Role of SDGs in India’s development

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Daily News-6th August 2017
August 6, 2017

Role of SDGs in India’s development

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Introduction

Sustainable development goals add on to the Millenium Development Goals. These are a set of 17 goals, including 169 targets, to be achieved by 2030 in order  to transform the world in a sustainable manner. Sustainable development is of utmost importance, as our mother earth is a closed system, with limited resources. Recently , Global Footprint Network along with WWF, published the Earth Overhsoot Day, which is the day of the year when we exhaust the resources available for the entire planet, for a particular year. This year Earth Overshoot Day was celebrated on 2nd August, which means that in seven months, we have already exhausted the resources that should have lasted for the entire year. So, from now one, whatever we consume , will be a loan from what we can consume next year. The concept of consumerism has a very important role to play in this ruthless consumption of resources. According to campaigners, the equivalent of 1.7 planets would be needed to produce enough natural resources to match our consumption rates and a growing population.

So, it is extremely important to look for sustainable development now. India is one of the most important pillars in achieving the targets set by SDGs, because most of the targets cannot be completed without India.

WHO Report on SDGs

  • Low- and middle-income countries including India may require up to $371 billion annually to meet life-saving global health targets by 2030, the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • Investments to expand services towards universal health coverage and the other SDG health targets could prevent 97 million premature deaths globally between now and 2030, and add as much as 8.4 years of life expectancy in some countries.
  • The Indian government’s investment on healthcare currently remains a dismal 1.2% of GDP.

According to its report ‘Global Infrastructure Outlook’, India has an infrastructure investment need of $4.5 trillion by 2040, making it the second largest infrastructure market in Asia after China. Taking sustainable development goals (SDGs) into account, the country is predicted to need an additional $888 billion by 2030 to provide universal household access to electricity and water.

In absolute terms, the total investment needed to meet the SDGs is greatest in India – a total of $1.3 trillion of investment is needed by 2030, more than China, which is $257 billion.

 

India’s report on inplementation of Sustainable Development Goals

There is broad consensus that the success or failure of the hard-negotiated 17 SDGs will largely depend on whether India is able to achieve them or not.

For instance, the target of Goal 1—to “End poverty in all its forms everywhere”—is unlikely to be achieved unless India attains it. According to one estimate, India alone is home to more than 30% of the global estimate of over one billion people who live in extreme poverty. According to another estimate, India has more poor than 26 of the poorest countries in Africa. In fact, according to World Bank president Jim Yong Kim, a single Indian state—Uttar Pradesh (UP)—accounts for 8% of the world’s population living in extreme poverty. Thus, if UP were to succeed, the world would be well on its way to achieving SDG Goal 1.

An umbrella of Indian civil society organizations, including some representing marginalized and minority groups, led by the Wada Na Todo Abhiyan, highlighted several other crucial SDGs, notably Goal 16—promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies—in their shadow report. In doing so the Wada Na Todo Abhiyan revealed another unintended benefit of the SDGs—the creation of rights movements among Indians to achieve the goals. This aspect has been completely missed out in the official reporting, which still treats the achievement of the goals as optional rather than mandatory.

Apart from the missing grand strategy, the report also makes little effort to connect how India’s success in the SDGs would benefit not only India but also other developing countries. It also fails to make the case that India’s achievement of the SDGs will enable it take on more global governance responsibilities.

Instead, the report makes a cursory reference to “South-South” cooperation, fails to mention South-North-South triangular cooperation entirely, and yet pleads for more overseas development assistance from the leading Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) donors. In doing so, it dents India’s case for taking on more global responsibility and also its burgeoning role as a donor. According to one estimate, India now provides development assistance to the tune $4.5 billion per year, which could easily be reduced if the national development goals become a priority.

India’s inability to link its SDG efforts with its global ambitions is telling, especially when compared to China. Last year, while presenting its voluntary national report, China highlighted its presidency of the G20 as being key for supporting industrialization in Africa and also announced the setting up of the China-UN Peace and Development Fund to “finance projects concerning peace and development.

If India has to play a global role, it needs to take its Sustainable Development Goals seriously. Close attention needs to be paid to inequities in health indicators as well as provision of services, especially along lines of caste, class, religion and geographical location. Specific concerns of marginalized groups especially Dalits, tribals, religious minorities and women must be taken into account in the designing and provisioning of health services, etc.

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