The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals Are Not Out of Reach
Prospects for achieving the SDGs by 2030 look dim. But innovation, technology, and creativity can turn the tide.
We are at the midway point on the journey that started in 2015 with the creation of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. The goals, 17 in all, aim to address some of society’s toughest challenges, including eradicating poverty, increasing lifespans and health, and tackling climate change.
But progress has been slower than we would have liked. Although we have seen lasting gains in areas related to some basic needs—for example, electricity and internet access—the COVID-19 pandemic marked a major setback. Related developments such as spikes in inflation and interest rates, as well as global events including Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, have created additional stress around issues such as food security and economic development.
Of the roughly 140 SDG-related targets for which data is available, only 12% are on track to be delivered by 2030. Some 50% are advancing slowly. And for more than 30% we see either stalling or even reversal of progress. All told, not one SDG has yet been achieved.
It’s not too late, however, to deliver on the SDGs. The world has more resources and capabilities to advance the human condition than at any time in history. We see five areas where action at scale can unlock rapid SDG progress:
The efforts and enablers listed here have proven effective at advancing many of the SDGs—and they could make a major difference if scaled. We should focus today on fully leveraging these opportunities. Together we can reignite momentum toward the SDGs and help create a more sustainable and equitable world for all.
ABOUT BOSTON CONSULTING GROUP
Boston Consulting Group partners with leaders in business and society to tackle their most important challenges and capture their greatest opportunities. BCG was the pioneer in business strategy when it was founded in 1963. Today, we work closely with clients to embrace a transformational approach aimed at benefiting all stakeholders—empowering organizations to grow, build sustainable competitive advantage, and drive positive societal impact.
Our diverse, global teams bring deep industry and functional expertise and a range of perspectives that question the status quo and spark change. BCG delivers solutions through leading-edge management consulting, technology and design, and corporate and digital ventures. We work in a uniquely collaborative model across the firm and throughout all levels of the client organization, fueled by the goal of helping our clients thrive and enabling them to make the world a better place.
© Boston Consulting Group 2024. All rights reserved.
For information or permission to reprint, please contact BCG at firstname.lastname@example.org. To find the latest BCG content and register to receive e-alerts on this topic or others, please visit bcg.com. Follow Boston Consulting Group on Facebook and X (formerly Twitter).