This article is written by Daksh Ghai, from Symbiosis Law School, Noida. The article provides a brief overview of India’s position in implementing the SDG, as well as the different initiatives which are taken by the government to accomplish the goals by 2030 and the challenges the government faces in doing so.
Table of Contents
The sustainable development goals (SDGs) are a framework for a better and more sustainable future for everyone. The United Nations (UN) General Assembly held its 70th session on September 25, 2015, with the goal of advancing the Millennium Development Goals’ success, adopted the document “Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for sustainable development,” which includes 17 sustainable development goals and 169 associated targets.
The sustainable development goals (SDGs) came into effect on January 1, 2016. The sustainable development goals (SDGs) are a set of global goals that integrate social, economic, and environmental aspects of development. Furthermore, the SDGs are universal (meaning they apply to all countries, developed, developing, and least developed), because everyone is interdependent and indivisible; thorough and participative measures to bring everyone together are required to ensure that no one is left behind. Countries are in charge of monitoring and reviewing progress toward achieving the goals and targets at the national level until 2030. As per the report, India’s rank has fallen to 120 out of 165 countries in 2021. India had also slipped to 117th place in 2020, down from 115th place in 2019.
Sustainable development goals and India
India’s involvement in goal-setting and target-setting
India has vociferously pushed for the concerns of developing countries as a member of the Open Working Group (OWG) tasked with preparing a proposal on the SDGs. India emphasized the importance of quick and inclusive economic growth in moving large numbers of impoverished people out of poverty. It has also stated that, while much has been accomplished in terms of infrastructure development, bringing development to all segments of society remains a major problem. All developing countries around the world continue to face these issues. India has taken the position that the SDGs must be a development agenda. While poverty eradication and development through inclusive economic growth remain at the top of the development agenda, these massive challenges will necessitate extra resources and capacity-building activities. As a result, India has prioritized international collaboration to aid development, as well as suitable methods of execution, such as increased Official Development Assistance (ODA) and technology transfer on favorable terms to aid developing countries.
Measures taken for implementing SDGs in India
The NITI Aayog has been in charge of overseeing the national implementation of the SDGs. The NITI Aayog has completed the mapping of all SDGs, Central Ministries, and Centrally-sponsored schemes as part of the implementation process; NITI Aaayog has also consulted with other stakeholders at the national and regional levels, including states and union territories.
The 2030 Agenda’s integrated character necessitates governments working beyond policy silos and setting ambitious and interconnected economic, social, and environmental goals that extend beyond short-term political cycles. The Indian government is operating with strategic visioning, prioritization, and implementation methods. The Indian government is dedicated to achieving sustainable development goals.
The government has launched a range of national welfare and development projects as part of its commitment to achieving the SDGs. In the spirit of the sustainable development goals’ motto of “Leaving No One Behind”, the government is committed to ensuring “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas.” The NITI Aayog is in charge of issuing the SDG India Index, a report on India’s progress toward the United Nations’ sustainable development goals. First, the research formalized how the SDGs could be measured using existing public data on India’s sustainable development, and then it compared SDG attainment across states, identifying both achievements and investment priorities.
The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation
One of the important participants in the implementation of the SDGs is the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation. Indicators are essential for tracking progress and determining the extent to which targets and goals have been met. In India, the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) has created 306 national indicators in line with the 169 SDG targets and the Global Indicators Framework. In addition to the 306 indicators, 62 priority indicators have been established for measuring India’s most essential developmental goals.
The MoSPI has taken many initiatives to resolve data gaps for SDG indicators. The Ministry meets with line Ministries/Departments and their respective Custodian Agencies on a regular basis. MoSPI, NITI Aayog, and the United Nations, represented by the United Nations Resident Coordinator Office (UNRCO) in New Delhi, India, have signed a Tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on support for data, indicators, and statistics for monitoring the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in India. The MoU’s overarching goal is to collaborate on issues relating to statistical monitoring of SDG Goals and Targets, including the use of new technologies, capacity development to track SDG-related outcomes, and any other challenges that may arise.
MoSPI has formed six theme-based Sectoral Committees on SDGs, with members from relevant data source Ministries, UN Agencies/development partners, research institutions, and others, to collaborate on developing a methodology for SDG global indicators in the Indian context, as well as identifying data gaps in SDG monitoring. The discussions held in these groups have proven to be extremely beneficial in improving the SDG monitoring framework. The six sectoral committees’ themes are as follows:
i. Food security, agriculture, and poverty;
ii. Labour & employment and education;
iii. Health and gender-related issues;
iv. Climate change and the environment;
v. Capacity building and good governance;
vi. Big data, artificial intelligence, blockchain, and machine learning for SDGs.
