Home/ Politics / News/  ‘Wealthy countries have neglected the global SDG agenda’

Kumarakom (Kerala): Last week, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its report that detailed the devastating consequences of greenhouse gas emissions, and warned that the world needs to change course to avoid irreversible damage. It said global warming is already causing unprecedented changes to climate and called for more funding, especially for developing countries to adopt a low-carbon pathway to development. Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs, director, Centre for Sustainable Development, Columbia University, tells Mint in an interview what needs to be done to reverse the direction before it is too late. He was a keynote speaker at a side event on green development held as part of 2nd Sherpa meeting of India’s G20 presidency. Edited excerpts:

The world has faced multiple global crises in recent years. How are they impacting sustainable development?

The Ukraine war, Western sanctions regime, covid, climate change and US-China tensions are all worsening the global trajectory on sustainable development. The G20 is a vital process to get back on track.

The latest report by IPCC paints a grim picture on funding for sustainable development. How can this be reversed?

The single biggest problem is that rich countries have access to capital on vastly better terms than poorer countries. Capital flows to those that already have capital. We need to expand development finance on a vast scale, roughly 10X, especially through multilateral and national development banks. The World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, New Development Bank, and others, should increase their loan flow by roughly 10X in the coming five years, and should be fully capitalized by their owners to achieve this rapid upscaling of financing.

Will the SDG goals be met by 2030?

Most countries will fall short of the goals, and some will fall far short. The poorer countries will fall short of the goals mainly because they lack the financing needed for SDG investments at scale. The rich countries have neglected the global agenda, failing to take concrete steps to support it. Most richer countries will also fall short of the goals because they are not trying hard enough domestically.

Is it possible to have a green development that reduces poverty, creates quality jobs and bridges inequality?

Yes. The key is well-structured plans at the national and regional level and adequate financing to back up these plans. The six priority areas for investment are: education, health, energy transformation, sustainable land use and agriculture, urban infrastructure, and digital transformation.

Is G-20 doing enough to promote green development?

The G20 under the leadership of India this year, Brazil next year, and South Africa in 2025 can reset the global financial architecture to make sure that every part of the world can make the investments needed for sustainable development.

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Updated: 31 Mar 2023, 12:31 AM IST
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