The yearly report of the UN Secretary-General on progress towards the 17 SDGs has been released ahead of the 2020 session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). The report draws on the latest available data on the indicators contained in the global SDG indicator framework as of April 2020. It also highlights implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on each SDG.

The 2020 SDG Progress Report finds “continued unevenness of progress” and identifies areas where significant improvement is required. Areas of progress until the end of 2019 included declining global poverty, falling rates of maternal and child mortality, access to electricity for more people, and the development of more national sustainable development policies and signing of international agreements for environmental protection. At the same time, progress was stalled or reversed on the number of people suffering from hunger, the rate of climate change, and increasing inequalities.

Progress is stalled or reversed on inequalities, the rate of climate change, and the number of people going hungry.

The report enumerates impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on groups of people and operations around the world, and how those effects are “imperiling progress” towards the SDGs. It reports that least developed countries (LDCs), land-locked developing countries (LLDCs), small island developing States (SIDS), and countries in humanitarian or fragile situations “stand to be hit hardest” due to fragile health systems, limited social protection coverage, limited financial and other resources, vulnerability to shocks, and dependence on international trade.

The UN Secretary-General urges that “recent gains are protected as much as possible and a truly transformative recovery from COVID-19 is pursued, one that reduces risk to future crises and brings much closer the inclusive and sustainable development required to meet the goals of the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.”

In addition to the Secretary-General’s annual progress report, the UN also releases a ‘Sustainable Development Goals Report’ that reviews the year’s progress in implementing the 2030 Agenda, uses infographics to present findings, and provides in-depth analysis of selected indicators. The two yearly reports are among the inputs to the HLPF session held each July.

Source: IISD