US States Falling Short of their Sustainable Development Goals

The United Nations highlights that no state is on track to meet sustainable development targets by 2030, and the states that are lagging behind are primarily in the South.

The findings of the United States branch of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, a United Nations project inaugurated in 2012, show that the country is struggling to achieve a “holistic picture of wellbeing.”

States are less than halfway to meeting their goals on average, with only 16 states scoring more than 50, indicating that they are more than halfway to attaining their targets. The majority of the states that are falling behind are in the South. Mississippi, West Virginia, Louisiana, and Arkansas, which are at the bottom of the list, are less than a third of the way to fulfilling the 17 goals. Only three states, Delaware, Maine, and Massachusetts, have at least one goal on track to be met.

The United States is undeniably marked by significant geographical disparities. These manifest themselves politically, in the structure of economies, and in the performance of sustainable development, which refers to the state’s economic, social, and environmental situations.

Vermont is making the most progress among states, with a score of little over 60. Many of the other high-scoring states are in the Northeast or Pacific Northwest, with Massachusetts, Washington, Minnesota, and Maine completing the top five. New England and the Northeast, are leading the country in a variety of categories, including education and having “real intention” in terms of green energy. When it comes to sustainability, the latter is an area where the South is struggling.

There is a lot more oil and coal dependency in the South, and there has been a long-standing resistance to the energy change that we need, which is happening all around the world. Despite the fact that the climate crisis is wreaking havoc on the South, this is the case.

Even the states that are doing quite well aren’t quite there yet. All states have at least one target and 20% of their indicators are trending in the wrong direction. States would need to increase their scores by around 5.5 points each year to meet the goals by 2030, which is higher than the average improvement over the previous five years combined. The gradual progress reflects the very real hunger, violence, disenfranchisement, and instability that individuals in the United States endure on a daily basis.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has “increased challenges” for governments to meet their targets, the findings are nonetheless a “sobering reminder” that none of them were on track even before the health catastrophe.