Monitoring and evaluation
In order to measure the progress of the developmental objectives and targets, review and monitoring have been given much significance in the SDGs. The United Nations Resolution emphasizes the significance of follow-up on a national, regional, and global level. For evaluating the progress of the SDGs, a Global Indicator Framework with 247 indicators has been established. The High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) has also been established at the global level. It plays a key role in the global assessment and reporting of the SDGs, as well as providing further direction.
Voluntary National Review
Countries are urged to conduct regular national and subnational reviews of progress as part of their follow-up and review systems. Both developed and developing countries are recommended to participate in these reviews, which will be voluntary and state-led. As a result, these are referred to as Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs). The purpose is to allow the sharing of experiences, such as achievements, problems, and lessons learned, in order to speed up the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
Progress in terms of goals
Goal 1: No poverty
By 2030, Goal 1 aspires to eradicate poverty in all of its forms worldwide. This entails not just lifting earnings over the official poverty line, but also doing it in a way that takes into account the different social and economic circumstances of women, children, and other vulnerable groups. That involves putting in place social safety nets, ensuring disadvantaged groups have access to economic resources, making direct investments in vulnerable areas, and devising disaster mitigation techniques.
The official poverty line in India is defined as the bare minimum required for food, education, health, electricity, and transportation. In 2011, the National Statistics Office’s Suresh Tendulkar Committee determined this line to be 27.2 Rs/day in rural regions and 33.3 Rs/day in urban areas, whereas the Reserve Bank’s Rangarajan panel determined it to be 32 Rs/day in rural areas and 47 Rs/day in urban areas. Both of these definitions have been criticised as being too low and politically motivated to indicate progress in lifting people out of poverty, and both were less than half of the World Bank’s 1.25 USD/day international poverty level at the time. As of 2019, 2.9 percent of the population lived on less than $1.90 a day, the World Bank’s current extreme poverty line.
The government has supported several social protection measures for the poor and vulnerable in order to alleviate the crushing poverty, particularly in rural areas. The government began piloting universal healthcare initiatives through the Ayushman Bharat scheme, which provides comprehensive primary healthcare as well as secondary and tertiary care to 100 million families in the country. India has achieved the position of a low-middle-income country, and extreme poverty is becoming less prevalent.
The southern states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh have had the most success in reducing poverty, with isolated triumphs in the Northeast and the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand. With the addition of Goa, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, and Punjab, the aforementioned states have already met or are on their way to meeting the GOI aim of halving the national poverty rate. Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Telangana are among the Indian states having the highest rates of health insurance coverage, which is crucial for avoiding poverty. Various central and northern states ranging from Bihar in the east to Maharashtra in the west, on the other hand, have struggled to reduce poverty, partly due to a lack of rural opportunities and partly due to urban influences. Nearly 40% of the population of Chhattisgarh lives below the national poverty line.
Goal 2: Zero hunger
Goal 2 strives to eradicate all forms of hunger, malnutrition, and the structural factors that contribute to it. This includes achieving the World Health Organization’s targets of a 40% decrease in stunting in children under the age of five and a 5 percent reduction in childhood wasting. In India, malnutrition is endemic. India is home to 24% of the world’s malnourished, as well as 30% of stunted children under the age of five, whereas wasting affects 21% of children under the age of five.
Early childhood malnutrition is exacerbated by a high rate of anaemia in pregnant mothers, with India having the highest prevalence of anaemia in pregnancy. This aim can be met by focusing on sufficient nutrition for adolescent females and pregnant women. Increasing agricultural production and small farmer incomes by improving access to agricultural supplies, services, and market possibilities is one way to alleviate the structural factors that cause hunger. It also entails increasing access to improved seeds and investing in agricultural research, rural infrastructure, and crop genetic diversity at the national and international levels. Finally, it necessitates the development of long-term food production methods that boost productivity while also increasing soil health and sustaining climate resilience and flexibility.
One of the first steps towards improving nutrition outcomes in a country with a population of over a billion people and little available land for agriculture is to simply increase the amount of food that farmers can produce. The Green Revolution in the 1950s and 1960s was the first wave of agricultural intensification in India. Since 1950-51 (when the Green Revolution was largely implemented in Punjab’s northern region), agricultural yields of food grains have increased by more than fourfold, reaching 2,070 kg/hectare in 2014-15, with significant variance between states. Continued productivity gains, with an emphasis on women and indigenous people, will create market results that will allow undernourished households to purchase larger quantities of higher-quality food.
Punjab, Kerala, Goa, Sikkim, and a cluster of Northeastern states bordering Myanmar’s border have made the most progress in overcoming sustainability challenges relating to food production and hunger.
States’ SDG index scores for Goal 2 range from 19 to 80, while UTs’ SDG index scores range from 27 to 97. Kerala and Chandigarh, respectively, is the best-performing state and UT. In the category of Front Runners, seven states and four UTs earned a spot (score range between 65 and 9. In the Aspirants category, however, eleven states and two UTs dropped behind (with index scores less than 50).
