World 'failing' to meet development goals: UN chief

Guterres said Friday that 'the world is getting a failing grade' (Yuki IWAMURA)
Guterres said Friday that 'the world is getting a failing grade' (Yuki IWAMURA)

War and funding shortfalls have hampered progress toward the United Nations' flagship development goals which include action to combat climate change, the organization's Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned on Friday.

In 2015, UN member states adopted the Sustainable Development Goals, 17 targets to transform the world by 2030 including by completely ending extreme poverty and eliminating hunger.

But Guterres said Friday that "the world is getting a failing grade."

"Our failure to secure peace, to confront climate change, and to boost international finance is undermining development," he told a briefing in New York, unveiling the latest progress check on the targets.

"We must accelerate action for the sustainable development goals, and we don't have a moment to lose -- only 17 percent of the targets (are) on track."

Efforts to devote money and attention to the goals have been repeatedly set back, including by the Covid-19 pandemic, the wars in Ukraine, Gaza and Sudan, worsening climate catastrophes and sharp increases in the cost of living.

While countries were lagging on progress in many areas, there were glimmers of hope in the reduction of new HIV infections, growing internet access, and the "booming" use of renewables, Guterres said.

But "the denial of basic needs for so many is outrageous and inexcusable," he said.

Guterres said action to bring peace to the major conflicts raging globally coupled with efforts towards a green transition were needed.

"It means multiplying the lending capacity of multilateral development banks to provide more resources for climate action and sustainable development," he added.