from The Internationalist and International Institutions and Global Governance Program

Climate Change Is Putting the SDGs Further Out of Reach

The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly hindered many countries' efforts to advance sustainable development. Unabated climate change, however, poses an even greater threat.
WaterAid and Sand In Your Eye's giant sand drawing, seen on Whitby Beach, Britain, shows a child carrying water on dry, cracked ground next to the rising tide to highlight the effect of climate change on people's access to water on March 15, 2021.
WaterAid and Sand In Your Eye's giant sand drawing, seen on Whitby Beach, Britain, shows a child carrying water on dry, cracked ground next to the rising tide to highlight the effect of climate change on people's access to water on March 15, 2021. REUTERS/Lee Smith

In my weekly column for World Politics Review, I assess how climate change threatens to derail the achievement of all seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)—not just those most obviously associated with environmental protections and concerns.

This month’s harrowing report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has particularly disquieting implications for the world’s poor. Global warming and associated biodiversity loss will hinder progress toward each of the Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, a set of 17 internationally agreed objectives for advancing global prosperity, social welfare and environmental conservation through the end of the decade. COVID-19 has already dealt these aspirations a massive blow. But these pandemic setbacks pale in comparison to the long-term challenges that climate change presents for meeting and exceeding basic human needs, and placing developing countries on the path toward sustained—and sustainable—growth.

More on:

Global Governance

Climate Change

Sustainable Development Goals (UN)

United Nations member states unanimously endorsed the SDGs in 2015. Unlike the Millennium Development Goals that preceded them, they offer a balanced vision of development resting on three interdependent pillars: economic, social and ecological. They are not modest. Among other ambitions, they envision eliminating poverty (SDG 1) and ending hunger (SDG 2) everywhere in the world by 2030—objectives that seem implausible. They are accompanied by a whopping 169 individual targets, to be assessed according to a sprawling list of 247 indicators. Despite these weaknesses, the SDGs have symbolic and substantive value as a banner and organizing framework around which a diverse range of global actors can rally.

Read the full World Politics Review article here.

More on:

Global Governance

Climate Change

Sustainable Development Goals (UN)