Sustainable Development Goals: are the rich countries ready?

The world's first comprehensive stocktaking shows that most industrialized nations are a long way from serving as role models for sustainable development. Most industrialized countries in the OECD are not yet ready for the international community's new sustainability pledge. Many are nowhere near achieving the global policy objectives that are to be adopted by the heads of state or government at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit this month. Indeed, there is the danger that the targets for many indicators will be missed entirely. The greatest deficits of the industrialized nations lie in their less-than-sustainable production and consumption behavior. In addition, in many cases their economic systems also exacerbate the trend toward social inequality. This is the result of a comparative study of all 34 OECD states conducted by the Bertelsmann Stiftung on the basis of 34 indicators for the 17 future Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030. The study is the first one worldwide to investigate systematically the present status of each of these countries, both individually and in comparison with one another. This snapshot additionally identifies countries that can serve as role models with regard to particular SDGs, while also pointing out where substantial deficits still exist.