Vienna, 12 October 2023 - As the world passes the halfway mark to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, representatives from governments, civil society, academia, and the business sector gathered in Vienna on 12 October in a bid to foster innovative ideas for realizing the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
The event was hosted by the Federal Administration of Austria, SDG Watch Austria, and the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens.
Addressing the representatives, the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Ms. Ghada Waly, noted that global crises were “relentlessly eroding the development gains of the last decade at an alarming rate.”
The impact of such crises on sustainable development has taken a severe toll on progress towards the 2030 Agenda. As highlighted by Ms. Waly, the most recent SDG Progress Report reveals that only 15 per cent of targets are on track, while progress has either stalled or regressed on 37 per cent of SDGs.
SDG 16 in particular – on peace, justice, and strong institutions – has seen little to no progress, as exposed by a new UNODC report launched with the UN Development Programme and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
As Ms. Waly added: “Last year alone saw nearly 17,000 civilians killed in 12 of the world’s deadliest conflicts, while homicides reached a 20-year high.”
Turning words into action
“But amidst this bleak outlook, there is reason to be optimistic,” Ms. Waly continued, pointing to the landmark declaration adopted by world leaders during the SDG Summit in New York in September 2023 as an example.
The declaration recommitted governments to game-changing action. According to Ms. Waly, accelerated action on the rule of law, preventing and combating illicit financial flows, gender equality, and easing the global digital divide “provides a clear path forward to rescue the SDGs.”
She noted that the declaration – as well as the ‘whole-of-society’ approach embodied in the forum - “shows that even in today’s deeply polarized and fractured world, it is possible to come together and reach consensus in a multilateral forum.”“We have just seven years left to rescue the Global Goals,” she concluded, “so let’s ensure that each year counts, for a brighter, more prosperous, and sustainable future for all.”