Almost four years after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, what progress has been made in the UNECE region towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and where do the greatest gaps remain?
The brief Snapshot of SDG performance in the UNECE region covers the five SDGs that will be under review at this year’s High-Level Political Forum: SDGs 4 (education), 8 (decent work and economic growth), 10 (reduced inequalities), 13 (climate action) and 16 (justice and strong institutions). These Goals are also in focus at this week’s 2019 Regional Forum on Sustainable Development for the UNECE region.
SDG 4: Despite strong progress on a range of education indicators, the region is not fully honouring its commitment to leave no one behind, contributing to the reproduction of inequalities
Greater efforts are required to ensure inclusive education throughout the region. A significant rural-urban divide exists in most countries and low socio-economic status is a major predictor of educational underperformance.
Migrants are falling behind in educational performance in most countries, and marginalized groups are often excluded from data collection and thus invisible in national indicators.
Large gaps also remain between countries in access to education for students with disabilities.
While unemployment has fallen across the region, it remains very high in some countries.
Despite some progress, the share of young people not working or studying remains high - at 15.8 % of young people aged 18 to 24 within the European Union.
Persistent gender pay gaps are a challenge in all UNECE countries, serving as a barrier to gender equality as a driver of sustainable development.
More must also be done to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation: while domestic material consumption per capita has declined in parts of the region, the overall material footprint per capita is relatively high.
SDG 10: While inequality in the UNECE region is generally lower than in other parts of the world, it is on the rise in many countries
This trend Includes some advanced economies with more developed social protection systems.
In some cases, this has been accompanied by stagnating or falling incomes. Almost one quarter of people in the EU are estimated to be at risk of poverty or social exclusion, although significant differences exist between countries.
While social protection systems contribute to reducing inequality, reaching out to the poorest sectors of the population remains a challenge in some countries.
SDG 13: Climate action requires much greater efforts in all countries of the region
Progress in reducing CO2 emissions in the UNECE region has been slow and while its global share is declining, emissions per capita remain much higher than global averages.
As countries are increasingly experiencing the effects of climate-related disasters, efforts to strengthen resilience are urgently required.
Facing up to its global responsibility, climate finance from the UNECE region is growing – notably thanks to increasing commitments from multilateral development banks – but more resources will be required to accelerate change.
The active use by the public of UNECE’s Aarhus Convention, which facilitates access to information, participation and access to justice in environmental matters, is one example of the region’s successful experiences towards ensuring strong, accountable institutions as a foundation for peaceful societies.
Progress is being made to strengthen governance across the region but addressing persisting inequalities will require sustained efforts.
The Snapshot Report: SDGs in the UNECE region can be accessed at: https://www.unece.org/DAM/RCM_Website/RFSD_2019_SDG_Snapshot_Report.pdf