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Sweden, Europe closest to achieving the SDGs

Jeffrey Sachs - SDGs

10 July 2018. Europe is the region doing best “by far” in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with Sweden topping a list presented at the annual High-­‐level  Political  Forum  on the progress of the SDGs.

The top fourteen countries on the list presented in a key-note speech by Professor Jeffrey Sachs, are all European; Japan being the highest non-European country at number 15. Three Nordic countries Sweden, Denmark and Finland are the top-three countries.

Thousands  of  high level  representatives  from  governments,  civil  society  and  the  private   sector  will  gather  at  the   Forum  this  month  to  take   stock  of  progress  on  the  Sustainable  Development  Goals  (SDGs)  aand  discuss  successes,   challenges  and  lessons  learnt  on  the  road  to  a  fairer,  more  peaceful  and  prosperous   world  on  a  healthy  planet  by  2030. 

Forty-­‐seven  countries  will  submit  their  Voluntary  National  Review  (VNRs)  -­‐  an   important,  evidence-­‐based  platform  to  highlight  national  implementation, bringing the total of countries having done so to 120.     

“We have only 12 more years to fully realize this transformative agenda, but these goals are absolutely within our reach,” said Liu Zhenmin, UN Under-Secretary-General of Economic and Social Affairs, in his opening remarks.

In the opening day’s keynote speech, Professor Sachs said that there were enough resources in the world for everyone to live free of poverty and it should not require a big effort on the part of large developed countries, to profoundly help those struggling in poverty.

Presenting league tables produced by his team and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia, pointed out that, the list of the top 10 countries closest to achieving the SDGs mirrors a complementary ranking of the world’s happiest countries. “It is literally the truth”, that sustainable development is the path to happiness, he said.

The happiest countries are the ones that tax themselves the most, he added, noting that Swedes think it is a good thing to pay half their national income to finance quality education and healthcare.

The United States, on the other hand, is “all about tax cuts for rich people”, he declared. “To achieve sustainable development, you have to pay for it,” he said, adding that tax cuts for the rich, stifles sustainable development.

The Forum meets annually under the auspices of ECOSOC, including a three-day ministerial segment, and is due to meet once every four years at the level of Heads of State and Government under the auspices of the UN General Assembly.


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