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Getting Serious About the SDGs

Since adopting the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, the “global community” has singularly failed to create the conditions needed to realize them. But by addressing three big problems in the international economic system, world leaders could yet help to put the SDGs back on track.

NEW DELHI – At the United Nations General Assembly meetings in New York later this month, world leaders will discuss a host of important issues – not least progress toward meeting the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. And some of the SDGs are highly topical, including those on climate action, decent work and economic growth, quality education, and partnerships to achieve the goals.

Yet this high-level global gathering is not generating much public enthusiasm. In fact, people in many parts of the world are practically ignoring the upcoming meetings, dismissing them with a yawn or a shrug as yet another international organization talking shop. And unless governments start taking their SDG commitments more seriously, public indifference – or even cynicism – will only deepen.

Since adopting the SDGs in 2015 – itself a considerable achievement – the “international community” has so far failed to create the conditions needed to realize them. Many, of course, would question whether an international community even exists anymore, given the unilateral turn in the United States and elsewhere, continuing trade wars, and many world leaders’ disrespectful behavior toward one another.