The present Global Sustainable Development Report was prepared following the decision of the United Nations Member States at the 2016 high-level political forum for sustainable development (HLPF). The Report reflects the universal, indivisible and integrated nature of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It also seeks to strengthen the science-policy interface as an evidence-based instrument to support policymakers and other stakeholders in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda across the social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.
The Global Sustainable Development Report was prepared by an independent group of scientists appointed by the Secretary-General, comprising 15 experts from various regions and representing a variety of scientific disciplines and institutions. The Report uses the latest scientific assessments, evidence bases about good practices, and scenarios that link future trajectories to current actions to identify calls to action by a range of stakeholders that can accelerate progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Report, requested by all countries to evaluate progress on the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, is the first of its kind since the landmark Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted four years ago. Entitled “The Future is Now: Science for Achieving Sustainable Development,” the report finds that the current development model is not sustainable, and the progress made in the last two decades is in danger of being reversed through worsening social inequalities and potentially irreversible declines in the natural environment that sustains us. The scientists concluded that a far more optimistic future is still attainable, but only by drastically changing development policies, incentives and actions.
The Ρeport’s Call to Action identifies 20 points where interventions can create transformative and accelerated progress towards multiple goals and targets in the coming decade. These targeted actions are based on the recent scientific literature analysing the deeper systemic interconnections that identify synergies and trade-offs between individual goals and targets.
The report advocates for universal access to quality basic services—healthcare, education, water and sanitation infrastructure, housing and social protection—as a prerequisite to elimination of poverty and advances in human well-being, with special attention given to persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups. The report calls for renewed attention to ending legal and social discrimination, and for strengthened unions, nongovernmental organizations, women’s groups and other community organizations, finding them all to be important partners in efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda.
Science must play a major role in advancing sustainable development. Universities, policymakers and research funders must increase support to research guided by the 2030 Agenda. Simultaneously, researchers in sustainability science and other disciplines, must work together to solve development problems and strengthen the science-policy-society interface, providing society and policy-makers information they can use to solve development problems.
The report makes the case for shifting current research priorities and supporting innovative approaches to sustainability science, emphasizing cross-disciplinary partnerships, and committing support and resources to scientific institutions, particularly in the global South. Development aid budgets should prioritize boosting scientific capacity and access in the global South. UN Member States, research consortia and libraries should work together to improve cross-border and inter-disciplinary collaborations in science for the SDGs.