In September 2015, the General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Building on the principle of “leaving no one behind”, the new Agenda emphasizes a holistic approach to achieving sustainable development for all. The year 2016 marks the first year of the implementation of the SDGs.
The 17 SDGs adopted by UN member states are SDG 1- no poverty, SDG 2 – zero hunger, SDG 3 – good health and well-being, SDG 4 – quality education, SDG 5 – gender equality, SDG 6 – clean water and sanitation, SDG 7 – affordable and clean energy, SDG 8 – decent work and economic growth, SDG 9 – industry, innovation and infrastructure, SDG 10 – reduced inequalities, SDG 11 – sustainable cities and communities, SDG 12 – responsible consumption and production, SDG 13 – climate action, SDG 14 – life below water, SDG 15 – life on land, SDG 16 – peace, justice and strong institutions and lastly SDG 17 – strengthening global partnerships for the goals.
Sections of SDGs:
- Section I: Social and economic dimension is directed toward combating poverty, especially in developing countries, changing consumption patterns, promoting health, achieving a more sustainable population, and sustainable settlement in decision making.
- Section II: Conservation and management of resources for development includes atmospheric protection, combating deforestation, protecting fragile environments, conservation of biological diversity (biodiversity), control of pollution and the management of biotechnology, and radioactive wastes.
- Section III: Strengthening the role of major groups includes the roles of children and youth, women, NGOs, local authorities, business and industry, and workers; and strengthening the role of indigenous peoples, their communities, and farmers.
- Section IV: Means of implementation includes science, technology transfer, education international institutions, and financial mechanisms.
SDGs in Indian scenario
With regard to the 17 SDGs, India’s rank slipped to 117 in 2021 from its previous rank of 115 in 2020 primarily because major challenges like ending hunger and achieving food security, achieving gender equality and building resilient infrastructure, promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and fostering innovation remain in the country. India ranks below four South Asian countries — Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, according to the State of India’s Environment Report 2021. The overall SDG score of India is 61.9 out of 100.
Elaborating state-wise preparedness, the report said Jharkhand and Bihar are the least prepared to meet the SDGs by 2030, which is the target year. While Jharkhand lags in five of the SDGs and Bihar lags in seven out of 17 SDGs.
It said the states/UTs with the best overall score which are on the path to achieving the SDGs are Kerala, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh.
It is also important to say that India has made steady progress towards achieving the SDGs in areas of health, energy, and infrastructure, as per NITI Aayog’s latest SDG India Index. India’s overall score across SDGs improved by 6 points; from 60 in 2019 to 66 in 2020-21
Way forward and national action on the SDGs in India
NITI Aayog, the Government of India’s premier think tank, has been entrusted with the task of coordinating the SDGs. NITI Aayog has undertaken a mapping of schemes as they relate to the SDGs and their targets, and has identified lead and supporting ministries for each target. They have adopted a government-wide approach to sustainable development, emphasising the interconnected nature of the SDGs across economic, social and environmental pillars. States have been advised to undertake a similar mapping of their schemes, including centrally sponsored schemes.
In addition, the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation has been leading discussions for developing national indicators for the SDGs. State governments are the main key to country’s overall progress on the SDG Agenda and several states have already initiated action on implementing the SDGs.
Many of the Government’s flagship programmes such as Swachh Bharat, Make in India, Skill India, Ayushman Bharat, Start-up India, Pradhanmantri Jan Dhan Yojna and Digital India are at the core of the SDGs. State and local governments play a pivotal role in many of these programmes.
The role of local governments is equally important. Moreover, if we analyse all the goals we found that out of 17 SDGs, 15 are directly related to activities undertaken by local governments. State governments are paying keen attention to visioning, planning, budgeting, and developing implementation and monitoring systems for the SDGs.
IIFCL, an ISO 9001:2015 certified wholly owned Government of India organisation, has set up an in-house Environment and Social Safeguard Management Unit (ESMU). ESMU has contributed/participated in formulation of Draft Guidelines for Responsible Financing for Banking Sector. These are being developed by a working group under the aegis of IBA. The ESMU has contributed on MDP’s safeguards framework and helped many Government of India departments including MoEFCC from time to time for framing policies towards sustainable development and overall playing a vital role on achieving the countries SDGs.