UN economists have said the cost of achieving ambitious sustainable development targets is estimated at between $5.4 billion and $6.4 billion per year between now and 2030.
According to a report of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), this represents between $1,179 and $1,383 per person, per year.
It says for the world’s 48 developing economies, the cost is estimated at $337 billion annually, if they take the required action on climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution.
Although finding this kind of investment will likely be extremely difficult for countries with limited resources, the solution lies in allocating funding in cross-cutting areas such as education, which also advances gender equality, poverty reduction and innovation – all Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets.
“Merely increasing funds won’t guarantee success. Governments, companies, investors and institutions need to strategically allocate their resources.
“They don’t have to stretch every dollar to cover every goal,” Anu Peltola, who heads UNCTAD Statistics, said in a statement published on sidelines of 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly.
Analysis by UNCTAD indicates that the world’s wealthiest economies are expected to account for nearly 80 per cent of SDG expenditure between now and 2030.
It said these countries generally faced the highest annual per capita costs and the largest financing gaps.
“The Small island developing states also face high costs, with required spending on gender equality estimated at 3,724 dollars per person, almost three times the average global requirement.
“And while least developed countries face much lower costs per head, the required spending as a percentage of each nation’s overall economic output (GDP) is significant, reaching 47 per cent for education alone,” said the report.
The UNCTAD analysis reveals major shortfalls in national spending trends towards sustainability.
The biggest gap is in inclusive digitisation, at 468 billion dollars a year. Closing this gap would require a nine per cent increase in annual spending.
Conversely, it said improving social protection and decent job opportunities required less investment for the world’s 48 developing economies, at 294 billion dollars, which would require a six per cent increase in annual spending.
The analysis focused on six paths for transformation through sustainable development: social protection and decent jobs, transforming education, food systems, climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution, energy transition and inclusive digitisation.
It covered indicators ranging from reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing protected forest cover to guaranteeing universal access to electricity and the internet, promoting literacy, fighting hunger and reducing mortality.
UNCTAD’s report also highlighted the need to tackle the global debt crisis. Around 3.3 billion people live in countries that spend more on debt interest payments than on essential public services such as education and health.
By Cecillia Ologunagba