World Falling behind on Environment, Health and Hunger Goals, UN Report Says

 A Palestinian boy watches his portion of food aid ahead of the upcoming Eid al-Adha holiday in Khan Younis, Saturday, June 15, 2024. (AP)
A Palestinian boy watches his portion of food aid ahead of the upcoming Eid al-Adha holiday in Khan Younis, Saturday, June 15, 2024. (AP)
TT

World Falling behind on Environment, Health and Hunger Goals, UN Report Says

 A Palestinian boy watches his portion of food aid ahead of the upcoming Eid al-Adha holiday in Khan Younis, Saturday, June 15, 2024. (AP)
A Palestinian boy watches his portion of food aid ahead of the upcoming Eid al-Adha holiday in Khan Younis, Saturday, June 15, 2024. (AP)

The world is way off track on most of the sustainable development targets agreed in 2015, such as tackling poverty and hunger, says a United Nations report which cites funding shortfalls, geopolitical tensions and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The UN's annual Sustainable Development Report ranks the performance of its 193 member states in implementing 17 wide-ranging "sustainable development goals" (SDGs), which also include improving access to education and health care, providing clean energy and protecting biodiversity.

It found that none of the 17 goals were on course to be met by 2030, with most targets showing "limited or a reversal of progress". It urged countries to address chronic funding shortfalls and also revamp the UN system itself.

"What this report is showing is that even before the pandemic hit, progress was already too slow," said Guillaume Lafortune, Vice President at the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and lead author of the report.

"Once the pandemic hit, and other crises - including military conflicts - then it is a story of stagnation."

The report identified the tackling of hunger, the creation of sustainable cities and the protection of biodiversity on land and water as particular areas of weakness. Political goals like press freedom have also seen a "reversal of progress".

It said Finland, Sweden and Denmark ranked at the top of the list of countries, and China has also made faster than average progress, but the world's poorest countries have fallen further behind.

Lafortune said developing countries needed more access to international finance, adding that institutions like credit rating agencies should be encouraged to take a country's long-term environmental and economic wellbeing into consideration, rather than just its short-term liquidity.

The report also assessed countries on their willingness to cooperate globally through UN institutions. The United States was ranked in last place.

"A large majority of countries are supportive of collaborating... but there are a number of great powers that do not play by the rules of the game," said Lafortune.



EU Commission Boss Von der Leyen Elected for 2nd Five-Year Term

Ursula von der Leyen reacts after being chosen President of the European Commission for a second term, at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, July 18, 2024. REUTERS/Johanna Geron/File Photo
Ursula von der Leyen reacts after being chosen President of the European Commission for a second term, at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, July 18, 2024. REUTERS/Johanna Geron/File Photo
TT

EU Commission Boss Von der Leyen Elected for 2nd Five-Year Term

Ursula von der Leyen reacts after being chosen President of the European Commission for a second term, at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, July 18, 2024. REUTERS/Johanna Geron/File Photo
Ursula von der Leyen reacts after being chosen President of the European Commission for a second term, at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, July 18, 2024. REUTERS/Johanna Geron/File Photo

Ursula von der Leyen won a second term as president of the European Commission on Thursday after pledging to create a continental "defense union" and to stay the course on Europe's green transition while cushioning its burden on industry.
Members of the European Parliament backed von der Leyen's bid for another five-year term at the helm of the European Union's powerful executive body with 401 votes in her favor and 284 against in a secret ballot in the 720-member chamber.
In an address to the Parliament in Strasbourg earlier in the day, von der Leyen, 65, laid out a program focused on prosperity and security, shaped by the challenges of Russia's war in Ukraine, global economic competition and climate change.
"The next five years will define Europe’s place in the world for the next five decades. It will decide whether we shape our own future or let it be shaped by events or by others," von der Leyen said ahead of the vote.
She stressed the need not to backtrack on the "Green Deal" transformation of the EU economy to fight climate change - a key pledge for Green lawmakers, who joined her core coalition of center-right, center-left and liberal groups in supporting her.
After pledging to support Ukraine for as long as it takes in its fight against Russia, von der Leyen said Europe's liberty was at stake and that it must invest more in defense.

Von der Leyen pledged to create "a true European Defense Union,” with flagship projects on air and cyber defense.
The plan sparked criticism from the Kremlin, which said it reflected an attitude of "militarization (and) confrontation.”

She also vowed to tackle housing shortages across Europe and said she would appoint a commissioner for the Mediterranean region due to the multiple challenges it faces.
She also took a swipe at Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his recent visit to Russia shortly after his country took over the rotating six-month EU presidency.
"This so-called peace mission was nothing but an appeasement mission,” von der Leyen said as she vowed that Europe would remain shoulder-to-shoulder with Ukraine.