The State of the Art (SOA) Review by Key Research and Innovation Geographies
What is the most important SDG in each geography?
The RRING team conducted desktop research, using UN reports as well as voluntary national reviews (as submitted to the UN High-Level Political Forum (HLPF)) to identify the most important goals of sustainable development in each region (called ‘geography’ in this task)). As geographical regions, they use 5 regions defined by the UN for its regional commissions, and its monitoring of sustainable development goals, noting that each country is different and that regional averages can be misleading because 5 global regions show internal diversity.
Parts I and II record what UN sources indicate the current status of progress in implementing the SDGs; III. part relies on structured interviews with UNESCO experts on gender equality, scientific education, public engagement, open access and ethics to report on what they consider to be the most likely positive effects, which would indicate the achievement of a fully defined aspect of RDI could have on achieving a specific SDG / goal.
Finally, in Part IV, this report focuses on the reasons why respondents in Part III explained how RDI can address the objectives identified in the interviews.
The RRING project will go into further detail on what possible strategies exist to promote RRI while achieving the 2030 Agenda.
What is the most important SDG in each geography?
No state has been found to explicitly prioritize among the sustainable development goals or objectives. No regional group has explicitly adopted the hierarchy.
In the political agenda theory of which the SDGs are a part (Agenda 2030), all 17 SDGs are equally important from each country and region. This also applies to all their goals. All of them should be achieved by all countries by 2030.
From this perspective, the issue of this research is controversial even before we started researching it, because they are all important, no more than any other. This report is not on track to be achieved by 2030, and when there is sufficient information to set priorities, the most important are those that are least likely to be achieved.
The bulk of this report summarizes the findings of the joint work of several UN agencies to assess which SDGs are “on track” and “not on track” for achievements by geographic region. Those who are not on the road can be considered the most important.
If every country were to truly meet all the sustainable development goals and all the goals by the completion date, it currently seems that the most effort will be needed in what is not on the way. They may vary by region. For example, this report will conclude that SDG 1 on poverty is “most important” in Africa, not most important in Europe.
The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2019
In July 2019, the High-Level Policy Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) reviewed global progress in the last remaining set of sustainable development goals. 142 countries have now presented their voluntary national reviews. All SDGs are now featured on the HLPF. As mentioned above, this year actually closes the first cycle of implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
The Sustainable Development Report 2019, prepared by the UN DESA Statistics Division, was also launched in July with contributions from more than 50 international and regional organizations. It provides charts, infographics and SDG progress maps and presents a detailed analysis of selected indicators. In addition, the report highlights regional progress and analysis.
The report is accompanied by a comprehensive statistical annex and a Global Database of SDG Indicators with data on countries and regions that can also be accessed interactively on the Sustainable Development Goals Indicators website.
These data provide a clear overview of the progress made so far in the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as the challenges that still exist, in each country and region. This lets us select the data we need from countries and regions to determine if there are trends. However, since these are UN documents, they can only aggregate the information provided by the Member States to identify gaps (and call those gaps priorities). They do not reflect how each country or region implements SDGs, except in this broad sense of progress made on the basis of already known measurements (eg the quality of integrating SDGs into national legislation would not be visible in aggregate records, except through illustrations). Nevertheless, there are broad conclusions about the gaps that need to be addressed, which can be called priorities, because all countries have committed themselves to meet all the goals of sustainable development. These conclusions are supported by the most comprehensive policy process and available documentation and are considered a reliable source for setting priorities.
According to the report, the two main challenges facing the world are:
- Climate change
- Inequalities among and within countries
These two challenges are both corresponding to respectively SDG 13 ‘Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts ‘and SDG 10 ‘Reduce inequality within and among countries’. Though progress has been made, poverty remains an issue in many parts of the world, and hunger has actually been increasing in recent years. This issue has been posing a threat and it should be battled over the decades that are coming in front of us and we all need to put in a joint effort for these issues to be addressed properly in order to eradicate them from our societies.