Sustainable development goals

The SDGs are not on track — new report outlines what needs to happen

The 15 Sustainable Development Goals were adopted in 2015 and are supposed to be achieved by 2030. Photo: UN Photo/Cia Pak via Flickr.

Humanity is set to miss the Sustainable Development Goals. But decisive and timely policy actions can kickstart extraordinary turnarounds and a giant leap toward achieving the SDGs

Story highlights

  • SDGs implementation can be accelerated by enacting five ‘extraordinary turnarounds’
  • Such a ‘Giant Leap’ could enable huge progress on poverty, inequality, empowerment, food and energy
  • Modelling shows the damage that could be caused if the world continues with current economic policies

Ahead of the United Nations’ SDG Summit, Earth4All, an international team of economists and scientists supported by among others the Stockholm Resilience Centre, and the Foundation for European Progressive Studies, unveil ground-breaking research showing that policymakers can ensure the implementation of SDGs by 2050.

We are off track with the SDGs. But our work shows that we can still turn this around, to the point where most of them are within reach by 2050.

Centre researcher David Collste

In a new report, a group of experts including Centre researcher David Collste, present policymakers with practical solutions designed to accelerate SDG implementation and to respond to the planetary emergency.

“We are off track with the SDGs. But our work shows that we can still turn this around, to the point where most of them are within reach by 2050. What we need for this now are courageous and far-reaching policies,” explains Centre researcher David Collste, one of the report’s authors.

Extraordinary turnarounds

The report “SDGs for All” concludes that policymakers can step up the implementation of the SDGs by 2030 and beyond and achieve well-being for all. But this is only possible by enacting five ‘extraordinary turnarounds’ that break with current trends.

  • Ending poverty through reform of the international financial system, lifting 3-4 billion people out of poverty
  • Addressing gross inequality by ensuring that the wealthiest 10% take less than 40% of national incomes
  • Empowering women to achieve full gender equity by 2050
  • Transforming the food system to provide healthy diets for people and planet
  • Transitioning to clean energy to reach net zero emissions by 2050

The project team around David Collste presented these findings to the United Nations.
The “SDGs for All” report is built upon the book Earth for All: A Survival Guide for Humanity, published in 2022.

Too little too late? Or a giant leap?

In the report, the experts explore two different scenarios:

  1. “Too Little Too Late” – a decision-making as usual approach resulting in deepening wealth inequality, growing social tensions and limited efforts to address climate and ecological risks. As a result, global temperature increases to 2.5°C by 2100 putting the stability of the earth system at risk. Wellbeing continues to dramatically decline globally, and it takes until 2100 to eradicate extreme poverty.
  2. “The Giant Leap” – an alternative, achievable path costing 2-4% GDP per annum that empowers society to make ambitious decisions by implementing five extraordinary turnarounds simultaneously across poverty, inequality, empowerment, food and energy. As a result, temperatures would stabilise below 2°C, material consumption is reduced, extreme poverty is eradicated by 2050, social tensions fall dramatically, inequality is reduced, and well-being rises exponentially. If policymakers around the world embrace this “Giant Leap”, huge improvements for people and planet are possible.

“The Giant Leap scenario offers a way out of the current planetary emergency and a pathway for attaining the majority of SDGs by 2050. However, this will require a radical transformation away from today’s extractive economy dominated by GDP growth to well-being economies that place a value on people, planet and prosperity”, comments Sandrine Dixson-Declève, co-president of The Club of Rome, co-author of Earth for All and co-lead of the Earth4All initiative.

Read the report “SDGs for All” here »

Published: 2023-09-14

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