Goal 3: Good health and well being
The third sustainable development goal, ensuring good health and well-being, begins with lowering maternal, neonatal, and under-5 death rates. It entails eradicating major communicable and neglected tropical illnesses epidemics, as well as drastically lowering the incidence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
It also encompasses substance addiction prevention, road deaths and injuries, and deaths due to air and water pollution and poor hygiene. Countries must attain universal health coverage, which includes access to reproductive health care, inexpensive medicine, and immunizations, in order to develop a system that can accomplish all of this. Increased health financing, recruitment, and training increased ODA to the health sector, and the implementation of health risk reduction and management techniques are all ways to achieve this. Five national-level indicators have been identified to monitor India’s progress toward Goal 3 of Good Health and Well-Being, which capture four of the 13 SDG targets for 2030.
The five indicators are –
(i) Maternity Mortality Rate;
(ii) Under-five Mortality Rate;
(iii) Immunization coverage in children;
(iv) Tuberculosis incidence; and
(v) Health workforce.
India now has a life expectancy of 68.8 years, which is comparable to that of many developed countries. High rates of maternal and infant mortality are a severe drag on life expectancy. India has a neonatal mortality rate of 21.7 per 1000 live births and a child mortality rate of 28.3 deaths per 1000 live births, both of which are somewhat higher than the national targets established by the SDGs.
In India, nearly 5.8 million people die from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes and respiratory disease every year or in other words, 1 in 4 Indians has a risk of dying from an NCD before they reach the age of 70, and according to World Bank Report, India has the highest road accidents i.e. 4.5 lakh road accidents per annum. India plans to halve each of these rates.
India has been working hard to address all aspects of Goal 3 and develop the country’s health sector. The various initiatives of the Government include The National Health Mission (NHM) – sub-missions – National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) and National Urban Health Mission (NUHM), AYUSHMAN BHARAT – Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojana (PMJAY), Mission Indradhanush, the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP), the National Leprosy Eradication Programme, the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP), the National Mental Health Programme (NMHP), the National Programme for control of blindness, the National Programme for Prevention and control of cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and stroke (NPCDCS), etc.
States’ SDG index scores for Goal 3 range from 59 to 86, while UTs’ SDG index scores range from 68 to 90. Gujarat and Delhi, respectively, are the best-performing states and UTs. In the category of Front Runners, twenty-one states and all UTs received a spot (score range between 65 and 99. No state or territory was included in the Aspirants category (with an Index score less than 50).
Goal 4: Quality education
Quality education is a bedrock of long-term development, as it promotes economic growth, social mobility, and community cooperation. Despite this, many countries continue to struggle to offer students free and quality primary and secondary education, a problem that SDG 4 attempts to address. Quality education entails equal access to all stages of education for all genders, aptitude levels, and social groups, as well as high levels of unified literacy and numeracy proficiency. It also involves ensuring that kids and adults have the essential skills and competencies to compete in the labour market, which extends beyond childhood. Finally, good education makes students better citizens.
With a net primary enrolment rate of 96.82% percent and a secondary completion rate of 83.22%, India has made significant progress in making education accessible to children. However, Indian schools continue to fall short in terms of educational quality.
The lack of quality can be explained in part by the environment of classrooms, where just 81.2 percent of teachers have completed the needed training. Classroom overcrowding is also an issue, with just 70.4 percent of primary and secondary schools having a pupil-to-teacher ratio of less than 30.
The Indian government recognises the difficulties that the country’s education sector faces and has devised innovative programmes to address the many demands and issues. Samagra Shiksha, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA), and Teacher Education (TE) are some of the programmes. Shala Kosh, and Shaala Saarthi are some of the digital efforts that are assisting to promote technology in the education sector.
States’ SDG index scores for Goal 4 range from 29 to 80, while UTs’ SDG index scores range from 49 to 79. Kerala and Chandigarh, respectively, are the best-performing states and UTs. In the category of Front Runners, five states and three UTs earned a spot (score range between 65 and 99). In the Aspirants category, however, nine states and two UTs dropped behind (with Index scores less than 50).
Goal 5: Gender equality
Six national-level indicators have been identified to monitor India’s progress toward the goal of gender equality, which captures four of the nine SDG targets for 2030.
The six indicators are as follows:
(i) Sex ratio at birth;
(ii) Wage gap (male/ female);
(iii) Domestic violence;
(iv) Women in leadership;
(v) Ratio of female labour force participation rate; and
(vi) Family planning.
India has mostly failed to fulfil its own national targets for gender equality to this point and does not look to be on track to do so by 2030 without significant social reforms. Discrimination begins at birth when practices like sex-selective abortion and infanticide contribute to widening gender gaps.
