Patrick Healy
September 21, 2022

UN Report: Urgent nature action needed to salvage Sustainable Development Goals

The climate crisis, COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine are threatening to stall progress on several key environmental targets under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), humanity’s blueprint for a better future, warns a new report from the United Nations.

The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2022, released last week, details how a series of global crises have hampered the global effort to limit plastic pollution, protect endangered species, and provide clean drinking water to all humanity. It says urgent action is needed to preserve nature and rescue the global goals.

One of the major takeaways of this report is that the ocean, which is the planet’s largest eco system, is being choked by plastic pollution. The report highlights that in 2021, an estimated 17 million metric tonnes of plastic entered the world’s ocean and this is expected to double or triple by 2040. Countries are increasingly recognizing the need to take action and at the fifth UN Environment Assembly earlier this year, agreed to establish an intergovernmental negotiating committee to develop a legally binding instrument on plastic pollution by 2024.

UN Member States adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015 as a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. It was designed to address global challenges, including poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation and conflict. The agenda includes 17 goals and hundreds of indicators to be achieved by 2030. Many goals are linked to the environment and several are unlikely to be met at the current rate of progress, the report warned.

The report highlights that the world is facing a major climate catastrophe due to increased heatwaves, drought and apocalyptic wildfires and floods which are affecting billions of people around the globe and causing potentially irreversible damage to the Earth’s ecosystems. Despite this, national commitments are not encouraging as they point to a nearly 14 per cent increase in greenhouse emissions by 2030, instead of the sharp decline required to limit warming to meet the 1.5 °C target set out in the Paris Agreement.

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