In Depth- India's Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 193 member countries, including India, got committed to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that require efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change while ensuring that no one was left behind.

India played a significant role in making the declaration and its progress in achieving these goals are crucial for the world as it is home to about 17% of the world population. The SDG India index, released by the NITI Aayog and the United Nations, shows that the nation has a score of 58, a little beyond halfway mark in meeting the target set for 2030.

What are SDG goals?

  • The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were born at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro in 2012.
  • The objective was to produce a set of universal goals that meet the urgent environmental, political and economic challenges facing the world.
  • The SDGs are a bold commitment to finish what the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) started, and tackle some of the more pressing challenges.
  • All 17 Goals interconnect, success in one-goal motivates for the success of others.
  • For example, dealing with the threat of climate change impacts how we manage our fragile natural resources, achieving gender equality or better health helps eradicate poverty, and fostering peace and inclusive societies will reduce inequalities and help economies prosper.

Why focus on Sustainable Development?

  • "Sustainable development is the development that meets the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.
  • The focus of sustainable development is far broader than just the environment. It's also about ensuring a strong, healthy and just society.
  • This means meeting the diverse needs of all people in existing and future communities, promoting personal wellbeing, social cohesion, and inclusion, and creating equal opportunity.
  • The rampant growth of industry had adversely affected the environment and is also against the ethos of sustainable development.
  • In 2018 itself we are 1.1 degrees above the pre-industrial temperature already. And if the greenhouse emissions are not drastically cut then by the end of the century the rise of the temperature could be 3—3.5 degree. Such an increase would have an irreversible and catastrophic impact across the world.

SDG India Index - Baseline Report 2018

  • NITI Aayog undertook the extensive exercise of measuring India and its States’ progress towards the SDGs for 2030, culminating in the development of the first SDG India Index - Baseline Report 2018.
  • The SDG India Index is intended to provide a holistic view of the social, economic and environmental status of the country and its States and UTs.
  • It has been designed to provide an aggregate assessment of the performance of all Indian States and UTs and to help leaders and change makers evaluate their performance on social, economic and environmental parameters.
  • The Index has been constructed spanning across 13 out of 17 SDGs (leaving out Goals 12, 13, 14 and 17).
  • It tracks the progress of all the States and Union Territories (UTs) on a set of 62 National Indicators, measuring their progress on the outcomes of interventions and schemes of the Government of India.
  • The SDG Index Score for Sustainable Development Goals 2030 ranges between 42 and 69 for States and between 57 and 68 for UTs.

Performance of States

  • Among the States, Kerala and Himachal Pradesh are the front runners with an SDG India Index score of 69. Among the UTs, Chandigarh is a front-runner with a score of 68.
  • Kerala’s top rank is attributed to its superior performance in providing good health, reducing hunger, achieving gender equality and providing quality education.
  • Himachal Pradesh ranks high in providing clean water and sanitation, in reducing inequalities and preserving mountain ecosystem.
  • Among the UTs, Chandigarh takes the lead because of its exemplary performance in providing clean water and sanitation to its people.
  • On the other hand states like Assam, Bihar and UP have featured badly in the index as their score was below 49.
  • The Index can be useful to States/UTs in assessing their starting point on the SDGs in the following ways, by
  • Supporting States/UTs to benchmark their progress against national targets and performance of their peers to understand the reasons for differential performance and devise better strategies to achieve the SDGs by 2030
  • Supporting States/UTs to identify priority areas in which they need to invest and improve by enabling them to measure incremental progress.
  • Highlighting data gaps related across SDGs for India to develop its statistical systems at the national and State levels.

SDGs and India’s Commitment

  • Clean Fuel
    • India introduces BS-VI petrol and diesel.
    • Delhi will be the first city to leapfrog from BS-IV to BS-VI.
    • 13 major cities like Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, etc. will make the shift from 1st Jan 2019.
    • The rest of the country will make the change from April 2020 next year.
  • No Plastics
    • India has pledged to eliminate all single-use plastic in the country by 2022.
  • International Solar Alliance (ISA)
    • ISA is a group of 121 solar rich countries which are situated either on or between the tropics.
    • Aims to deploy over 1000 GW of solar energy and mobilize more than $1000 billion into solar power by 2030.
  • Climate Change
    • To reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33 to 35 percent by 2030 from 2005 level.
    • To achieve about 40 percent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel based energy resources by 2030, with the help of transfer of technology and low-cost international finance, including from Green Climate Fund.
    • To create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.