200th Edition Overview

Dear Mankind – My most favoured Children 

You will recall from my earlier blogs (Mother Earth Opinion Blogs) the recent updates on the global initiatives to develop the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) thereby helping create a safer and fairer world.  I am pleased to have an opportunity to say a few words in this, the 200th edition of our WhatCanYouDo Newsletter which has been keeping you updated and informed about important SDG developments. 

The SDGs were agreed in 2015 by the 193 member countries of the United Nations and we are now at the mid-point on our journey to the 2030 targets.  Good progress was starting to be being made in some areas but sadly most of this encouraging activity was brought to an abrupt halt, or in some cases even reversed, by the COVID 19 Pandemic.  It is with profound sadness I must report that multiple health, war and security crises aggravated by climate and biodiversity crises are now putting the Sustainable Development Agenda at risk.  The most recent SDG Index Report highlights that since 2019, these crises have halted sustainable development progress worldwide.

These Global crises and immediate needs also divert resources away from longer term targets.  Success in developing countries is therefor being held back by severe funding constraints as well as by the global health and security crises.  It is important to understand the critical importance of international financing mechanisms when addressing the problems in poorer countries and promoting sustainable investments in physical and human infrastructure.  People need to campaign and make their Governments address these problems!

Low Income Countries (LICs) and Lower Middle-Income Countries (LMICs) make up about 51% of the world population but account for only 15% of the world’s investments.  Sizable SDG financing is needed for SDG activity in these countries amounting to around US $500 billion per year.  If we then add in the needs of Upper Medium Income Countries (UMICs) the amount needed in the developing world grows to around US$1 Trillion / year. 

200th Edition Overview

While these financing needs may appear be very large compared to the economies of those poorer countries, the amounts are quite modest relative to the size of the world economy.  Gross world product (GWP) is now around US $100 Trillion so the amount needed to fill the financing gap is only 1-2% of the GWP.  In addition, global savings are currently around 27% of GWP (i.e. US $27 Trillion per year).  Hence financing between 4 – 8% of global savings would be enough to cover the incremental financing needed to make life better for approximately 80% of the world’s population.

There are several other potential sources of funding.  Donor countries in the OECD Development Assistance Committee are supposed to give 0.7% of Gross National Income as Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) but very few countries meet this target.  In 2021 the total amount given was equivalent to 0.33% (US $179 Billion).  If all countries paid in the 0.7% target, the ODA would rise to US $200 Billion per year!

There are 1000 or so Billionaires in the World with a combined net worth of around US $15 Trillion.  Hence with just a 2% tax (assuming no leakage), this alone could generate around US $300 Billion per year.  If suitable campaigns could be organised, this has the potential for massive increases in Philanthropic Aid-giving to the developing world to help address this financing problem.

So, what is the lesson in all this?

Eighty percent (80%) of the world’s population who live in poorer countries are not going to benefits if additional finance is not found to invest in the SDG initiatives.  As always, the issue is not shortage of money but where and how it is spent.  People need to campaign and demand that more funding is made available.  This includes writing to and putting pressure on Political Leaders to hold them to account on the promises made when the SDGs were agreed at the United Nations.  

The finance is there but is not being used for this purpose!

What can YOU do about it?  

Get Involved; Make a Difference; Make some NOISE!

Mother Earth 

Sources: extracted from Sustainable Development Goals 2022 Jeoffrey Sachs et al, Cambridge DOI (10.1017/9781009210058)

SDG 17 partnerships for the Goals – an Update

Dear  Mankind and most favoured of my children 

You will recall my earliest blogs ( Mother Earth blogs ) welcomed the Global initiative to develop the Sustainable Development Goals ( SDGs)  to help create a safer and fairer world and I was happy that Mankind had at last understood the need to live more sustainably and harmoniously with other living things on this, our only, home. Some good progress was starting to be being made in some areas but sadly most of this encouraging activity was brought to an abrupt halt  or in some cases, even reversed by the COVID 19 Pandemic. 

This blog on SDG 17 Partnerships for the Goals is the next in  a series of updates to review the effects of the COVID 19 Pandemic  on the aspirations and targets of each of the  original 17 SDGS and to look ahead to the prospects in each sector. 

The Covid pandemic has severely tested multilateral and global partnerships that were already shaky. Although Global Official Development Assistance  ( ODA) and Remittance Flows declined less than expected in 2020, Foreign Direct Investment ( FDI) to low-income countries dropped by 40%. This has caused severe economic  distress in many countries and limited their ability to make investments in recovery,  vaccines,  climate action and sustainability. Apart from renewable energy investment , investment activity fell sharply across all SDG sectors with the fall most pronounced in poorer countries. 

Exports from developing countries and least developed countries were supposed to be given preferential treatment and low tariffs so that their exports could be doubled  by 2020  from the 2011 levels but this was not achieved.  Agriculture(a particularly important sector  for developing countries ), continued to face the highest  ( protectionist ) tariffs imposed by the developed countries in 2019 despite their earlier promises on preferential treatment. 

In 2019, 86% of the population in Europe and North America were using the Internet so most people were able to work, shop and even learn remotely during the Covid lockdowns but nearly half of the Global population (3.7 billion people) are still not online. Significant efforts should be made to increase access to Internet in the developing world. 

The Pandemic has amplified health and income inequalities.  For example, persons over 65 were only 14% of confirmed cases but 80% of deaths , vaccine distribution in Europe and North America was  68 per hundred people but in  sub-Saharan Africa, fewer than 2 people per hundred got vaccines. For those with disabilities 1 in 3 personally experienced discrimination with higher levels of discrimination occurring to women. There was also  a drastic drop in international tourism and this disproportionately affected small island developing States whose economies were totally dependent on tourism. 

Mother Earth  

Sources : extracted from The Sustainable Development Goals Reports 2019 -2021 , United Nations, New York