Sustainability in Development in the World of Today has become a concern for one and all for some time. The UN in its “Gathering a body of global agreements” has written the following definition of Sustainable Development.  It is a development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.  Within this definition two key concepts come to light:
  • the concept of ‘needs’, in particular the essential needs of the world’s poor, to which overriding priority should be given; and
  • the idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environment’s ability to meet present and future needs.
The aim is an economic and social development that must be defined in terms of sustainability in all countries with all required variations depending on the specifics of each country, etc.
Also, development should involve a progressive transformation of economy and society through concern for social equity between generations that must logically be extended to equity within each generation.
In our view, all the above is fine but we feel there is still some gaps between these precepts drawn at international level and the down to earth practicalities of everyday life in the discrete sets of different countries.
There has been an agreement in Paris in December 2015 followed by its signing off in Marrakesh the following year but up until now, we have yet to see any follow up. There is even talk of this agreement going to the sideways with new world leaders washing their hands off it.
In the meantime, the World Economic Forum as always at the forefront of these concerns, produced the following article written by Andrea Willige, Formative Content and published on Monday 20 March 2017. Here it is repreduced with thanks to the WEF and compliments to the author.

Which countries are achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals fastest?

Here’s who’s doing the most to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity

The Image above is of Ben White

More on the agenda

The ultimate aim of the Sustainable Development Goals, which replaced the Millennium Development Goals in 2015, is to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for everyone. Each goal has specific targets that need to be met by 2030.

So how close are countries to meeting them? To find out, non-profit organization Bertelsmann Stiftung and the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Networkhave created a prototype index that measures their performance.

Light blue is good
Image: SDG Index


The SDG Index measures 149 countries, comparing their current progress with a baseline measurement taken in 2015.

Here are the top performers this year:

Image: SDG Index and Dashboards

Across all 17 goals, Sweden tops the list of countries surveyed. It is, on average, 84.5% of the way to achieving the targets envisaged for 2030.

Following closely were Scandinavian neighbours, Denmark and Norway, with Finland in fourth place. Western European countries, plus Iceland (ninth), took the remainder of the top 10 slots and four of the top 20.

Also in the top 20 were Canada (13th), the Czech Republic (15th) and Slovenia (17th). Asia-Pacific’s top performers Japan, Singapore and Australia rounded off the list at 18th, 19th and 20th, respectively.

Don’t rest on your laurels

The SDG Index underlines that despite achieving high percentages, all countries still have their work cut out to close the remaining gap.

Image: SDG Index and Dashboards

The report stresses that many high-income countries perform well in areas such as economic development but still fall short of achieving a good all-round SDG performance. This is because they face significant challenges in specific areas such as climate-change mitigation, income inequality, gender equality and education.

The top three, for example – Sweden, Denmark and Norway – will need to focus particularly on evolving their energy systems from high-carbon to low-carbon sources to fulfill the environmental sustainability goals.

Countries where the report suggests support and solidarity is needed most:

Image: SDG Index and Dashboards

Not unexpectedly, some of the world’s poorest countries are near the bottom of the ranking. The SDGs are, after all, a demanding bunch: including a call to end extreme poverty and hunger, universal access to healthcare, education, safe water and sanitation, modern energy services, and decent work. These areas continue to be an uphill struggle for many nations.

“We know that some countries may be puzzled by their scores and that some will be unhappy with their place in the global rankings,” say Aart de Geus and Jeffrey D Sachs in the preface to the report. But if there are any mistakes or gaps in the data, they add, the beauty of an online report is that they can be corrected as quickly possible.

For those countries that aren’t yet showing results, such as the Central African Republic in the chart below, assistance may be necessary. It could come through international mechanisms such as foreign direct investment, technology sharing and global tax reform (so poor countries can fight tax evasion by international investors).

SDG Dashboards for Sweden and Central African Republic


Image: SDG Index and Dashboards

full report with data is available to download; or there is a compact version.

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