As reports explain, the basis of evaluation were the 17 ‘objectives for sustainable development’, adopted in the UN’s Agenda 2030 four years ago.
Portugal leads the field when it comes to objective 7 (involving the percentage of the population with access to clean energy and technology, levels of CO2 released through the burning of fossil fuels and the amount of renewable energy used in the consumption of energy).
But after that results appear to slide.
Explains Lusa news agency, “in a general way, the report concludes that changes and the sustainable development of the world are too slow, and will not guarantee compliance with the objectives of 2030” – now less than 10 years away.
Even in its enviable 26th position, Portugal’s results show that “there exist some obstacles with regard to the quality of health (objective 3), economic growth and decent working terms and conditions (objective 8) and sustainable towns and communities (objective 11).
The report stresses that the country “continues with major challenges to eradicate hunger and comply with objectives 12, 13 and 14 (relating to the production and consumption of sustainable energy, action on climate change and protection of marine life).
“In common with the majority of countries”, Portugal has scored a negative in terms of effort for objective 13 (action on climate change) which involves the adoption of urgent measures to combat climate alterations caused by national policies, strategies and political directions, adds Lusa.
In other words, the ‘top 30 countries’ are still nowhere near perfect: they are simply not doing as badly as the 132 others.
“The Future is Now: Science For Achieving Sustainable Development” will be officially presented at the UN summit taking place in New York later this month (between September 24-25).
The scientists behind it “consider that the progress made in the last 20 years is at risk of going backwards on itself due to social inequalities and “potentially irreversible” environmental decline.
Backed to the hilt by UN secretary-general António Guterres – who has sounded his concerns for the environment as loudly as anyone can – the bottom line is that developed countries “must alter the dynamics of production and consumption by limiting the use of fossil fuels and plastic”, and by offering incentives to all types of investment in sustainable development.
Science and politics “should assume more relevant roles in the transformation of four of the most important areas when it comes to “the human relationship with Nature – currently dysfunctional”, explains Lusa.
These four areas are “the use of natural resources, the food chain, production and consumption and the sustainability of cities, which in 2050 will be inhabited by two-thirds of the population”.
How scientists’ exhortations will translate into political will is what remains to be seen. Certainly Guterres stresses in his forward to the 480-page study “our world as we know it
and the future we want are at risk. Despite considerable efforts these past four years, we are not on track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. We must dramatically step up the pace of implementation as we enter a decisive decade for people and the planet. We must connect the dots across all that we do – as individuals, civic groups, corporations, municipalities and Member States of the United Nations – and truly embrace the principles of inclusion and sustainability”.
As for the other 29 ‘winning’ countries (all of which ‘could do better’), these are led by Denmark (in first place with 85.2 points), Sweden, Finland, France, Austria, Germany, the Czech Republic, Norway, Holland and Estonia.