In September, world leaders met at the United Nations in New York to evaluate the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted in 2015.
The general assembly also discussed funding models to achieve the goals, especially enhancing domestic financing and aid amid global challenges such as immigration issues, climate change, debt distress, Covid-19, the Ukraine-Russia War and geopolitical tensions.
The leaders were supposed to report progress on all the 17 SDGs, including ending all forms of hunger, poverty and inequality by 2030.
The world is off track in most of the goals, especially the Global South.
The 2023 UN report on SDGs shows that about 700 million remain trapped in extreme poverty, which disproportionately affect regions particularly vulnerable to extreme weather events such as cyclones, floods and prolonged dry spells fuelled by climate change.
Since 2019, frequent cyclones have wiped out Malawi’s progress and slowed the race to achieve the SDGs. Therefore, solutions should focus on enhancing the resilience of vulnerable communities.
As many countries are recovering from the Covid-19 shocks, the war in Ukraine has accelerated inflation and disrupted the global value chain, making most countries vulnerable.
Global reforms are required to address this and make international financial institutions and global governance more future-proof.
Countries from the Global South must have a greater influence and role in crafting these reforms as their participation will reflect reality.
To address current and future challenges, global leaders must act with concrete solutions.
This calls for a worldwide financial infrastructure as proposed during the Bridgetown Initiative on Reforming Global Financial Architecture in France, which tackles systemic issues and attracts additional contributions to guarantee prompt payouts precisely matched to the needs and priorities.
A system that places grants above all instruments would benefit both the Global North and South democratically.
This reform recognises that domestic resource finance mobilisation has failed due to the grand challenges.
Even funds through development cooperation earmarked to fund the SDGs have decreased from the Global North, as most countries now focus on nationalistic and populist ideologies such as America First and Brexit.
The reforms should be radical as it becomes a mockery to value solidarity and pledges that are seldom honoured as in the case of climate change funding.
National governments need to develop programmes and policies that tackle the grand challenges. This should focus on reforms in policy formulation and implementation to promote public value and sustainability.
Collaboration is important to produce desired results.
The reforms should also look at network governance mechanisms by bringing different players who add value to the implementation of country development plans, such as Malawi 2063 for the country to attain middle income status by 2030.
Halfway to the 2030 deadline for the 17 SDGs, governments, especially in the Global South, should enhance governance institutions that promote transparency and accountability to ramp up public awareness and trust.
Governments’ policy reforms should promote collaboration and cooperation between the private sector and others to promote socially inclusive growth where the most vulnerable to participate in socio-economic development. This is not impossible.
With ethical governance, the government’s departments and political administrators have to strengthen cooperation among all parties engaged, develop trust and establish accountability to achieve revolutionary changes in the remaining seven years.
At the international level, developed countries should follow and commit to implementing the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and provide the resources required for developing countries to achieve SDGs and leave no one behind.