Home News and Politics Are the SDGs Heading Towards a Dead End? Unveiling the Reality at Half-time- Prepare for Surprises!

Are the SDGs Heading Towards a Dead End? Unveiling the Reality at Half-time- Prepare for Surprises!

Are the SDGs Heading Towards a Dead End? Unveiling the Reality at Half-time- Prepare for Surprises!

Real Change Requires a Green Social Contract

In 2015, the United Nations embraced the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030. These goals, however, are not enough to bring about the real change needed to address the global challenges we face. What we need is a green social contract.

SDG,sustainable development goals,United Nations
Young people need a sense of social agency in the face of the ecological crises (Mr.vicpix/shutterstock.com)

Despite the escalating ecological crises, including heatwaves, floods, droughts, migration pressures, political conflicts, and humanitarian emergencies, progress in addressing these issues has been unsatisfactory. Surveys show that citizens recognize the urgency of these challenges and support measures to address them. However, political leaders have been unwilling or unable to take the necessary actions demanded by scientists.

While there have been numerous summits and efforts to increase pressure on governments, these have yielded few tangible results. The current system seems to disregard the interests of citizens and the overwhelming evidence of the need for urgent action. Political inertia and the power of veto coalitions that hinder progress contribute to this stagnation.

Another factor is the disproportionate responsibility of the wealthiest individuals for environmental and climate pollution. Their ability to cope with the consequences of the climate crisis leads to a lack of interest in climate protection. Excessive wealth obstructs the necessary social-ecological transformation.

Furthermore, the temporal nature of the climate crisis poses challenges for taking immediate action. The long-term consequences of inaction clash with the short-term focus of election cycles, leading to procrastination and delayed action. This is compounded by differences in the perception of urgency based on age cohorts. Younger populations prioritize climate policies, while older cohorts largely ignore the issue.

Political conflicts will continue to intensify, and democratic systems will face significant challenges as geopolitical power dynamics deepen and polarization increases. To drive the social-ecological transition, broad alliances among actors from different social groups are necessary. This requires an attractive vision of a sustainable future society, supported by opportunities for democratic participation and co-decision, such as citizens’ assemblies and participatory urban planning.

Consolidated institutional innovations, including strengthening the rights of nature and future generations, should also be embraced. We need to consider bold innovations, such as a UN ‘Ministry for the Future,’ to address the crisis of political representation.

Ultimately, the necessary transformation cannot rely solely on enlightened technocracy. It must come from bottom-up social mobilization and pressure. Citizens must demand the adoption of a green social contract that prioritizes sustainable development and paves the way for a better future.


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