How can a country make progress

Sustainable Development Goals: These 10 countries are making the fastest progress

The United Nations (UN) urges states around the world to implement the Sustainable Development Goals and to improve the quality of life for all people. Join Global Citizen and become active with us so that we can achieve the 17 goals for a sustainable, just world by 2030.

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A new report from the UN shows: Sweden, Finland and Denmark have made particularly great strides towards the Sustainable Development Goals. At the bottom of the list are the Central African Republic, South Sudan and Chad.

Since last year, Sweden has improved in almost all of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - from education to gender equality and nutrition. Only on the environmental goals has there been no progress. However, the country plans to be the first welfare state to do without fossil fuels.

Even at the bottom of the league, the Central African Republic, has made progress, for example on the goals of “life on land”, “decent work” and “economic growth” as well as “climate protection”. The country has severe problems in the areas of water supply and poverty reduction.

Sustainable Development Goals: We are stepping backwards on some goals

The new report reflects the uneven progress that different countries have made since the SDGs were launched in 2015.

The world at large has made advances in areas such as education, communicable diseases, and access to drinking water. But the situation has worsened for other indicators.

For example, hunger in the world and environmental damage have increased in recent years. Inequality within and between different countries has also increased.

According to Oxfam, the world's billionaires have as much money as 4.6 billion other people put together. During the Covid-19 pandemic, this inequality only worsened due to the resulting economic crisis. Basically, the Covid-19 pandemic has ruined or at least interrupted progress on almost all SDGs, according to the latest UN report.

“The new type of coronavirus affects every person and every society - but not to the same extent everywhere,” writes UN Secretary General António Guterres in the foreword of the report. "It has exposed and exacerbated existing inequalities and injustices."

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Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals has become more difficult because of the corona crisis

An estimated 71 million people will slide into poverty by the end of the year - it would be the first time in decades that poverty has risen so sharply around the world. The pandemic has destabilized food systems around the world, putting an additional 270 million people at risk of food insecurity this year. In addition, many health systems threatened to collapse under the pressure of the coronavirus.

School closings have resulted in 90 percent of students worldwide - 1.57 billion young people - being deprived of their daily classes. This is likely to have lasting consequences for their education.

In the health sector, the pandemic has primarily affected people who are already at risk, such as indigenous peoples. Women and girls also suffer from the “shadow pandemic of violence”. Access to medical services in the field of sexual and reproductive health has deteriorated.

But the UN report is not all bad news. As the authors explain, the countries now have an opportunity: They can initiate a sustainable and environmentally friendly economic upswing in the coming months in order to stop climate change.

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"Fighting the pandemic together can be used as a warm-up exercise in order to then tackle an even bigger crisis: global climate change, the consequences of which are well known," writes Liu Zhenmin, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs.

The UN argue that the setbacks caused by the pandemic should be seen as a motivation to achieve the SDGs by 2030.

"The causes and uneven effects of the coronavirus pandemic are far from undermining the arguments for the SDGs - rather, they show us very clearly why we need the 2030 Agenda, the Paris Climate Agreement and the Addis Ababa Agenda for Action so badly," writes Guterres.

The full ranking of the countries and their progress on the SDGs can be found here. It is based on 100 possible total points that a country would receive if it achieved all of the SDGs. 29 countries could not be included due to a lack of data.

In the top 10 places are:

1. Sweden (84.72)
2. Denmark (84.56)
3. Finland (83.77)
4. France (81.13)
5. Germany (80.77)
6. Norway (80.76)
7. Austria (80.70)
8. Czech Republic (80.58)
9. Netherlands (80.37)
10. Estonia (80.06)

In the last 10 places are:

157. Niger (50.15)
158.Democratic Republic of the Congo (49.71)
159.Sudan (49.56)
160. Nigeria (49.28)
161. Madagascar (49,14)
162. Liberia (47.12)
163. Somalia (46.21)
164. Chad (43.75)
165. South Sudan (43.66)
166 Central African Republic (38.54)