Integral Human Development

Time is Running Out for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

1Helga Martins

Pos-doctoral Fellow at Integral Human Development Program, PhD, RN, Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Doctoral School (CADOS). Faculty of Health Sciences and Nursing, Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Health, Lisbon, Portugal.

Instituto Politécnico de Beja, Escola Superior de Saúde. R. Dr. José Correia Maltez, 7800-111 Beja, Portugal.



Time is Running Out for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

We need to rewind to 2015, a pivotal moment when the 2030 Agenda was established, comprising 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This comprehensive and highly ambitious agenda tackles multiple dimensions of sustainable development. In this way, the following SDGs were outlined:

  1. No poverty
  2. Zero hunger
  3. Good health and well-being
  4. Quality education
  5. Gender equality
  6. Clean water and sanitation
  7. Affordable and clean energy
  8. Decent work and economic growth
  9. Industry, innovation, and infrastructure
  10. Reduced inequality
  11. Sustainable cities and communities
  12. Responsible consumption and production
  13. Climate action
  14. Life below water
  15. Life on land
  16. Peace, justice, and strong institutions
  17. Partnerships for the goals

The SDGs, which were created by the United Nations (UN), came to respond to the task of meeting various challenges such as poverty, hunger, health, inequalities, education, health, environmental protection, etc. These SDGs align closely with the principles of Integral Human Development, in which the aim is to achieve sustainable and integral development that extends beyond the economy, but also from a social, health and environmental perspective.

Recently, the UN SDG Report (2022) provided an assessment of the current status in relation to the predefined objectives, and mentions that we are far short of achieving these goals. The exacerbating factors in this scenario, were mainly related with the Covid-19 pandemic, political instability and wars were aggravating points. Looking at the objective 3 “Good health and well-being”, Covid-19 had a negative impact in mental health, with the increase of 25% of the global prevalence of anxiety and depression particularly in women and young people (UN SDG Report, 2022). In addition, Covid-19 similarly worsened uneven progress towards universal health coverage, vaccination coverage in children and the fight against tuberculosis, AIDS and malaria (UN SDG Report, 2022).

Another report, called “Measuring progress: Environment and the SDGs”, from the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), leaves us with enormous concern and a serious warning. Regarding the environment, around 33% of the desirable indicators of the SDGs are regressing and it is impossible to think about the sustainability of the environment, given these results.

The results regarding the earlier objectives are disheartening, and the progress towards the remaining goals is also falling short of desired targets. Besides, we only have six years left to achieve the desired goals, and time is running out.

We consider that there is still a substantial inertia, in the sense that political entities need to have a more proactive role in achieving these goals. Therefore, we cannot delay these decisions is not an option as they jeopardize the future generations and the sustainable development of the society.


United Nations. (2022). The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2022.

United Nations. (2015). Transforming our world: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

OpenEdition sugere que esta publicação seja citada da seguinte forma:
helgamartins (1 de Maio de 2024). Time is Running Out for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Desenvolvimento Humano Integral. Recuperado em 15 de Julho de 2024 de

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