With states like Kerala and Odisha having natural female birth rates of 959 and 948 per 1000 boys, respectively, India as a whole has a six-percentage-point disparity between the number of girls and boys born. In Haryana, there are only 831 girls born and registered for every 1000 males, resulting in a ten-percentage-point gender gap. Gujarat, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh aren’t far behind, with 854, 878, 889, 861, and 879 girls born and registered per 1000 boys, respectively. Domestic life and the labour market are both affected by systemic prejudice.
Domestic violence is common once women are mature enough to have a partner, with 30.9 percent of ever-partnered or married women reporting partner violence in the previous 12 months. Early marriage, especially in rural regions, stymies efforts to provide education to girls and lowers the workforce participation rate.
India is committed to attaining gender equality in all sectors of life, both constitutionally and via its policies. Gender Budgeting, the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao campaign, the Janani Suraksha Yojana, One Stop scheme, the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY), and other national-level plans and programmes have all been introduced to help India achieve this goal.
States’ SDG index scores for Goal 5 range from 25 to 64, whereas UTs’ SDG index scores range from 33 to 68. The top performances among the States and UTs are Chhattisgarh and the Andaman & Nicobar Islands, respectively. In the category of Front Runners, no state received a spot (score range between 65 and 99). Two UTs (Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Puducherry) qualified for the Front Runners category. In the Aspirants category, fourteen states and three UTs trailed behind (with Index scores less than 50).
Goal 6: Clean water and sanitation
People are healthier and more productive when they have access to clean water and sanitation. Water shortage, poor water quality, and poor water hygiene have a severe influence on low-income households’ food security, livelihood options, and educational possibilities around the world. SDG 6 assures that everyone has access to clean water and sanitation, and it represents the fact that it is receiving more attention in the global political arena.
The 2030 Agenda emphasises that the sustainable management of freshwater resources and ecosystems is critical to social development and economic growth. Between 2002 and 2016, groundwater in India was depleted at a rate of 10-25 millimeters per year. The average rainfall decreased from 1,050 mm in the 1970 Kharif — summer cropping–season to less than 1,000 mm in the 2015 Kharif. With nearly 600 million Indians experiencing high-to-extreme water stress–where more than 40% of available surface water is used annually–and about 200,000 people dying each year due to insufficient access to safe water, the situation is likely to worsen by 2050, when water demand will outstrip supply.
Through the Swachh Bharat (Clean India) initiative, clean water and sanitation have become conspicuous causes for the national government. Several major states, including Rajasthan, Punjab, Maharashtra, Kerala, and Gujarat, have mandated the building of individual household toilets in rural regions, according to the NITI Aayog. Although the problem of open defecation remains unaddressed, with only 1.7 % of villages found to have community toilets; education and investment have resulted in a significant improvement in just the last five years. Improved sanitation has also aided in the improvement of the safety of drinking water sources.
States’ SDG index scores for Goal 6 range from 54 to 100, whereas UTs’ SDG index scores range from 61 to 100. With a score of 100, Goa and Lakshadweep are the highest performers among the States and UTs, respectively. In the category of Front Runners, twenty-five states and six UTs were selected. Two States and one UT belonged in the Performers category, despite the fact that no State/UT was behind in the Aspirants category.
Goal 7: Affordable and clean energy
Energy plays a key role in fuelling the engine of growth, and its importance in the evolution of society cannot be overstated. It is at the heart of practically every important global dilemma and opportunity that has anything to do with launching a business, expanding food production, or improving incomes. Sustainable energy is a chance to change people’s lives, economies, and the environment. SDG 7 strives to improve energy efficiency, expand renewable energy use, and promote modern, sustainable energy for all.
India has made significant efforts in developing the electrical system throughout the country, with 96.7 percent of the population now having access to electricity. Despite India’s enormous renewable energy resources, the country’s energy system is still based on fossil fuels and is highly carbon-intensive, producing 1.6 million tonnes of CO2/tonne of electricity. A very small fraction of the population has access to clean fuels for activities such as heating and cooking in their homes, demonstrating that the difficulty of decoupling energy production from carbon is not restricted to the power grid.
India aspires to fulfill the dual goals of affordable and clean energy by ensuring that everyone has access to electricity at a reasonable cost. The National Electricity Plan and the National Energy Policy are already in existence. The Government of India has also launched various schemes such as the National Solar Mission, Dedicated Green Energy Corridor, the Off-Grid and Decentralized Solar PV Applications Programme, and the National Biogas and Manure Management Programme.
For Goal 7, the SDG index score ranges from 50 to 100 for States and 71 to 100 for UTs. Fifteen states and five UTs have been placed in the Achievers category (with an Index score of 100), while twelve states and three UTs have been placed in the Front Runners category (score range between 65 and 99).
Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth
SDG 8 aspires to promote long-term economic growth by increasing productivity and promoting technological innovation. Promoting policies that foster entrepreneurship and job development, as well as effective efforts to eliminate forced labour, slavery, and human trafficking, are critical to achieving this goal.
By 2030, the goal is to achieve full and productive employment as well as decent work for all women and men, as well as to minimise informal employment and the gender wage gap, and to promote a safe and secure working environment for both men and women.
By the year 2030, India hopes that every citizen, male or female, including people with disabilities, would have a respectable job that contributes to the country’s GDP. To achieve this goal, the government has launched a number of initiatives aimed at increasing job opportunities, improving skill development, and speeding economic growth for the general public. Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP), Start-up India, Skill India, Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana, and others are some of the programmes.
States’ SDG index scores for Goal 8 range from 36 to 78, while UTs’ SDG index scores range from 47 to 70. Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh, respectively, are the best-performing States and UTs. In the category of Front Runners, seven states and three UTs earned a spot (score range between 65 and 99). Three states and one UT, on the other hand, trailed in the Aspirants group (with Index scores less than 50).
Goal 9: Industry, innovation, and infrastructure
Among numerous targets, SDG 9 aims to construct quality, reliable, sustainable, and resilient infrastructure, support economic development and human well-being, and facilitate sustainable and resilient infrastructure development with an emphasis on affordable and equitable access for everyone. Infrastructure investment in areas such as transportation, irrigation, electricity, and others is critical for many countries’ long-term prosperity.
Industrial growth has been a critical phase in the economic development of all countries that have achieved high-income status thus far. While India is an outlier in terms of its reliance on the services sector for development, a resilient, sustainable, and inclusive industrial sector, and infrastructure network can nonetheless contribute to the creation of quality jobs and the equitable distribution of economic gains.
In terms of digital and communications infrastructure, the country’s urbanised areas already have astonishingly high levels of teledensity. With 247 mobile subscribers per 100 people, Delhi tops the country, while Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Punjab, and Tamil Nadu have all reached 100% teledensity.
In remote rural areas, the Indian government has made substantial efforts to build both physical and digital infrastructure. For example, the government committed to connecting all selected, isolated habitations to all-weather roads through the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, whose third phase was approved in July 2019. The initiative, which entails a 125,000-kilometer road construction investment, aims to connect targeted areas not only to transportation, but also to agricultural markets, higher secondary schools, hospitals, and other institutions that are necessary to foster an environment of innovative, inclusive growth.
States’ SDG index scores for Goal 9 range from 24 to 72, while UTs’ SDG index scores range from 23 to 66. Gujarat and Delhi, respectively, are the best-performing states and UTs. Six states and one university received a spot in the Front Runners category (score range between 65 and 99). In the Aspirants category, however, fourteen states and six UTs lagged (with Index scores less than 50).
Goal 10: Reduced inequalities
Inequalities in income and wealth are substantial, and they are expanding over the world. SDG 10 strives to minimise income disparities within and between nations based on age, gender, disability, religion, and economic or other status. Inequality is not only a roadblock to progress; it also deprives individuals of opportunity and, as a result, contributes to extreme poverty.
The SDGs principally call for the growth rate of the poorest 40% of the population to match or exceed the national average per capita growth rate when it comes to addressing economic inequities. According to self-reported inequality data from the NITI Aayog, which looks at rural and urban areas separately, India appears to be evenly distributing economic gains across social strata. The Palma Ratio, which divides the GNI share of the wealthiest 10% of the population by that of the lowest 40%, yields a ratio of 1.41 in urban areas and.92 in rural areas, according to the NITI Aayog. While investments in lowering inequality should be made in metropolitan regions, rural areas already meet the government’s objective level of economic equality.
In Indian society, economic disparity is not the only type of exclusion. While women’s labour force exclusion is a concern, India’s large transgender population is similarly underrepresented in the labour force, participating at just 64% of men’s rates and disproportionately in low-wage, dangerous jobs. India’s labour laws do provide certain protections for workers, but only for a narrowly defined part of the formal workforce, implying that wage protection rules may increase rather than reduce inequality.
The government has a number of programmes targeted at eliminating inequalities, some directly and some indirectly. The Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY), Prime Minister Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP), Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana (DDUGKY), Stand-Up India Scheme, and others are among them.
States’ SDG index scores for Goal 10 range from 41 to 88, while UTs’ SDG index scores range from 62 to 100. Meghalaya (Achiever, with an Index score of 100) and Chandigarh (Achiever, with an Index score of 100) are the best-performing States and UTs, respectively. In the category of Front Runners, twenty states and six UTs were selected (score range between 65 and 99). Four states, on the other hand, trailed in the Aspirants group (with Index scores less than 50).
