What Are Sustainable Development Goals? Let’s Navigate the Challenges of Financing SDGs

What Are Sustainable Development Goals?

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) represent a universal call to action, a shared blueprint to end poverty, protect the environment, and ensure prosperity for all. These 17 interconnected goals, ranging from ending poverty and hunger to addressing climate change and promoting economic growth, embody our collective vision for a better world. As we assess the progress and challenges faced in achieving these goals, it becomes clear that we are at a critical juncture.

Sustainable Development Goals – Bangladesh’s Stance

Bangladesh, currently ranked 101st among 166 countries in the  Sustainable Development Goals index, stands ahead of its South Asian neighbors India and Pakistan. This demonstrates the nation’s commitment to the global agenda for sustainable development. However, the path to achieving these goals is fraught with complexities that transcend borders and require collective effort.

At the heart of the SDGs lies a collection of targets and indicators for each goal, outlining specific areas where action is needed. These targets, which typically range from 8 to 12 per goal, underscore the multifaceted nature of development. They encompass outcome targets that define what needs to be achieved and means of implementation targets that address how the goals are to be realized. Goal 17 specifically emphasizes the means of achieving all   Sustainable Development Goals, highlighting the importance of collaboration and partnership.

A Closer Look at Critical Key Goals of SDGs

Let’s delve into a few critical  Sustainable Development Goals to better understand the challenges and opportunities they present:

SDG 1End Poverty – Aims to eradicate poverty in all its forms. This goal underscores the need to address extreme poverty, provide social protection, and ensure equal rights to resources while building resilience to adversities.
SDG 2Zero Hunger – Strives to end hunger and improve nutrition through sustainable agriculture and genetic diversity. Investments, research, and technology play a crucial role in achieving this goal.
SDG 7Affordable Energy – Ensuring access to sustainable energy is a priority. Progress in expanding electricity access, energy efficiency, and renewable energy has been notable in countries like Kenya, Bangladesh, and India.
SDG 13Climate Action – Urgent action to combat climate change is vital. The IPCC emphasizes the importance of strengthening resilience and integrating climate measures into policies and planning
SDG 15Biodiversity and Ecosystems – Protecting, restoring, and sustainably managing terrestrial ecosystems, and forests, and halting land degradation are crucial in halting biodiversity loss.

The Financial Dilemma in Sustainable Development Goals & Challenges to Progress

Despite the noble intentions behind the SDGs, challenges abound. Governments and businesses often prioritize social and economic goals over environmental ones. The need for substantial funding is evident, with the UN estimating that Africa alone requires $1.3 trillion annually for Sustainable Development Goals achievement. Additionally, mitigating climate change necessitates $50 billion just for adaptation. These financial requirements underscore the magnitude of the task at hand.

Efforts to Secure Funding, Financing and Governance

In 2017, the UN initiated the Inter-agency Task Force on Financing for Development (UN IATF on FfD), highlighting the need for a global public dialogue. The initiative recognized the diverse sources of financing, including official development assistance (ODA), remittances from expatriates, and private capital investment. The Rockefeller Foundation (RF) echoed this sentiment in 2017, emphasizing the moral imperative to mobilize over $200 trillion in annual private capital investment flows to catalyze SDG achievement.

Efforts to finance the Sustainable Development Goals have called for public dialogue, emphasizing not only official development assistance but also remittances and private capital investment. However, a meta-analysis revealed limited evidence of substantial funding reallocation for SDGs. This reflects the need for a coordinated international effort to mobilize resources effectively.

The United Nations, with its history of reforms and inclusive governance, is well-suited to lead the way. To succeed, all stakeholders must feel a part of the reform agenda. Addressing international macro-financial imbalances and budget deficits is paramount.

The Role of Private Finance and Technology Transfer

Private finance, while needed, can also be problematic when inadequately regulated. Many developing countries lack liquidity during financial crises except on stringent IMF terms. Appropriate technology transfer is essential for progress, while private creditors’ reluctance to participate in debt reduction poses challenges.

Private finance is essential for the Sustainable Development Goals, but it can also pose challenges when inadequately regulated. Many developing countries still lack access to liquidity during financial crises, often subject to onerous IMF terms. The lack of appropriate technology transfer hampers progress, while private creditors’ reluctance to participate in debt reduction complicates the situation. Trade protectionism further muddles the path forward.

 Sustainable Development Goals – Facing Trade Protectionism

It’s crucial to acknowledge that, with the recent reversals in trade liberalization and the emergence of new Cold War-era sanctions, UN resolutions discussed and potentially accepted in the coming years must be realistic to gain broad acceptance and feasibility.

The resurgence of trade protectionism adds another layer of complexity. As global dynamics shift, UN resolutions must be realistic and broadly accepted to remain effective.


The journey toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals is rife with challenges, but it is not insurmountable. It requires global cooperation, financial commitments, and a renewed focus on balancing social, economic, and environmental objectives. As we stand at this crossroads, the United Nations’ role in leading this quest for better economic governance and reform is more vital than ever. With the stakes high, the world must work together to ensure a sustainable and prosperous future for all, transcending boundaries and shaping a better world for generations to come.

The journey toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals is rife with challenges, but it is not insurmountable. It requires global cooperation, innovative financing mechanisms, and a renewed focus on balancing social, economic, and environmental objectives. The SDGs represent a global imperative, and as we navigate these challenges, the international community must remain steadfast in its commitment to building a sustainable and prosperous future for all.

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