Tuesday, June 15, 2021
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HomeWorldSDGs: Greater Urgency Needed To Meet Environmental Goals, Improved Data Likely Key

SDGs: Greater Urgency Needed To Meet Environmental Goals, Improved Data Likely Key


Countries are on track to miss the Sustainable
Development Goals (SDGs) relating to environmental
protection, two UN entities warn in new report issued on
Saturday to coincide with
the
International Day for Biological
Diversity
.

Despite
making progress in areas such as clean water, sanitation,
clean energy and forest management, the world is still
living unsustainably and biodiversity loss and climate
change have continued to deteriorate.

“We have still
not embraced the rate of change necessary to come in line
with the 2030
Agenda
”, said Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Executive
Secretary of the Convention on Biological
Diversity,
which produced the study together with the UN
Environment Programme (UNEP).

Going
backwards

“The report makes it clear that we are
falling short, and, in some cases, actually receding. The
world cannot sustain our rate of use and abuse forever, and
it is imperative that we accept the changes in lifestyles
and livelihoods necessary to achieve the 2030
goals.”

The SDGS are at the heart of the 2030
Agenda for Sustainable Development
, which outlines
internationally agreed targets in areas such as poverty,
hunger, health, climate action, clean energy and responsible
consumption.

The Measuring Progress report reviews
data and information about the environmental aspects of each
of the 17 goals, and how countries are making headway based
on assessment through respective SDG indicators.

The
authors found there has been an increase in downward trends
among more indicators when compared with the previous
progress report published in 2019.

As the SDGs are
interlinked, achieving one goal or target could contribute
to realizing other goals or targets, while the pursuit of
one objective may conflict with the achievement of
another.

Researchers tested the relationship between
the SDG indicators, using an analytical approach driven by
data. Among the links they found was that Domestic Material
Consumption (DMC) related to biomass extraction is
“negatively correlated” with species at risk of
extinction.

On the other hand, increasing protected
areas and other measures to safeguard biodiversity have not
led to reductions in the number of species at risk of
disappearing, meaning a decade-long global strategy to
conserve biodiversity by 2020 has been missed.

Better
data for a greener planet

The report calls for
improved data, and indicators, to understand how to ensure
development progresses in a practical way.

Gaps were
identified in the diversity and use of environmental data
and statistics to inform government policies, particularly
“big environmental data” produced through technologies
such as remote sensing and artificial
intelligence.

Furthermore, many existing data
products, statistics and indicators appear to be
under-utilized, while governments also have failed to put
emphasis on that data in policy formation or
decision-making.

“Our comprehension of the
environmental dimension of the SDGs is lagging”, said Jian
Liu, Director of the Science Division at UNEP.

“Our
limited capacities to collect, disseminate and effectively
use environmental data have hindered our holistic
understanding of the environment and the effect of
socio-economic factors – we hope this report will support
countries as they strengthen action on the environmental
dimensions with a view to meeting the 2030
Agenda.”

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