver in the above areas, I strongly encourage the international community to recommit this September to deliver on the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and to mobilize the resources and investment needed for developing countries to achieve the SDGs, particularly those in special situations and experiencing acute vulnerability.
21. Finally, I urge member states to facilitate the continued strengthening of the UN development system and to boost the capacity of the multilateral system to tackle emerging challenges and address SDG related gaps and weaknesses in the international architecture that have emerged since 2015.
Concluding Paragraphs 102-105
102. The world has been rocked by a series of interlinked crises exposing fundamental shortcomings in business-as-usual approaches to sustainability including the vulnerability and fragility of progress, reinforcing inequalities, life-long impacts of adverse events, increasing threats of irreversible change, risks of ignoring interlinkages, and the geographically imbalanced distribution of global assets for achieving sustainable development.
103. Tepid responses will not do for the millions living in poverty and hunger, the women and girls with unequal opportunities, the communities facing climate disaster or the families fleeing conflict. We need a fully-fledged Rescue Plan for People and Planet.
104. There are no excuses not to be ambitious. Never before have we had such an abundance of knowledge, technology and resources to succeed in ending poverty and saving the planet. Never before have we carried such a responsibility to pivot to a bold set of actions.
105. At the SDG Summit, we must match that abundance and responsibility with global, national and local commitments to deliver the finance, to galvanize the leadership and to restore the trust that will put us on course to achieve the SDGs by 2030.”
--See also a summary of this Report on the SDG Knowledge Hub of the International Institute for Sustainable Development.
--See also the Voluntary National Reviews of SDG Progress
SDG Progress Report 2
Global Sustainable Development Report 2023 (GSDR). Independent Group of Scientists (IGS) supported by a task team of six UN agencies (advance unedited report, 14 June 2023). Excerpts below.
The GSDR is an independent report and while the IGS have considered all feedback from Member States and stakeholders, they have incorporated changes at their discretion. The current draft is an advance and unedited version that is undergoing editing, fact checking, design, layout. The final version will be available in September 2023. (page 2)
Excerpts from the Executive Summary (pages 6-19)
Transformations are possible, and inevitable. This report is an invitation to embrace transformations with the urgency needed to accelerate progress toward the SDGs. Four years have passed since the 2019 Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR) was 188 published and even then, the world was not on track to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Since 2019, challenges have multiplied and intensified. The world has moved forward on some fronts, such as the deployment of zero carbon technologies as one of many climate mitigation strategies. Progress has been halted in many areas partly as a consequence of a confluence of crises – the ongoing pandemic, rising inflation and the cost-of-living crisis, and planetary, environmental and economic distress, along with regional and national unrest, conflicts, and natural disasters. As a result, overall progress towards the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs has been severely disrupted in the last 196 three years, yet every inch of progress matters and counts. (page 6)
Strive not for one, but for all securities. The resilience and well-being of planet, people, environment, and ecosystems are degraded. A better future does not rest on one source of 1security, but on all necessary securities, including geopolitical, energy, climate, water, food,and social security. Strategies to embrace transformations should therefore be based on the principles of solidarity, equity and well-being, in harmony with nature. (page 6)
Working as a human collective, time and resources must be used as judiciously and effectively as possible. The world is changing at an accelerated rate. Halfway to 2030, thereis an ever-greater urgency to build momentum, embrace solidarity, and speed up progress on the SDGs. To do that, decision-makers need to use time and resources —human, knowledge, financial, and institutional, among others— as judiciously and effectively as 207 possible, and take a systematic and strategic approach to drive and accelerate 208 transformations. (page 6)
The 2023 Global Sustainable Development Report has six chapters. Chapter 1, asks ‘where are we now?’ and, reflecting on where the world is at the halfway point to 2030, highlights the need for resilience and acceleration. Chapter 2 asks ‘where are we heading?’ and frames the future, from urgency to agency, reviewing new knowledge for understanding the interlinkages between the SDGs and international SDG spillovers. Chapter 3 focuses on ‘what needs to be done?’, reviewing scenario projections for the SDGs alongside key shifts and interventions to accelerate transformations through the six entry points introduced in the 2019 GSDR. Chapter 4 considers ‘how can it be done?’ with a framework that can guide strategic action. It unpacks the dynamics in different phases of transformations towards sustainable development, with examples from historical and recent experience. Chapter 5 is about the unifying role of science, the importance of knowledge from a broader spectrum of society, both in the production of socially robust science, and in connecting science to policy making. Finally, Chapter 6 is a call for action inviting a reflection on the steps ahead, to accelerate transformative action, improve the underlying conditions for transformation, and use science to drive the world forward. (page 7)
Chapter 1: Half-way to 2030 – progress towards the SDGs. In 2015, United Nations Member States agreed on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 associated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – as a universal call for action to end poverty and protect the planet. But today at the half-way point, the world is not on track to achieve the SDGs by 2030, and we are more off track than four years ago. This is a warning signal that unless the world makes an urgent course correction and initiates transformative change, we risk undermining advances made, increasing vulnerability to future crises and cementing unsustainable development pathways.(summar of chapter 1, page 20)
--See also the World Development Report 2023: Migrants, Refugees, and Societies and related resources from the World Bank.
