Extreme poverty, access to drinking water, inequalities between men and women… The objectives that the world has set itself to improve the lot of humanity are “in danger”, alerted the UN on Monday, calling for a “bailout plan” so that no one is left behind.
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In 2015, the “Agenda 2030” adopted by UN Member States listed 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), broken down into 169 targets, intended to build a better and more sustainable future for all at the end of this decade.
But “unless we act now, the 2030 Agenda could become the epitaph of the world that could have been,” warns UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in the preamble to the report assessing these SDGs which will be at the heart of a summit scheduled for September 18 and 19.
While the principle was to leave no one by the wayside, “halfway through, this promise is in jeopardy”, judges the report, with “more than half the world” left behind. The SDGs “disappear in the rearview mirror, along with the hope and rights of current and future generations”.
Thus, from health to the fight against climate change, from access to energy to inequalities, of the some 140 “targets” that have been assessed, more than 30% have recorded no progress, or even a regression since 2015, and about half show a moderate or severe deviation from the expected trajectory.
For example, the Covid-19 pandemic halted the downward trend in extreme poverty (less than $2.15 a day).
At the current rate, 575 million people will still be living in these conditions in 2030, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa, i.e. a 30% drop since 2015, far from the hoped-for eradication.
“Shockingly, the world has returned to levels of hunger not seen since 2005,” the report also points out. About one in three humans (2.3 billion people) lived in moderate or severe food insecurity in 2021, and child malnutrition is still a “global problem”.
And 1.1 billion people live in urban areas in slum-like conditions, a number that is expected to increase by 2 billion over the next 30 years.
The pandemic, which has highlighted the fragility of many advances, has had a “devastating” impact on education in particular. Without new measures, only one in six countries will reach the goal of universal access to secondary education in 2030 and 84 million children will not go to school.
In terms of gender equality, the report again highlights progress that is “too slow”, noting that at the current pace, it would take 286 years to close the gap in terms of legal protection and the removal of discriminatory laws, and 300 years to end child marriage.
And developing countries, “buried under a mountain of debt”, “are the most affected by our collective failure to invest in the Sustainable Development Goals”, underlines Antonio Guterres, who constantly calls for reform of international financial institutions.
“We cannot persist with an unscrupulous financial system and expect developing countries to achieve goals that developed countries have achieved with far fewer constraints,” the report adds.
In this context, the UN calls for the adoption at the September summit of a “rescue plan” for the SDGs.
This would notably require a new strong political commitment but also support for Antonio Guterres’ proposal for a recovery plan of 500 billion additional dollars per year by 2030 to finance this sustainable development.
Despite the gloomy picture painted by the report, the UN highlights some signs of hope.
Thus, infant mortality fell by 12% between 2015 and 2021, and by 2030, nearly 150 countries should reach their target in this area.
With 5.3 billion people connected in 2022, internet access has greatly increased, while the number of AIDS-related deaths has fallen by 52% since 2010.
Since 2015, the proportion of the population with access to safe drinking water or sanitation services has also increased.
But as with many SDG targets, progress does not mean success: 2.2 billion people still lacked access to safe water in 2022 and 419 million had no choice but to defecate. outdoors.