SDGs: Greater urgency is needed to meet environmental goals, improved data is likely essential |
Despite advances in areas such as clean water, sanitation, clean energy and forest management, the world still lives unsustainably and biodiversity loss and climate change have continued to deteriorate.
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“We still have not adopted the pace of change necessary to align with the 2030 Agenda“Said Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, executive secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, who produced the study in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).
“The report makes it clear that we are falling short and in some cases we are backing down. The world cannot sustain our rate of use and abuse indefinitely, and it is imperative that we embrace the changes in lifestyles and livelihoods necessary to meet the 2030 goals. ”
The SDGs are at the heart of 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which sets out internationally agreed goals in areas such as poverty, hunger, health, climate action, clean energy and responsible consumption.
The Measuring Progress report examines data and information on the environmental aspects of each of the 17 goals, and how countries are progressing based on the assessment across the respective SDG indicators.
The authors saw an increase in downward trends among more metrics compared to the previous progress report released in 2019.
Since the SDGs are interrelated, the achievement of one goal or target could contribute to the achievement of other goals or targets, while the pursuit of one goal may conflict with the achievement of another.
The researchers tested the relationship between the SDG indicators, using a data-driven analytical approach. Among the links they uncovered was the fact that domestic material consumption (DMC) related to biomass extraction is “negatively correlated” with endangered species.
On the other hand, the increase in protected areas and other measures to safeguard biodiversity have not led to a reduction in the number of endangered species, which means that a global strategy of decade to conserve biodiversity by 2020 has been missed.
Better data for a greener planet
The report calls for improved data and indicators to understand how to ensure that development progresses in a practical way.
Gaps have been identified in the diversity and use of environmental data and statistics to inform government policies, especially “environmental big data” produced through technologies such as remote sensing and artificial intelligence.
In addition, many existing data, statistics and indicator products appear to be underutilized, while governments have also failed to focus on these data in policy development or decision making.
“Our understanding of the environmental dimension of the SDGs is lagging behind,” said Jian Liu, Director of the Science Division at UNEP.
“Our limited capacities to collect, disseminate and effectively use environmental data have hampered our comprehensive understanding of the environment and the effect of socio-economic factors – we hope this report will help countries to strengthen their action on the environmental dimensions in view of the 2030 Agenda. ”