Goal 11: Sustainable cities and communities
New jobs and possibilities have been created as a result of urbanisation, as well as led to a reduction in poverty. Cities play an important role in the development of nations because they provide opportunities for people to grow economically and socially. By improving resource utilisation and focusing on lowering pollution and poverty, urban spaces can address the constraints of rapid urbanisation, including requirements to provide basic services, electricity, and housing while concurrently reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
By 2050, 68% of the world’s population would be living in urban areas. As a result, ensuring that cities are sustainable entails ensuring that a large and rapidly rising part of the population can benefit from living in such an environment. Rather than relegating the marginalised to slums and informal settlements, sustainable cities provide safe and affordable housing to everybody. The health, wellness, and sustainability of India’s cities are still threatened by a lack of cooperation within city governments, between city governments and state governments, and between state governments.
India’s urban areas have an average yearly PM 2.5 level of 90.9 g/m3, while in Delhi, it is 150 mg/m3, which is significantly beyond the World Health Organization’s recommended range. Although cities like Ahmedabad have led the way in establishing new land management and urban planning strategies, piecemeal land management on the urban-rural periphery also contributes to high levels of urban sprawl. Furthermore, poorer regions of Indian cities continue to be devoid of open, secure public places, notably green space.
The national government created the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana initiative in direct reaction to India’s limited affordable urban housing stock to satisfy demand resulting from this wave of rural-urban migration that is fueling the growth of slums.
States’ SDG index scores for Goal 11 range from 39 to 91, while UTs’ SDG index scores range from 56 to 98. Punjab and Chandigarh, respectively, are the best-performing States and UTs. In the category of Front Runners, twenty-two states and five UTs were selected (score range between 65 and 99). Three states, however, trailed in the Aspirants category (with Index scores less than 50).
Goal 12: Responsible consumption and production
SDG 12 strives to guarantee that consumption and production patterns are responsible. Responsible consumption can be defined as the use of services and related products that respond to necessities and improve quality of life while reducing the use of natural resources and toxic materials, as well as the emission of waste and pollutants over the life cycle of the service or product so as not to jeopardise the needs of the future generation
By 2030, countries must develop strategies to manage and utilise all-natural resources sustainably and efficiently, according to SDG 12. This encompasses chemical and e-waste environmental management, business sustainability reporting, and the elimination of market inefficiencies that increase harmful resource usage, such as fossil fuel subsidies.
It also entails encouraging sustainable public procurement processes and providing foreign assistance to developing countries in order to help them strengthen their technological capability for sustainable production and consumption. This goal aims to reduce the material consumption per capita of both developed and developing countries.
To this point, India’s per-capita resource consumption has remained low, owing to the country’s high population density and low material prosperity. Only 2.4 kilograms of e-waste is produced per capita each year, along with 6.2 kg of sulfur dioxide (one of the principal consequences of coal combustion) and 12.9 kg of nitrogen surplus from fertilizer and other industrial operations. India’s trash generation rate is very low in comparison to the developed countries, with only 300 grams of non-recyclable waste created per inhabitant on a daily basis.
In some ways, enhancing responsible consumption and production patterns can only be addressed at the institutional level, where recycling laws can be enforced, municipal waste collection can be expanded, and partnerships between economic actors and secondary markets for used goods and resources can be formed. However, by incorporating sustainable development into national education curricula and mainstreaming sustainability into public debates, tremendous progress can still be done. In this regard, India has taken the lead.
Supreme Court order made environmental education a core requirement in primary, secondary, and higher education, and while many schools are still working on developing a successful sustainability curriculum, some initiatives have already gained acclaim and renown, with track records showing the ability to scale up smoothly at the national level. India, the world’s second-most populous country, has around 17.5 percent of the world’s people yet only 2.4 percent of the world’s land area. This necessitates the development of a comprehensive legislative framework targeted at improving resource efficiency, reducing waste and polluting activities, and promoting the deployment of renewable-energy-focused technology.
States’ SDG index scores for Goal 12 range from 47 to 99, while UTs’ SDG index scores range from 50 to 95. Tripura and Ladakh, as well as Jammu & Kashmir, are the best-performing states and union territories, respectively. In the category of Front Runners, twenty-three states and five UTs were selected (score range between 65 and 99). Goa, on the other hand, lagged in the Aspirants category (with Index scores less than 50).
Goal 13: Climate action
The goal of SDG 13 is to take immediate action to fight climate change and its consequences. The world is facing rising sea levels, harsh weather conditions, and growing greenhouse gas concentrations, all of which are endangering the lives of all people, particularly those living in coastal areas. With the rising greenhouse gas emissions, bold plans and rapid action on climate change mitigation and adaptation, including access to money and increased capacities, are required.
Goal 13 focuses on increasing resilience and adaptability to climate-related hazards, as well as incorporating such measures into national policies. It concentrates on both early warning and impact mitigation. It underlines the importance of international cooperation and commitment in this regard.
