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UN Sustainable Development Report 2024

UN Sustainable Development Report 2024
UN Sustainable Development Report 2024

The guiding principle for sustainable development is encapsulated by the five P’s: People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace, and Partnerships. Each of these elements represents a critical aspect of human and planetary well-being:

  • People: Ensuring no individual, group, nation, or region is left behind.

  • Planet: Living within Earth's environmental boundaries.

  • Prosperity: Extending the benefits of modern education and technology globally.

  • Peace: Coexisting under the principles of the UN Charter and international law, advocating for non-intervention and peaceful conflict resolution.

  • Partnerships: Collaboration among governments, civil society, and businesses to achieve shared global goals.

These principles reflect the core aspirations of the UN member states, including the upholding of human rights, gender equality (SDG 5), the eradication of extreme poverty (SDG 1), and ending hunger through advancements in sustainable agriculture (SDG 2).

Priority of peace

Peace is emphasized as a fundamental prerequisite for achieving all other goals. The UN's ability to prevent conflict through diplomacy and adherence to the UN Charter is highlighted. Nations are urged to use diplomacy, negotiation, and international law to resolve conflicts. The Security Council is called upon to address the underlying political causes of wars and to adopt measures that meet the legitimate interests of all parties involved.

The summit of the future

The Summit of the Future is seen as a critical opportunity to modernize the United Nations to meet the challenges of the 21st century. The UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) presents recommendations for "United Nations 2.0," aimed at enhancing the institution’s effectiveness for the remainder of the century. This initiative is viewed as a midpoint assessment between the founding of the UN in 1945 and the year 2100.

Historical context and current dynamics

The year 1945, marking the end of World War II, initiated the era of decolonization, a process in which the UN was significantly involved. It also marked the beginning of the Cold War. In contrast, the 2020s are identified as the start of a new multi-polar era characterized by significant advancements in education, science, and technology across all regions. The current global landscape seeks prosperity, security, peace, and cooperation without dominance by any single power.

The role of multilateral institutions

The text underscores the importance of effective multilateral institutions in achieving shared prosperity. Despite existing disparities in material conditions, there are opportunities for emerging economies to bridge educational and technological gaps with wealthier nations. The convergence toward shared prosperity is contingent upon maintaining peace, fostering cooperation, and strengthening multilateral institutions.

The principles of sustainable development, guided by the five P’s, provide a comprehensive framework for global progress. The Summit of the Future represents a pivotal moment for the international community to reassess and enhance the United Nations' role in addressing contemporary challenges, ensuring that all nations can participate in and benefit from global advancements.

The crossroads of 2024

The year 2024 represents a pivotal moment for global progress. The world faces two divergent paths: one leading to deepening ecological crises, increasing climate-driven disasters, widening inequalities, conflicts, and the misuse of advanced technologies; the other leading to sustainability, the eradication of poverty, global peace, and the beneficial use of digital technologies. The Summit of the Future offers a crucial opportunity to choose the path of peace and sustainable development.

The need for multilateralism

In an interconnected world, no nation can tackle global challenges such as the climate crisis, energy transition, peace, and security independently. Effective multilateralism is essential for providing global public goods, protecting vital ecosystems, and mitigating the risks of advanced technologies. Regional groupings like the EU, African Union, and ASEAN, along with the UN, play key roles in addressing these issues collectively.

Global public goods and the UN's role

The UN and its specialized agencies are crucial in providing and protecting global public goods. These include legal frameworks for climate action, biodiversity protection, maritime laws, financial stability, human rights, and peaceful conflict resolution. The UN must also safeguard the biosphere and critical ecosystems, achieving sustainable land and food systems as outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Investment for sustainable development

Sustainable development requires long-term investments in quality education, universal health coverage, zero-carbon energy, sustainable agriculture, urban infrastructure, and digital connectivity. Effective national and regional plans, supported by a reformed Global Financial Architecture (GFA), are vital. Currently, low-income and lower-middle-income countries face high capital costs, hindering their sustainable development efforts. Access to affordable long-term capital is essential for these countries to invest at scale and achieve their objectives.

Responsibilities of the G21

The G21, comprising the former G20 and the African Union, bears significant responsibility for achieving the SDGs and protecting planetary boundaries. The G21's collective GDP, population, and natural resources position it as a key actor in global sustainability. The UN system needs to strengthen mechanisms to ensure SDG implementation within and by the G21 members.

Private sector's role

The private sector is a crucial driver of sustainable development, leading technological transformations in energy, agriculture, climate resilience, the digital economy, and urban infrastructure. Profits should align with contributions to the common good, and ethical businesses must hold themselves accountable to the SDGs.

Strengths and weaknesses of the UN system

The adoption of the SDG framework by 193 UN member states is a significant milestone. However, achieving the SDGs by 2030 is hindered by shortcomings in the Global Financial Architecture and geopolitical tensions. The COVID-19 pandemic has also disrupted progress. A revitalized UN system, termed UN 2.0, is necessary to address these challenges and support a multi-polar world.

Recommendations for UN reform

A new multilateralism based on five core pillars of UN reform is proposed:

  1. Empowering Sustainable Development: The UN should support nations and regions in adopting comprehensive sustainable development pathways by 2050.

