More funds, action needed to meet SDGs

India must enhance spending on healthcare and education, improve women's participation in the workforce, and strengthen partnerships with private and NGO sectors.
Image used for representation.
Image used for representation.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Report 2024 released by the UN shows that India has made impressive progress in areas such as poverty reduction, infrastructure development and transition to green energy. The country, however, faces major challenges on other counts such as building accountable institutions, peaceful and inclusive society, and providing justice for all. Health, building sustainable cities, gender and income inequalities are other areas of concern, according to the report.

The SDG report is the only official UN evaluation of the progress made by member countries on the 2030 agenda for sustainable growth. There are six years remaining to achieve the targets adopted by 191 countries in 2015. In order to meet the deadline, India needs to substantially increase its spending on health and education. Enrolment rates have increased, but the quality of education and employability of students remain a challenge.

Women’s participation in the job market, and access to healthcare, especially among marginalised communities, remain low and need to be addressed. India’s large population and multiple challenges need a collaborative effort by building a partnership with the private sector and non-government organisations. Time was lost due to the pandemic.

In order to reach even close to the 2030 targets, the government needs to improve its data collection, so that its decision-making is based on unassailable numbers. A robust monitoring mechanism, along with adequate allocation of funds is the only way to achieve a sustainable and resilient society as envisaged in 2015.

Environmental degradation is another challenge. Air and water pollution, deforestation and biodiversity loss need to be addressed as priorities. There is a continuous and massive migration from rural to urban centres. Providing housing, sanitation, transportation and managing waste in the swelling cities require better handling.

Climate change is no longer a distant threat. India witnessed its impact yet again in recent weeks, with unprecedented temperatures and torrential rains that caused the loss of hundreds of lives. The SDG 2024 report has underlined the areas India must take up on priority to improve the quality of its citizens’ lives. It provides a blueprint for building a resilient and sustainable India, as it does for the rest of the world too. It’s time to accelerate the policy actions that would move us closer to achieving the goals.

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The New Indian Express