India is following its SDG commitment to climate change, which focuses on making countries responsible for their Paris climate targets. According to the Climate Action Tracker, the country produces an average of 1.9 tonnes of CO2 per capita from energy production, which is low compared to China and the US but high compared to the world’s least developed countries and is on track to exceed its Paris target by 2030. India, which accounts for 6.9% of global carbon emissions, has pledged to cut its GDP-based emissions intensity by 33-35 percent by 2030. As of 2018, investments in solar energy have surpassed those in coal, and the government has made a big effort to increase the usage of CNG and electric vehicles in the transportation sector.
With eight sub-missions, India’s National Action Plan for Climate Change (NAPCC) is a programme to prevent and adapt to the negative effects of climate change. The strategy attempts to achieve India’s developmental goals, with a focus on lowering the economy’s emission intensity. Government initiatives to build disaster-resilient societies have resulted in a significant reduction in the number of people killed or injured in disasters over time. India met its pre-2020 emission intensity reduction objective and is now working on its post-2020 targets.
States’ SDG index scores for Goal 13 range from 16 to 70, while UTs’ SDG index scores range from 18 to 77. Odisha and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, respectively, are the best-performing States and UTs. In the category of Front Runners, six states and three UTs earned a spot (score range between 65 and 99). Ten states and two UTs, on the other hand, trailed in the Aspirants group (with Index scores less than 50).
Goal 14: Life below water
Rivers, lakes, seas, and oceans encompass more than 70% of the earth’s surface and play an important part in life support. The temperature, chemistry, currents, and life of the world’s seas govern global processes that keep the planet habitable for humans. Goal 14 commits governments to conserve and use oceans, seas, and marine resources in a sustainable manner. It focuses on reducing marine pollution, ending illegal and damaging fishing activities, and managing and safeguarding marine and coastal ecosystems in a sustainable manner, all while expanding scientific knowledge, research, and technology transfer to improve marine health.
The development of India has had a substantial negative influence on the health of the country’s oceans and waterways. India’s Exclusive Economic Zone has a 58 out of 100 Ocean Health Index, based on ten distinct parameters, putting it in 191st place out of 221 countries and dependencies.
The management and conservation of the coastal and marine environment are governed by a number of national and subnational laws. India has also ratified a number of international conventions concerning the use of seas and their resources, notably the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. The Online Oil Spill Advisory System, an online tool for anticipating the path of oil spills, was established in 2015. Furthermore, the 2015 National Oil Spill Disaster Contingency Plan has been updated to incorporate significant national rules as well as current international norms. Furthermore, the government uses the Coastal Ocean Monitoring and Prediction System to monitor levels of marine pollution at several points throughout the country’s coastline. India is also constructing a Marine Observation System along its coastline in order to better understand coastal processes and monitor water quality.
The nine coastal states’ SDG index scores for goal 14 range from 11 to 82. Orissa and Andhra Pradesh fall into the Front Runner category (scores ranging from 65 to 99, including both), whereas Tamil Nadu is classified as an Aspirant (score less than 50). The remaining six coastal states are categorized as Performers. (Score range of 50 to 64.)
Goal 15: Life on land
The goal is to maintain, restore, and promote the sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, as well as sustainable forest management, combating desertification, and halting and reversing land degradation, while also incorporating ecosystems and biodiversity into national and municipal planning. It also aims to encourage the fair and equal distribution of the benefits derived from the use of genetic resources, as well as to prevent poaching and trafficking of protected flora and wildlife. In other ways, India has made significant headway in protecting and rehabilitating natural regions.
India’s development trajectory has transformed forests and wild animal habitats into collateral damage as a result of rapid population increase and the spread of agriculture throughout practically the whole subcontinent. Many of India’s most populated states, which were historically significantly lusher and greener, now have very little forest cover. Only 3.53 percent of Haryana, 6.12 percent of Punjab, and 6.88 percent of Uttar Pradesh are covered with forest.
Various initiatives taken by the government under goal 15 include the National Environment Policy of 2006 and the National Agroforestry Policy of 2014, the Green Highways Policy of 2015, the National Afforestation Programme, and many more.
States’ SDG index scores for goal 15 range from 43 to 93, while UTs’ SDG index scores range from 27 to 85. Arunachal Pradesh and Chandigarh, respectively, are the best-performing States and UTs. In the category of Front Runners, thirteen states and four UTs were selected (score range between 65 and 99). Four states and one UT, on the other hand, trailed in the Aspirants group (with Index scores less than 50).
