Anti-poverty goal progress is 100 years behind schedule

Crop poor sanitation

The 17 SDGs aim to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all - but are a century behind schedule

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12th July 2019 by Graham Martin 0 Comments

The world’s ambition of reducing inequality through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is at risk of being over 100 years behind schedule, says a charity.

Governments met at the United Nations in New York this week to reaffirm their support for the eradication poverty and inequality by 2030.

The 17 SDGs aim to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda.

But sanitation charity WaterAid has said that SDG progress is a century behind target.

And under the impact of the on-going climate crisis, that is 100 years we may not have.

Representatives from WaterAid across four continents were in New York, calling on leaders to prioritise the poorest and most marginalised people in order to close the vast gaps in access to water and sanitation around the world.

People living in poverty are both more likely not to have taps and toilets but also are kept in poverty by not having access to these basic-essentials.

It is still possible to meet the ambitions of the SDGs, but only with an immediate step change in global priorities.

Access to clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene underpins nearly all of the 17 SDGs. Without access to these basic human rights, the entire development agenda, stretching across health, nutrition, education and equality, suffers.

However, the world is currently off track to meet most of the goals and it is vulnerable people who will suffer the most.

At current rates of progress, everyone in the least developed countries will not have access to a safely managed water supply until 2131 – over 100 years behind schedule.

This average masks the fact that in some countries little or no progress is being made. The situation for sanitation in sub-Saharan Africa is even worse - it will take until 2403 for everyone in these countries to have access to a safely managed toilet, nearly 400 years behind schedule.

In some countries, the gap between the poorest and the richest peoples’ access to water and sanitation is growing. It is the poorest and most marginalised people who have the most to gain from accessing good water, sanitation and hygiene services and breaking free of poverty.   

Tim Wainwright, WaterAid’s chief executive, said: “The SDGs are ambitious but achievable goals that will fail if we don’t urgently increase the rate of progress. Time is not on our side.”

Scotland is making mixed progress towards achieving the United Nation’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, according to a recent report by civil society organisations.

On Target for 2030? assesses Scotland’s progress providing reviews on each goal, authored by expert organisations operating within each field in Scotland.

It found that the negative effects of slow progress on the goals are felt disproportionately by low income households.