Denmark, Sweden and Finland – top the SDG Index 2019 (Bertelsmann Stiftung, June 2019)

From the report’s Executive Summary:

“The Sustainable Development Report 2019 presents an updated SDG Index and Dashboards with a refined assessment of countries’ distance to SDG targets.

Once again, Nordic countries – Denmark, Sweden and Finland – top the SDG Index.

Yet, even these countries face major challenges in implementing one or several SDGs. No country is on track for achieving all 17 goals with major performance gaps even in the top countries on SDG 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production), SDG 13 (Climate Action), SDG 14 (Life Below Water) and SDG 15 (Life on Land). Income and wealth inequalities, as well as gaps in health and education outcomes by population groups also remain important policy challenges in developing and developed countries alike.

The Sustainable Development Report 2019 generates seven major findings

1. High-level political commitment to the SDGs is falling short of historic promises In September 2019, heads-of-states and governments will convene for the first time in person at the UN in New York to review progress on their promises made four years after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda. Yet, our in-depth analyses show that many have not taken the critical steps to implement the SDGs. Out of 43 countries surveyed on SDG implementation efforts, including all G20 countries and countries with a population greater than 100 million, 33 countries have endorsed the SDGs in official statements since January 1st, 2018. Yet in only 18 of them do central budget documents mention the SDGs. This gap between rhetoric and action must be closed.

2. The SDGs can be operationalized through six SDG Transformations SDG implementation can be organized along the following Transformations: 1. Education, Gender, and Inequality; 2. Health, Wellbeing, and Demography; 3. Energy Decarbonization and Sustainable Industry; 4. Sustainable Food, Land, Water, Oceans; 5. Sustainable Cities and Communities; and 6. Digital Revolution for Sustainable Development. The transformations respect strong interdependencies across the SDGs and can be operationalized by well-defined parts of governments in collaboration with civil society, business, and other stakeholders. They must be underpinned and guided by the principles of Leave No One Behind and Circularity and Decoupling of resource use from human wellbeing.

3. Trends on climate (SDG 13) and biodiversity (SDG 14 and SDG 15) are alarming On average, countries obtain their worst scores on SDG 13 (Climate Action), SDG 14 (Life Below Water) and SDG 15 (Life on Land). No country obtains a “green rating” (synonym of SDG achieved) on SDG 14 (Life Below Water). Trends on greenhouse gas emissions and, even more so, on threatened species are moving in the wrong direction. These findings are in line with the recent reports from the IPCC and IPBES on climate change mitigation and biodiversity protection, respectively.

4. Sustainable land-use and healthy diets require integrated agriculture, climate and health policy interventions Land use and food production are not meeting people’s needs. Agriculture destroys forests and biodiversity, squanders water and releases one-quarter of global greenhouse-gas emissions. In total, 78% of world nations for which data are available obtain a “red rating” (synonym of major SDG challenge) on sustainable nitrogen management; the highest number of “red” rating across all indicators included in the report. At the same time, one-third of food is wasted, 800 million people remain undernourished, 2 billion are deficient in micronutrients, and obesity is on the rise. New indicators on nations’ trophic level and yield gap closure highlight the depth of the challenge. Transformations towards sustainable landuse and food systems are required to balance efficient and resilient agriculture and forestry with biodiversity conservation and restoration as well as healthy diets.
x Sustainable Development Report 2019 Transformations to achieve the SDGs

5. High-income countries generate high environmental and socio-economic spillover effects Domestic implementation of the SDGs should not undermine other countries’ ability to achieve the goals. International demand for palm oil and other commodities fuels tropical deforestation. Tax havens and banking secrecy undermine other countries’ ability to raise the public revenues needed to finance the SDGs. Tolerance for poor labor standards in international supply chains harms the poor, and particularly women in many developing countries. New evidence presented in this report shows that high-income countries generate negative impacts on fatal accidents at work, typically by importing products and services from low- and middle-income countries with poor labor standards and conditions.

6. Human rights and freedom of speech are in danger in numerous countries Under SDG 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions), fair and transparent institutions are recognized as objectives in themselves but also as important levers for sustainable development. Yet, conflicts in many parts of the world continue to lead to reversals in SDG progress. Modern slavery and the share of unsentenced detainees in prison remain high, in particular in low-income countries. Trends on corruption and freedom of press are worsening in more than 50 countries covered in the report – including in a number of middle and high-income countries.

7. Eradicating poverty and strengthening equity remain important policy priorities Eradicating extreme poverty remains a global challenge with half of the world’s nations not on track for achieving SDG 1 (No Poverty). More timely data is needed to inform policy interventions. In middle- and high-income countries rising income inequalities and persistent gaps in access to services and opportunities by income or territorial areas remain important policy issues. Women in OECD countries continue to spend an average of 2 hours more than men a day doing unpaid work.”

Read more here or use this link to Bertelsmann Stiftung.

Sources: All texts, content, quotes and graphics by Bertelsmann Stiftung. All credits and rights to Bertelsmann Stiftung.

UN Global Compact: Report on global goals and ocean’s opportunities (January 2019)

Quote from UNGC report “Global goals, Ocean Opportunities” foreword by Lise Kingo:

“The rapid deterioration of ocean health, which deeply affects biodiversity, coastal communities and the health of the planet, must be urgently addressed. As this report shows, this deterioration is, like climate change, caused by human activity. We need the capacity and competence of the business community to solve this challenge.More

Sweden, Denmark and Finland, top the global SDG Index ranking 2018 (report by Bertelsmann Stiftung)

Bertelsmann Stiftungs Executive Summary for the report:

Global findings

This year, three Nordic countries, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland, top the global SDG Index ranking, yet all three still face major challenges in achieving the SDGs. Due to several changes in indicators and some adjustments in the methodology, the results from the 2018 SDG Index and Dashboard are not comparable to the 2017 results. In particular, changes in country scores or rankings cannot be interpreted as SDG progress or regress since last year.More

The right way to support the sustainable development goals (April 2018)

Source: MIT Sloan Management Review, April 2018

Are Companies Succeeding at the SDGs or at “SDG Washing”?

When 193 member states launched the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the United Nations in 2015, it was not clear how businesses could contribute to an agenda that covered such wide-ranging topics as eliminating poverty and hunger and promoting peaceful, just, and strong institutions worldwide.More

MIT Sloan Management Review: Supporting sustainable development goals is easier than you might think (February 2018)

It is possible for business to be both sustainable and profitable — but some sectors have a smoother path than others.

Companies and investors are being asked to support the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030 — what some have described as “the closest thing the Earth has to a strategy”— since the public sector alone does not have the resources to do so. At the same time, companies must create value for their shareholders to create the returns they need for their ultimate beneficiaries.

In essence, both are being asked to do good and do well at the same time.More