New Index on SDG Achievement for High-Income Countries
September 16, 2015  //  By:   //  Blog Post, Featured  //  No Comment

SDG ReportWith only a couple of weeks until the UN General Assembly is due to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals, there is an enormous amount of analysis, publications, and chatter regarding the future of UN-led sustainable development. One such publication offers a unique perspective: it is the first large-scale SDG-related analysis to index how far along high-income countries are towards achieving the ambitious targets set out in the goals.

Sustainable Development Goals: Are the Rich Countries Ready? is authored by Christian Kroll, features a forward by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, and comes out of the large German foundation Bertelsmann Stiftung. This publication addresses a key aspect of the SDGs that differentiate them from their predecessors the MDGs: they apply to both low and high-income countries. Whereas the MDGs were intended to focus aid and development funds on a certain set of priorities for low-income countries, the SDGs address a broader range of topics that fall under the umbrella of sustainable development for all countries. While we expect that high-income countries will be farther along the road to achieving the SDGs, they are designed to be relevant for countries at all levels of development. Therefore, we should also expect high-income countries to lag behind in certain areas, and that is exactly what Bertelsmann Stiftung’s index shows.

While we advise to read the report to check out the visualization of the index, here are a few key points:

  • With their high standards of living, shrinking gender disparities, and more, the Nordic countries are farthest along and most prepared for fully achieving the SDGs.
  • Income disparity is one of the biggest issues across high-income countries. Reducing the gap between the wealthy and the poor will be one of the biggest obstacles for achieving the SDGs.
  • The striking gaps in achievement among high-income countries can be a source of learning and innovation. Best practices in carbon-reduction from Sweden, for example, can inform efforts to reduce carbon in high emitters like the United States.

To read the full report or the executive summary, click here.

About the Author :

Michael Denney is a PhD student in the Global Governance and Human Security program at the University of Massachusetts Boston. He is a Research Associate at the Center for Governance and Sustainability.

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