Sept 20, Colombo: Addressing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Summit 2023, Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe delivered a stark assessment of the global progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
He emphasized that the current state of SDG advancement is globally unsatisfactory, with only 12% of the targets on track while no progress has been made in 30% of the other critical targets.
President Wickremesinghe drew attention to the backdrop of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, encompassing the 17 SDGs, which was adopted by United Nations Member States in 2015.
During the same year, the Paris Agreement, a landmark pact adopted by 196 countries at COP21, emerged as another progressive global initiative. However, the President noted that despite these ambitious endeavors, there has been a severe scarcity of resources dedicated to their successful implementation.
The global pandemic that unfolded in 2020 dealt a devastating blow to these programs. Economic growth stagnated and numerous sectors witnessed a complete absence of economic activity. This exacerbated the already existing global debt crisis, pushing many nations, including Sri Lanka, to the brink of bankruptcy. The looming question now is whether the SDGs remain achievable in the current, resource-constrained scenario.
Taking Sri Lanka as an example, President Wickremesinghe revealed that prior estimates in 2019 indicated that approximately 9% of the country’s GDP would need to be invested to attain these ambitious targets. However, the economic fallout from the pandemic and the ensuing crisis have made this goal increasingly unrealistic. The President underscored the fact that Sri Lanka’s climate prosperity plan alone requires a substantial investment of US $26.5 billion before 2030, a sum that is increasingly challenging to secure.
The dire financial situation extends beyond Sri Lanka, impacting many regions of Asia and Africa. Even countries that have managed to avoid bankruptcy are grappling with the consequences of the ongoing crisis. The G20 summit recently reaffirmed that developing nations require a staggering $5.9 trillion in financing by 2030 to fulfill their nationally determined contributions. Additionally, an annual investment of $4 trillion is essential for the adoption of clean energy technologies to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
President Wickremesinghe called for a critical examination of whether these figures are feasible in the face of the unprecedented financial calamity affecting many nations. He stressed that the Paris Summit for New Global Financing Act holds promise in addressing financial challenges. However, he concluded by emphasizing the urgent need to determine concrete actions to navigate this complex and daunting landscape of global financing.