Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.
World leaders have committed to achieving the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals, but they won’t succeed alone. That’s why Goal 17 is to “revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development” – a partnership that must embrace and be embraced by the private sector and its financial systems and technological innovation. While it’s the last Global Goal, it is absolutely essential to establishing the foundational infrastructure necessary to achieve the other 16 SDGs.
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are an ambitious effort to end poverty and hunger, to establish equality for all, to protect our planet, and to ensure a healthy, sustainable future for humankind. The UN wants to achieve these goals by 2030. It’s a 15-year sprint, and the pistol fired on January 1, 2016.
Governments around the world pledged their commitment to achieving the 17 global goals, but they won’t succeed alone. That’s why the 17th goal is to, “revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.” This partnership must embrace – and be embraced by – private sector companies and their financial systems, technological innovation, and the capacity-building necessary for success.
Financing the SDGs is not for the faint of heart. Early estimates show that it will take between US$5 trillion and $7 trillion of annual global public and private investment in sectors as wide ranging as education, clean energy, agriculture, and health to deliver on the SDGs. The scale of investment needed to create these opportunities is immense.
Financial backing for programs alone won’t get us to the finish line by 2030. Most of the SDGs need more than funding. Consider Goal 2 – ending hunger and achieving food security. Not an easy task when you consider demand for food is quickly outstripping the growth in supply. Researchers estimate that by 2050, we will have global shortages in food supply if major systemic changes are not made soon. This requires a technological leap. In some cases, the technology exists, but farmers in underdeveloped countries lack access to it and to the knowledge required to improve crop yields. In some cases, new technology must be innovated and then widely adopted in few years.
Success is very dependent on the private sector to develop and distribute new innovations that align with the goals. It also depends on consensus-building at global, regional, national, and local levels to vet and adopt the best technologies, and it depends on countries having the capacity to absorb them.
Desire alone is not enough to achieve results; it also requires capacity. Consider Goal 2 once again. It is insufficient to simply desire food security. Countries must also have the capacity to cultivate or import food. Similarly, achieving universal education requires the capacity to teach everyone; achieving carbon emission reductions requires the capacity to monitor and eliminate pollution. This is a tall order for many countries with poor infrastructure, a weak economic base, and an unstable political state. Huge investments must be made to help stand the poorest countries on their feet and to track progress.
Tracking progress itself requires massive capacity-building in many countries. As pointed out in the SDG Report 2019, the demand for high-quality, timely and accessible data for development planning is increasing. To meet that demand, countries need to establish a strong national statistical plan that has sufficient funding and political backing to improve statistical capacity across the national statistical system. In 2018, 129 countries worldwide had implemented a national statistical plan, up from 102 in 2017. However, many countries lacked the necessary funding to do so. In sub-Saharan Africa, only 23 per cent of plans were fully funded, compared to 94 per cent in Europe and Northern America.
Former UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, believes the data revolution should be harnessed to help monitor and achieve the SDGs. This is a very sensible idea, given the exabytes of data embedded in data centers, websites, smartphones, and, increasingly, things. In essence, there is capacity in private-sector databases to monitor the Global Goals if multistakeholder partnerships, such as the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data, can form to mine this digital gold. Many countries have yet to experience the data revolution, due to a lack of Internet access.
Though last in the SDGs, Goal 17 is not least. Rather, it is absolutely essential to establishing the foundational infrastructure necessary to achieve the other 16 SDGs. Without growth in technical prowess, financial and economic strength, and core capacity within developing countries to tackle the SDGs, it’s unlikely progress will be made at all.
Nobody ever said achieving the UN Global Goals would be easy. But that’s not a reason to lose faith. Many thought sending mankind to the moon was, well, quite literally a “moon shot,” but we eventually accomplished the impossible by taking, “One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” The Sustainable Development Goals represent 17 urgent leaps for mankind, for without them humanity may run out of steps to take.
SAP is working hard to revitalize the partnerships needed to achieve the UN Global Goals.