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Sustainable Development Goals 2030: India’s Performance

What are Sustainable Development Goals?

The United Nations laid down Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also called Global Goals, in 2015. SDGs are a worldwide effort to take care of the people and planet to ensure health, prosperity and peace. 

Each goal has different objectives, but aims to improve human quality of life without compromising natural wealth. The sustainable development goals and targets are to be achieved by 2030. 

Given their global outlook, countries from across the world have committed to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to build a brighter future for all. These goals act as a blueprint for ending poverty, world hunger, preserving gender equality, addressing climate change, and more.

In essence, the SDG 2030 agenda was built on the principle of ‘leave no one behind’. 

Overview of 17 Sustainable Development Goals 2030

In all, there are 17 Sustainable Development Goals with 169 targets. 

The SDG 2030 Agenda balances economic, social and environmental dimensions in the fight for better lives. World leaders have participated in finding solutions for these urgent challenges. 

Here’s the full list of the 17 SDG goals:

Goal 1 – No Poverty
End poverty everywhere

Goal 2 – Zero Hunger
Achieve better food security and adopt sustainable agriculture to end hunger while enhancing nutrition

Goal 3 – Good Health & Well-Being
Guarantee health well-being for people of all ages

Goal 4 – Quality Education
Secure inclusive, quality, and equal learning opportunities for everyone

Goal 5 – Gender Equality
Accomplish gender equality to empower women and girls

Goal 6 – Clean Water & Sanitation
Warrant sustainable water management and sanitation for everyone 

Goal 7 – Affordable & Clean Energy
Provide access to reliable and affordable energy

Goal 8 – Decent Work & Economic Growth
Ensure inclusive, sustained and productive employment 

Goal 9 – Industry, Innovation & Infrastructure
Build long-standing infrastructure for sustainable industrialisation, and promote innovation

Goal 10 – Reduce Inequalities
Lower inequalities in society and among countries

Goal 11 – Sustainable Cities & Commitment
Establish safe, sustainable, resilient and inclusive cities

Goal 12 – Responsible Consumption & Production
Consider sustainable consumption and production

Goal 13 – Climate Change
Take action against climate change

Goal 14 – Life Below Water
Use marine resources responsibly and sustainably 

Goal 15 – Life on Land
Protect and restore land ecosystems; reverse land degradation and biodiversity loss

Goal 16 – Peace and Justice
Promote peace, equal right to justice and inclusive institutions

Goal 17 – Partnerships for the Goals
Strengthen global partnership for sustainable development

How has India adopted the Sustainable Development Goals?

India, a nation home to nearly 1.4 billion people, plays an important role in the success of sustainable development goals. 

The Government has shown strong commitment to sustainable development goals through its ‘sab ka saath, sab ka vikas’ (collective effort for inclusive growth) policies, with special focus on ending poverty. 

It recognises that SDG goals are interconnected across economic, social and environmental pillars. And that ending poverty will improve economic growth, address education needs, provide social protection, build health infrastructure and add to job opportunities while tackling climate change.  

India’s SDG 2030 Agenda also ensures that our policies don’t have negative impacts globally. 

To that end, the Government has adopted a SDG framework and tasked NITI Aayog, the country’s foremost think tank, with coordinating its progress. The set-up is as follows: 

  1. Partners

NITI Aayog is joined by the Government, civil society, private organisations, academic institutions, think tanks, and research organisations for successful implementation of the SDGs. 

  1. Ministries

NITI Aayog has also mapped the SDGs to schemes, identifying lead and supporting ministries for their execution. These include the ministries of Finance, Education, Health & Family Welfare, Women & Child Development among others. 

  1. Functions

NITI Aayog’s core functions are – 

  • Overlooking progress of the SDG framework at global and national levels
  • Localising SDGs among states and union territories
  • Engaging the private sector to help the Government through collaborative action
  • Cost estimation of SDGs efforts, development and implementation of finance tools and promotion of investments
  • Targeting poverty in all its forms, and ending it through accelerated multidimensional poverty reduction. 

What is India’s SDG 2030 progress? 

With concerted efforts in the last few years, India has achieved significant progress by 2021. 

According to the UN’s SDG Knowledge Platform, below is India’s success story so far in the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development:

  1. Sasakht Bharat, Sabal Bharat (Empowered & Resilient India)
    Uplifted over 271 million people out of poverty
  2. Swachh Bharat, Swasth Bharat (Clean & Healthy India)
    Achieved 100% rural sanitation with noted decrease in maternal and child mortality rates, universal health coverage, and medical assistance for Covid-19
  3. Samagra Bharat, Saksham Bharat (Inclusive & Entrepreneurial India)
    Financial, social and technological inclusion empowered people economically
  4. Satat Bharat, Sanatan Bharat (Sustainable India)
    Clean energy systems, disaster-ready infrastructure, climate action strategies, 100% electrification of villages, and reducing 38 million tonnes of CO2 emissions every year
  5. Sampanna Bharat, Samriddh Bharat (Prosperous & Vibrant India)
    India is quickly becoming one of the fastest growing economies in emerging markets. It’s on a trajectory of enhancing infrastructure, improving investments, encouraging technological innovation, and promoting entrepreneurship. 

India’s shortcomings in Sustainable Development Goals 

Covid-19 has pushed back global progress in sustainable development goals. And India is affected, too. Significant headway in some areas has taken a backseat. 

According to the SDG India Index 2020, India progressed in 9 out of 16 goals, dropped in 5 and observed no change in 1 – as compared to 2019. However, goals 2 (Zero Hunger) and 5 (Gender Equality) still remain in the aspirant category. 

Kerala, Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu were the top 3 states in SDG 2030 progress. Whereas Bihar, Jharkhand and Assam were at the bottom, moving backwards from 2019. Bihar and Jharkhand are lagging behind the most – Bihar in seven goals and Jharkhand in five. 

While India’s advancement in the sustainable development goals agenda seems notable, the country has dropped 2 points on the global ranking system, from 115 to 117. And the overall score barely touched 62 points out of 100. 

On the Environmental Performance Index (EPI), India ranked 168 out of 180 countries. Whereas for environmental health, it ranked 172. 

There are still significant challenges that India needs to overcome for better quality of life. Firstly, it needs to improve on SDGs 2 and 5 through robust implementation of policies, schemes and education. Secondly, it needs to reassess actions for climate change, improve natural ecosystems, and protect biodiversity. 

The Way Forward

India’s commitment to gaining ground in Sustainable Development Goals is commendable. However, the nation has still much left to do before the 2030 deadline. 

We’re now entering the ‘Decade of Action’, where continuous monitoring of progress, assessment of strategies and implementation interventions will help accelerate progress towards sustainable development goals, while overcoming challenges. 

Moving forward, our actions will be closely evaluated. This is our time to gain momentum and make notable developments.