The pace of progress on the Sustainable Development Goals is insufficient to achieve set targets by 2030 – Joint Report

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Addis Ababa, 21 April 2024 (ECA) – Africa is making progress in 12 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but the current pace of progress is insufficient to achieve the goals by 2030, according to an experts report on the progress on Africa Sustainable Development.

The report was produced by a team of experts convened by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), in collaboration with the African Union Commission, the United Nations Development Programme Regional Bureau for Africa (UNDP-RBA), and the African Development Bank (AfDB) ahead of the 10th Session of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD-10) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The report indicates that progress on the SDG agendas varies across subregions. West and North Africa are the best performers. While East Africa has relatively low performance.

“None of the subregions is on track to achieving the SDGs goals. There is also a general issue of lack of data in tracking the progress in Africa,” says the experts report.

Antonio Pedro, the Deputy Executive Secretary for Programme Support at the ECA underlined the lack of robust data as a major hurdle in tracking progress accurately. Improving data systems to effectively monitor and achieve the SDGs is essential, he stressed.“

Addressing wide-ranging challenges—including social, political, environmental, and economic—is essential; specific focus areas like women’s empowerment, peacebuilding, and security need to be targeted attention,” said Mr Pedro, stressing the need to take advantage of technological advances, including artificial intelligence, to target interventions and achieve the SDGs with greater efficiency.

He said there is a need to foster domestic resource mobilization through evolving a better and more innovative tax system. Countries need to improve institutional governance, strengthen data collection, analysis and reporting and devise better strategies for debt restructuring.

The SDGs goals on the ARFSD-10 agenda are Goal 1 (No poverty), Goal 2 (Zero Hunger), Goal 13 (Climate Action), Goal 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions; and Goal 17 (Partnerships for the Goals) and the corresponding goals of Agenda 2063.

On goal 1 (No poverty), the report shows that poverty in Africa is dynamic, deep-rooted, and multi-faceted. So, attention should also be paid to vulnerable people who are at risk of falling into poverty.

Africa still accounts for over half (54.8%) of global poverty. Particular attention therefore needs to be paid to addressing child poverty – the number of children living in extremely poor households, as about 7 out of 10 poor children live in Africa. In addition, lack of access to clean water, sanitation, energy, health, and education services coupled with inequality, infrastructure gaps, climate change, ethnic conflicts and limited employment opportunities are among the key drivers of poverty in Africa.

On goal 2 (Zero Hunger), the report findings highlight the occurrence of both micro and macro shocks that include COVID-19, climate change, the war on Ukraine, military coups and their ripple effects on food security and hunger in Africa. In the past few years, food has been a major driver of upward inflationary trends.

Now there is localized famine across different regions due to the impact of climate change and conflicts. Since 2015, the fight against hunger has stagnated.“The big deviation from zero hunger is expected to be 600 million hungry people by 2030, based on data reviewed between 2019 and 2023,” says the report.

Ramiz Alakbarov, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator said, that Africa must focus on the development of resilience and the reduction of dependency on humanitarian aid, which is a counterproductive reliance that must be eliminated.“Africa needs to have a roadmap that promotes self-sustenance and independence, a crucial step for the continent’s growth and autonomy,” she said.

On SDG 13, the report shows that 60% of worldwide climate disasters were recorded in Africa. 12.5 million Africans were adversely impacted by climate disasters. African economies lost US$ 13.7 billion to adverse climate events. There is scant progress in adopting and domesticating disaster risk reduction policy in Africa. Only 29 countries have national risk reduction strategies in Africa. Few African countries have mainstreamed climate change into national plans which are highly lopsided on building resilience in the agricultural sector alone.

On climate financing, the progress report shows the high climate financing gap in Africa. A large chunk of these resources emanates from the public sector compared to private sector climate financing.“Issues of policies on the carbon market, debt for climate swaps, and carbon tax on natural resources, as well as the establishment of the national sustainable financial framework for climate change, should be addressed,” says the report.

On goal 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions), the report notes that there is a slight decrease in homicide rates over the years in Africa. This trend, although small, suggests a gradual movement towards a safer continent.

The report shows a stark contrast between countries in their budget management. Sudan and Zimbabwe, for example, are struggling with high expenditures surpassing their budgets, which could stem from a variety of economic pressures and policy decisions.

Noting the recent studies by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the report says while data scarcity remains a challenge, the available evidence points to the significant vulnerability of African nations to illicit financial flows – IFFs, which pose a substantial barrier to achieving our developmental goals.

Botho Kebabonye Bayendi, Director – of Strategic Planning & Delivery at the African Union Commission said “The African Union (AU) is committed to a decade of accelerated progress, characterized by “moonshots”. Moonshots are ambitious targets set for the year 2033, as part of the second ten-year implementation plan of Agenda 2063,” she said.

On goal 17 (Partnerships for the Goals) and the corresponding goals of Agenda 2063, the report shows that domestic revenue mobilization in Africa for the implementation of the SDGs remains low and there is a need to accelerate the implementation of SDG 17.

The surge in debt across African countries is impeding Africa’s development, as debt servicing costs crowd out resources for social spending.

There has also been limited donor support for capacity building; on average, African countries spend a trivial 0.5% of GDP on science, technology, and innovation.

To bridge the gap and ensure that the continent achieves the SDG goals by 2030, the report recommends investing in data and capacity, integrating different data sources, developing new and alternate indicators, and identifying new partners with tools and solutions such as the private sector, NGOs/CSO and academia.

There was also a call for the ECA to produce an SDG Index to see how countries are progressing compared to others.

About the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa

Established by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations (UN) in 1958 as one of the UN’s five regional commissions, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa’s (ECA’s) mandate is to promote the economic and social development of its Member States, foster intraregional integration and promote international cooperation for Africa’s development. ECA is made up of 54 Member States and plays a dual role as a regional arm of the UN and as a key component of the African institutional landscape.

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Issued by: Communications Section
Economic Commission for Africa
PO Box 3001
Addis Ababa
Tel: +251 11 551 5826

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