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Experts: World failing on sustainable goals warn UN appointed scientists

Monash University 3 mins read

In the lead up to the UN SDG Summit 2023, leading Monash scientist, Associate Professor Shirin Malekpour - along with a handful of global experts appointed by the UN to assess SDG progress - have warned that the world is not on track to achieve any of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the agreed 2030.


In a Nature comment piece, Associate Professor Malekpour and Dr Cameron Allen from the Monash Sustainable Development Institute and colleagues call on scientists to support policymakers and others in rethinking humanity’s approach to achieving the SDGs.


The authors highlight three priority areas for action: removing the roadblocks to progress, finding feasible and cost-effective pathways to the goals, and strengthening governance.


Their insights draw from the UN’s Global Sustainable Development Report 2023, (GSDR), co-written by Associate Professor Malekpour who is the first and only Australian selected by the UN to join the independent group of scientists.


In Australia, research and national modelling done by Dr Allen shows quick gains can be made on 52 SDG targets by following a green-economy pathway. 


In addition to the green investment, spending an extra 2.5% of GDP per annum on health, education and social subsidies and transfers, along with policies to address inequality, would boost average progress on the SDGs to 70% by 2030. This compares to just 42% progress if governments focus only on delivering more-rapid economic growth,” Dr Allen said.


This year marks the half-way point to the deadline set for achieving the 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Goals. The report, which informs the UN’s political declaration marks the beginning of a new phase of accelerated implementation of the 2030 Agenda and will influence discussions on the state of the planet and human society at the SDG Summit 2023

Associate Professor Malekpour is available to discuss the findings of the UN Global Sustainable Development Report 2023 and Australia’s progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Associate Professor Shirin Malekpour, Monash Sustainable Development Institute

Contact:  Via WhatsApp from New York: +61 458 366 208 or +61 433 903 503  

The following quotes can be attributed to Associate Professor Malekpour:

“Global scenario projections show that business-as-usual will not achieve the SDGs by 2030 or even 2050. This would mean a future world that is more unequal with large populations still living in extreme poverty and with greater vulnerability to shocks and crises which undermine global stability and prosperity.


“We have passed the era of SDG pledges - now is time for tangible action plans. I hope to see the recommendations of the report adopted in the political declaration at the SDG Summit, through commitments to concrete plans for accelerated progress in the next few years.”


Monash research central to the report’s findings and advice to countries


In addition to working with Associate Professor Malekpour on synthesising the latest knowledge on global pathways to the SDGs, Dr Allen’s research has also evaluated Australia’s current progress on the SDGs and used national modelling to project how different policies and scenarios could accelerate Australia’s progress towards the SDGs by 2030. This has gained considerable global interest from countries seeking to advance national progress on the SDGs.

Dr Cameron Allen, Monash Sustainable Development Institute

Contact: +61 435 928 492 or  

Dr Allen is currently based in Australia


The following quotes can be attributed to Dr Allen:


At the current rate, 2030 will see 575 million people living in extreme poverty, 600 million people facing hunger, and 84 million children and young people out of school. Our planet will overshoot the Paris climate agreement’s 1.5 °C ‘safe’ guardrail on average global temperature rise. And it will take 300 years to attain global gender equality. 

“However, ambitious pathways exist where decisive action by governments accelerates global progress on the SDGs by 2030 with many goals achieved by 2050. Such pathways combine a mix of ambitious policies including for climate action, progressive income redistribution, healthy nutrition, clean energy, sustainable agriculture, and biodiversity protection. 

“For Australia, progress tends to lag behind on environmental goals (such as climate change and biodiversity) as well targets relating to inequality and affordability - as such, strong gains can be made on the SDGs through policies to accelerate progress in these areas.”


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