  2. Implementing SDG Pathways: Stronger global agreements and empowered UN institutions are needed to promote SDG implementation.

  3. Financing the SDGs: New global taxes and a reformed GFA are required to finance the SDGs.

  4. Representation of Peoples: The UN should create new forums of representation, including a UN Parliament of the Peoples.

  5. Harnessing Science and Technology: Advances in science and technology should be directed towards human good, with vigilance against their potential misuse.

Specific reform areas

The report highlights five major areas for reform in the Summit of the Future agenda:

1. Sustainable development and financing for development.

2. International peace and security.

3. Science, technology, and innovation.

4. Youth and future generations.

5. Global governance.

These reforms aim to enhance the UN's capacity to address contemporary challenges and support sustainable development worldwide.

Sustainable development and financing for development

Challenges and opportunities

Sustainable development faces profound challenges, including deep poverty, material deprivations, worsening environmental crises, and global cooperation hindered by divisions among major powers. However, technological advances and low-cost digital platforms offer hope, empowering even the poorest populations in Asia and Africa. The SDGs provide a valuable framework for progress, with governments crafting integrated strategies and institutional structures to achieve them.

Recommendations by SDSN

1. Extending the SDG agenda to 2050:

- The SDGs should remain the core of global cooperation beyond 2030, with a new horizon set to 2050. This extension acknowledges the time required to transition to zero-carbon energy systems and address financing shortfalls.

- Despite commitments like the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (2015), global crises and governance issues have impeded SDG progress.

- A commitment to the SDG framework until 2050 is crucial, emphasizing long-term planning and coherence in international policy, particularly in trade and investment.

2. Proper financing for sustainable development:

- Investment in human capital, infrastructure, enterprise capital, intellectual capital, and natural capital is essential.

- Significant shortfalls in financing, especially for education and infrastructure, need addressing.

- The Global Financial Architecture (GFA) requires reform to ensure adequate financing for poorer countries.

- Five strategies are proposed:

- Increase financing from official sources and empower the IMF.

- Enhance national development banks.

- Implement global taxation on CO2 emissions, travel, and financial transactions.

- Reform private capital markets and credit ratings.

- Restructure existing debts, including debt-for-SDG and debt-for-Nature swaps.

3. Medium-term sustainable development strategies:

- Nations and regions should create medium-term strategies with a horizon to 2050, focusing on public investment plans and transformation pathways.

- These strategies should be reviewed annually at the High-Level Political Forum.

International peace and security

Reinforcing non-intervention principles

- The UN Charter's principles of non-intervention should be reinforced, prohibiting interference in other nations' internal affairs through political manipulation, military coercion, or economic measures.

- The UN should ensure collective enforcement of international law without unilateral actions by individual nations.

Strengthening UN peacekeeping agencies

- The UN Security Council should be reformed and empowered, including super-majority voting, banning international weapons flow to conflict zones, and enhancing mediation and peace-building operations.

- The Security Council should discourage proxy wars and respect national borders.

- Other UN agencies, like the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court, should be strengthened.

Nuclear disarmament

- Nuclear powers should adhere to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and pursue nuclear disarmament.

- The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons should be ratified and complied with by all nations.

Monitoring and reducing military spending

- A global registry of military expenditure should be established to monitor and reduce military spending, redirecting resources towards peaceful and sustainable development.

Science, technology, and innovation

Technological advancements and governance

- Technological advancements offer transformative benefits but also pose risks if misused.

- The UN should establish frameworks to ensure technology serves humanity's common good and mitigates potential threats.

Recommendations for governance

- Strengthen international cooperation in science and technology.

- Promote ethical standards and regulations for emerging technologies.

- Foster innovation that aligns with the SDGs.

Youth and future generations

- Engage and empower youth in global decision-making processes.

- Invest in education and opportunities for young people to drive sustainable development.

Recent related articles about youth and future generations:

Global governance

Enhancing UN effectiveness

- Reform UN structures to improve representation, transparency, and accountability.

- Strengthen mechanisms for global cooperation and collective action.

The Sustainable Development Report 2024 calls for bold reforms and renewed commitment to multilateralism to address the urgent challenges facing humanity. By extending the SDG agenda, ensuring proper financing, reinforcing international peace and security, harnessing science and technology, empowering youth, and enhancing global governance, the international community can pave the way for a sustainable and prosperous future for all.

Download full report:

Credits and references

The SDGs and the UN Summit of the Future. Sustainable Development Report 2024

Authors © Jeffrey D. Sachs, Guillaume Lafortune and Grayson Fuller

Published by Dublin University Press Dublin, Ireland, 2024

Design: Pica Publishing, New York, London, Paris

Printed by Ingenidoc in Rouen, France.

DOI 10.25546/108572

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT REPORT 2024: The SDGs and the UN Summit of the Future

This article has been crafted to provide a concise yet comprehensive overview of the key insights from the "Sustainable Development Report 2024: The SDGs and the UN Summit of the Future," part 1, authored by Jeffrey Sachs, Guillaume Lafortune, and Grayson Fuller. Our aim is to deliver an accurate summary that encapsulates the essence of the original report. For those interested in delving into the complete report, a link to the original document is provided at the bottom of this article.


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