Goal 16: Peace, justice, and strong institutions
Sustainable development requires peace, stability, and effective governance based on the rule of law and supporting the ideals of equality, human rights, and justice. The 2030 Agenda aspires to drastically reduce all types of violence while also collaborating with governments and communities to eradicate conflict and insecurity. Promoting the rule of law and human rights, as well as decreasing the flow of illicit armaments and enhancing the participation of developing nations in global governance organisations, are critical components of this process. Goal 16 also focuses on the prevention of abuse, exploitation, human trafficking, corruption, and bribery, as well as the creation of accountable and transparent institutions.
Since the governmental structure and institutions were inherited from British colonisation, India has had a highly decentralised government with the central government lacking the capacity to administer specific responsibilities. However, India has made progress in making its government more efficient and accountable to its population, notably since 2015.
The Aadhaar system, a biometric identification database that provides a centralized mechanism for residents to register with public institutions and make their demands known, has been one of the most significant advancements in enhancing the supply of government services. All citizens must be properly registered with the government in order to participate equally in their public institutions. India has had a long-standing goal of registering all births, which it has accomplished in some states but not in others. Bihar has the lowest birth registration rates in the country, standing at 73.7% percent.
Through transparent and responsible institutions at all levels, India aspires to build an atmosphere of peace, justice, and good governance. India has made a number of steps to meet its goals. India’s citizens are empowered by a powerful framework of rights-based legislation. The Right to Information Act of 2005 allows citizens to request information from public authorities, ensuring that institutions are transparent and accountable.
Goal 17: Partnership for the goals
The final goal is to form partnerships between governments, business organisations, nonprofits, and civil society for sustainable development goals to achieve their full potential. Goal 17 establishes criteria for countries to fully mobilise domestic resources for sustainable development through more taxation and lower debt payment, while also attracting resources from abroad through improved remittance policies, increased ODA and FDI, and investment promotion regimes. On the technological front, it makes use of North-South cooperation to preferentially share the knowledge and materials that poorer countries need to get on their feet, particularly by boosting the usage of ICTs (Information and communication technologies) across national and international markets.
Improving Tax Compliance and Capacity
India has a tax-to-GDP ratio that is much lower than the BRICS average. As a result, there is a lot of room for increasing domestic resources by broadening the tax base and improving the tax administration system. The Indian government has pledged to carry out an ambitious tax reform programme, by including the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and direct tax reforms to boost domestic resource mobilisation, while also pledging to keep public debt at manageable levels in the medium term. The Swachh Bharat Cess (Clean India Cess) is an innovative tax that has been imposed to raise funds for the Clean India Mission.
Strengthening Sub-National Governments
The states and municipal governments in India will be at the forefront of putting the SDG strategy into action. A paradigm change is taking place in the budgetary relationship between the national government and the sub-national governments. The tax devolution to states was enhanced by the Fourteenth Finance Commission from 32% to 42% of the divisible pool. Furthermore, special purpose grants for universal primary education, health, employment, affordable housing, and urbanisation create a strong collaborative fiduciary foundation for achieving the SDGs.
Technology Facilitation Mechanism (TFM) for SDGs
TFM is a new mechanism established by the Addis Ababa Action Agenda for making technologies available to developing nations for the implementation of the SDGs. India has made it clear in its submissions that developing, deploying, disseminating, and transferring technology to developing nations demands immediate action. This involves a continuous focus by all countries on improving enabling environments, simplifying access to technology, and leveraging private sector resources for finance.
India’s challenges in achieving the SDGs
Developing appropriate metrics to adequately monitor the development of the SDGs is one of India’s biggest difficulties. India’s track record reveals that it has struggled to establish useful indicators for measuring outcomes. The availability of hand pumps and tube wells has muddled the definition of “safe” drinking water, and official figures claimed that 86 percent of Indians had access to safe drinking water, putting them ‘on track’ to meet the MDG objective on drinking water. In India, however, the number of waterborne infections and diarrhea-related mortality is relatively significant.
India has the biggest number of people living below the international poverty line, despite its best attempts to eradicate poverty. According to the World Bank estimate from 2013, 30 percent of the population lived on less than $1.90 per day. Despite rapid economic growth, one-third of the world’s 1.2 billion extremely poor lived in India alone in 2010, according to the United Nations MDG 2014 report. At today’s levels of public and private investment in SDG-related industries in poor countries, a $2.5 trillion yearly financing gap remains between 2015 and 2030. Only greater private sector investments, particularly in infrastructure, food security, and climate change mitigation, can close this gap. India is a country where according to a new analysis, achieving the SDGs in India by 2030 will cost roughly $14.4 billion.
India has shown its strong commitment to the global goals in the last several years, after the SDGs were adopted in September 2015. India’s dedication is shown in its efforts to electrify rural families, ensure that girls attend school and stay in school, offer sanitation and housing for all, equip young people with the skills they need to compete in the global labour market, and more. India has also made significant progress in the use of data for effective policymaking and monitoring scheme progress against the targets.
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