--See also the advanced information about the upcoming Human Development Report 2023 by the UN Develoment Program.
High-Level Political Forum
UN SDG Pre-Summit July 2023
Save the dates--tune into the live and recorded events on UN WebTV
"The High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) will be held from Monday, 10 July, to Wednesday, 19 July 2023, under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council. This includes the three-day ministerial segment of the forum from Monday, 17 July, to Wednesday, 19 July 2023 as part of the High-level Segment of the Council. The last day of the High-level Segment of ECOSOC will be on Thursday, 20 July 2023.
The theme will be 'Accelerating the recovery from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at all levels '.
In the forum, participants will be able to further discuss the effective and inclusive recovery measures to address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and explore actionable policy guidance for the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs at all levels.
The HLPF in 2023, without prejudice to the integrated, indivisible and interlinked nature of the SDGs, will also review in-depth Goals 6 on clean water and sanitation, 7 on affordable and clean energy, 9 on industry, innovation and infrastructure, 11 on sustainable cities and communities, and 17 on partnerships for the Goals."
(excerpts from website)
--See the Provisional Program and other resources HERE.
High-Level Political Forum
UN SDG Summit September 2023
Save the dates--tune into the live and recorded events on UN WebTV
UN SDG Summit in New York (18-19 September 2023). High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development under the auspices of the General Assembly
"During the United Nations General Assembly high-level week in September 2023, Heads of State and Government will gather at the United Nations Headquarters in New York to review the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in July 2022 called for the Summit to “mark the beginning of a new phase of accelerated progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.”
The SDG Summit marks the mid-point of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. It will bring together political and thought leaders from governments, international organizations, private sector, civil society, women and youth and other stakeholders in a series of high-level meetings. They will carry out a comprehensive review of the state of the SDGs, respond to the impact of multiple and interlocking crises facing the world, and provide high-level political guidance on transformative and accelerated actions leading up to the 2030 deadline for achieving the SDGs. The SDG Summit will be chaired by the President of the General Assembly. The outcome of the Summit will be a negotiated political declaration.
The Summit will focus on people. It will culminate 10 months of active preparations involving governments, the UN system and other international and regional organizations, the private sector, NGOs, youth, cities, and multiple other actors and people. It will benefit from the proposals of an independent group of scientists through the Global Sustainable Development Report, the Secretary-General’s SDG progress report and analysis from the UN system, think tanks and others.
This will be the second SDG Summit, since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda in September 2015." (quote from UN website)
--See the upcoming Provisional Program and other resources HERE.
For perspective, watch the 2021 HLPF video overview HERE.
Being People of Faith-Hope-Love
California Coastline USA--Image courtesy and © ENOD 2016
"I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality.
This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”
Martin Luther King Jr. Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, 1964
We appreciate and enjoy connecting with people
from different faiths or of no particular faith.
People are people.
As people of faith who practice Christian spirituality, we are committed to responsibly engage with others in the challenges facing our world, locally through globally, while holding firmly to our belief that we are in God's hands. We pray that God's purposes "will be done on earth as they are in heaven;" acknowledge that prayer, repentance, and relationship with God are key to human-planetary wellbeing; and live in hope for the time when God through Jesus Christ will decisively intervene in human history with equity--righteousness and justice--to restore all things. And in the meantime, we seek to embrace lifestyles of integrity that prioritize a deep, practical love for truth, peace, and people.
We do not want to further problematize our world's plight by focusing primarily on the negative. Rather we want to also promote the many examples of the good going forward, as people of integrity find common ground for the common good.
Finally, we want to highlight that the despair and disillusion that result from seemingly intractable problems like corruption can also be quite positive. They can embody a crucial existential message about reality that can be "revisited"--explored and heeded--rather than simply "resisted." They can point us to Someone who is bigger than ourselves, the SDGs, humanity, and our world--the knowable, Eternal One who is both in and beyond space-time and who loves us all dearly.
The above thoughts build upon the Personal Reflections in Perils, Paralysis, Hope: Sustainable Development-Sustainable Destruction? (Global Integration Update, October 2022).
Member Care Associates
Living in Global Integrity--April 2017
Peace and Security--December 2016
Global Citizenship--June 2016
Faith-Based Partners in Transformation--August 2015
The Global Integration image used in this Update (the global pearl) is a cover detail from our edited book, Global Member Care (volume 2): Crossing Sectors for Serving Humanity (2013). William Carey Library.
it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be coworkers with God,
and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation.
Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from a Birmingham Jail (April 1963)