in: Development Policy Review (virtual issue), first published 24.08.2023
The overall landscape looks bleak when surveying the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) from the midway point. Although even before the COVID-19 pandemic there was progress, this was not at sufficient pace for truly transformative change (United Nations, 2019). The secretary-general of the United Nations (UN) is convening a summit for 18–19 September 2023, with the aim of increasing the momentum of and “accelerating” progress on the 2030 Agenda. In 2015, a year of great optimism and multilateral resolve, the 2030 Agenda was adopted, alongside the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. With preparations starting after the 2012 Rio+20 conference, novel and participatory approaches led by a 30-member Open Working Group guided the formulation of the SDGs. It is doubtful that such levels of political commitment and consensus would be attained today, in a world where lack of trust and co-operation between states both reflect and are caused by the considerable stress on all three dimensions of sustainable development: economic, environmental, and social.