Economic Progress towards sustainable development

The uneven pace of global economic recovery continues to raise concerns regarding prospects for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Many countries have even suffered recent setbacks, as average incomes declined in four major developing regions in 2016.

In 2017–2019, further setbacks or negligible growth in per capita gross domestic product (GDP) is anticipated in Central, Southern and West Africa, Western Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean. These regions combined are home to 275 million people living in extreme poverty. This underscores the importance of addressing some of the longer-term structural issues that hold back more rapid progress towards sustainable development and to ensure that the targets of eradicating poverty and creating decent jobs for all are not pushed further from reach. Failure to address these issues may leave a quarter of the population of Africa in extreme poverty by 2030.

Very few of the least developed countries (LDCs) are expected to reach the Sustainable Development Goal target for GDP growth of “at least 7 per cent” in the near term. Approaching this target will require higher levels of investment in many LDCs. Mobilizing necessary financial resources may be approached through various combinations of domestic and international, public and private sources of finance. However, more rapid progress in many of the LDCs is hindered by institutional deficiencies, inadequate basic infrastructure, high levels of exposure to weather-related shocks and natural disasters, as well as challenges related to security and political uncertainty. These barriers must be addressed to ensure that available finance is channelled efficiently towards productive investment.

Very few of the least developed countries (LDCs) are expected to reach the Sustainable Development Goal target for GDP growth of “at least 7 per cent” in the near term. Approaching this target will require higher levels of investment in many LDCs. Mobilizing necessary financial resources may be approached through various combinations of domestic and international, public and private sources of finance. However, more rapid progress in many of the LDCs is hindered by institutional deficiencies, inadequate basic infrastructure, high levels of exposure to weather-related shocks and natural disasters, as well as challenges related to security and political uncertainty. These barriers must be addressed to ensure that available finance is channelled efficiently towards productive investment.

Transition towards sustainable energy is advancing at a gradual pace. Renewables account for more than half of all recently installed power capacity, but still provide only about 11 per cent of global power generation. China remains the world’s biggest investor in renewables, and renewable investment in 2017 will be supported by massive wind projects in Australia, China, Germany, Mexico, the United Kingdom and the United States. At a time when many countries, notably in Africa, continue to suffer from severe shortages of energy supply, there is enormous potential to lay the basis of environmentally sustainable growth in the future through smart policies and investments today.

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