SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS – (SDGs)

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These days we hear the word ‘sustainability a lot. The awareness about this concept of sustainability has been increasing in recent times. The Cambridge Dictionary defines sustainability as “the quality of causing little or no damage to the environment and therefore able to continue for a long time”. The importance of this concept has been rising in recent years or decades. In the coming years, being able to achieve a sustainable environment and growth will help humans and all living things to live a life worth enjoying. With the increasing industries, pollution, ozone layer depletion, global warming, etc. the chances of us being able to provide a healthy future to the coming generations as well as ourselves leading a better life are decreasing. Hence, in 2015 the world leaders agreed for this cause and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were decided to be achieved by 2030.

A little history about the Sustainable Development Goals. These goals today are a replacement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MDGs were put in place as a global effort for tackling the indignity of poverty, in 2000. These goals were a driving force for the progress in multiple areas like reduction of income poverty, provision of access to water and sanitation, slowing down the child mortality rate, giving a kick-start to a movement for free primary education at global level, fighting malaria, tuberculosis and other diseases that can be treated as well as HIV/AIDS, etc. and much more. Even though the Goals were not achieved completely, there’s always something to learn from. The MDGs too gave experience and important lessons for the new goals.

“The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were born at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro in 2012. The objective was to produce a set of universal goals that meet the urgent environmental, political and economic challenges facing our world.” – UNDP. The SDGs need to be addressed urgently, to take the world on a path that is more sustainable. There are 17 Sustainable Development Goals – SDGs. Let’s take a look at them.

  1. NO POVERTY – End poverty in all its forms everywhere.
  2. ZERO HUNGER – End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.
  3. GOOD HEALTH AND WELL-BEING – Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.
  4. QUALITY EDUCATION – Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
  5. GENDER EQUALITY – Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
  6. CLEAN WATER AND SANITATION – Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
  7. AFFORDABLE AND CLEAN ENERGY – Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.
  8. DECENT WORK AND ECONOMIC GROWTH – Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.
  9. INDUSTRY, INNOVATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE – Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.
  10. REDUCED INEQUALITIES – Reduce inequality within and among countries.
  11. SUSTAINABLE CITIES AND COMMUNITIES – Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.
  12. RESPONSIBLE CONSUMPTION AND PRODUCTION – Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.
  13. CLIMATE ACTION – Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impact.
  14. LIFE BELOW WATER – Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.  
  15. LIFE ON LAND – Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.
  16. PEACE, JUSTICE AND STRONG INSTITUTIONS – Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.
  17. PARTNERSHIPS FOR THE GOALS – Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.

A decade of Action: The Decade of Action is the period till 2030 starting from 2020. The aim or target is to achieve the above-mentioned 17 Goals by 2030. “The Decade of Action calls for accelerating sustainable solutions to all the world’s biggest challenges — ranging from poverty and gender to climate change, inequality and closing the finance gap.” – UN. These goals can turn into a reality when all the people come together when all the institutions and governments come together. The UN Secretary-General in September 2019 urged the society and all its sectors to mobilize for the Decade of Action on three levels namely, global action focusing on leadership, resources and solutions for SDGs, local action focusing on changes required in budgets, policies, regulatory frameworks of the governments, etc. and finally, people action which consists of participation and efforts from the youth, media, private sector, etc. According to the UN, the Decade of Action will, “Mobilize everyone, everywhere”, “Demand urgency and ambition” and “Supercharge ideas to solutions”.

SDGs in India:

NITI Aayog, i.e., National Institution for Transforming India was established for driving cooperative federalism, and hence, partnerships are one of its foundational principles. It has taken concrete actions and affirmative measures for cooperatively taking ahead of the partnerships with the diverse stakeholders for accelerating the progress of the SDGs. For the SDG localization, it has partnered with Union ministries and State governments. There are also partnerships between the State governments and the district administrations of the respective states that are crucial for SDG localization. There doesn’t exist any particular or specific set of rules and guidelines for SDG localization and hence the partnerships and collaboration are multifaceted and complex in nature. “NITI Aayog, in partnership with the UN in India, has been promoting the localization of SDGs at the policy level through the GoI-UN Sustainable Development Framework, and NITI Aayog-UNDP Partnership Framework for Inclusive and Equitable Growth” – SDG India Index and Dashboard 2020-2021- Partnerships in the Decade of Action. 

NITI Aayog is presciently taking ahead these partnerships for SDGs in India for three reasons. First, the scope of the framework of priorities cannot be achieved by a single policy, government, or scheme. There are initiatives that need to be implemented on all levels for achieving the goals. From national and sub-national (State/UT) to all the way down to city and village the initiatives need to be implemented. This helps the goals to be achieved on time. It also requires coordination by all the relevant ministries, departments as well as local bodies. In such a scenario, partnerships are crucial and NITI Aayog hence acts as the “partnership builder”. Second, it is understood that the role of governments and various departments is essential, however, at the same time, it needs to be understood that government alone will not be able to achieve the goals. So, “SDGs call for a “whole-of-society” approach with active intervention from all stakeholders. The CSOs and the private sector play a pivotal role in determining the pace of progress. The only way to ensure consistent and continuous participation of these key stakeholders is by building long-term and mutually beneficial partnerships.” – SDG India Index and Dashboard 2020-2021- Partnerships in the Decade of Action. For this again, NITI Aayog is the facilitator. (CSOs are Civil Society Organisations). Third, SDGs have an ambitious framework that challenges the “implementation and monitoring mechanisms”. From the UN system that facilitated the creation of this framework and CSOs to businesses that are given a push to report sustainability, there are many important factors that are a part of this entire framework. NITI Aayog, at the national level, is aptly positioned “to set and support ambitious goals…” for the coordination for achieving these SDGs.

NITI Aayog has developed partnerships which basically are divided into three categories:

Type 1 – LEVERAGE/EXCHANGE

Type 2 – COMBINE/INTEGRATE

Type 3 – TRANSFORM 

The statistics and reports on the performance of States and UTs on SDGs tell us that overall, the states in India have been in two categories namely, front runners and performers. There are four categories in total, Aspirant, Performer, Front Runner, and Achiever according to the score range. The table below shows which States and UTs are front runners and which of them are performers.

Front Runner Performers
KeralaMaharashtraTripuraManipurArunachal Pradesh
Himachal Pradesh  GujratDelhiMadhya PradeshUttar Pradesh
Tamil NaduTelanganaLakshadweepWest BengalJharkhand
Andhra PradeshUttarakhandPuducherryOdishaBihar
KarnatakaMizoramChandigarhChhattisgarhAssam
SikkimPunjabAndaman and Nicobar IslandsRajasthanDadra and Nagar Haveli, Diu and Daman.
GoaHaryanaJammu and KashmirMeghalaya 
  LadakhNagaland 

The 100-score mark has been achieved by the following States and UTs for SDG7 or the seventh goal, i.e., Affordable and Clean Energy. These states and UTs are Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Karnataka, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, Maharashtra, Telangana, Mizoram, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Chandigarh, Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. Goa and Lakshadweep have also scored 100 in SDG6 i.e., Clean Water and Sanitation. Chandigarh has scored 100 in SDG 10 i.e., Reduced Inequalities. When analyzed goal-wise, the states fall into the above-mentioned four categories.

References:

SDG India Index and Dashboard 2020-2021- Partnerships in the Decade of Action. 

https://www.globalgoals.org/

https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/decade-of-action/

https://www1.undp.org/content/oslo-governance-centre/en/home/sustainable-development-goals/background.html

https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/sustainability

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