Thursday, October 22, 2020

Botswana barely passes in first SDG Index

The first look at a country-level Sustainable Development Goals Index and SDG Dashboards places Botswana at position 80 out of a total of 149 United Nations member countries. The country scores 58.4, meaning that on average, it is 58.4 percent of the way to the best possible outcome across the 17 SDGs.

While that score may not be all that impressive, Botswana has in fact done remarkably well among other Africa countries, coming third after Morocco (61.6) and Mauritius (60.7). With a score of 84.5, Sweden is ranked number one and in last position is the Central African Republic with a score of 26.1. Mere inclusion in the Index is itself a noteworthy achievement because it means that a country has provided credible statistics. Countries like Cuba, Libya, Guinea Bissau, Seychelles, South Sudan and Somalia are not included in the Index due to insufficient data.

The SDGs define a universal agenda and were adopted in September last year by all member states of the UN to guide international collaboration towards sustainable development. The SDGs aim to end poverty, tackle inequality, protect the planet, promote peace, and ensure prosperity for all. Each goal has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years. The Index ranks countries regarding their initial status on the 17 SDGs – “initial” being data as close to 2015 as available. It allows each country to assess its current state of progress (relative to its income-level and geographic peers) to the SDG targets and to the “best” possible scores on the various indicators.

As the world’s poorest region, Sub Saharan Africa faces nearly across-the-board challenges in meeting the SDGs. The Index says that major challenges remain in ending extreme poverty (SDG 1) and hunger (SDG 2), health (SDG 3), education (SDG 4), and access to basic infrastructure (SDG 9), reducing high inequality (SDG 10) and sustainable urban development (SDG 11). As the third most unequal country in the world after South Africa and Seychelles, Botswana would have done poorly in SDG 10 but very well in SDG 1 because, according to a World Bank study that came out last year, its poverty reduction effort is among the strongest in the world. Botswana would also have done as well in SDG 13 on climate action. In 2014, the country emerged as the 32nd least vulnerable to climate change among 116 nations and the least vulnerable in Africa in the first-ever climate change rankings by Standard & Poor’s credit ratings agency. With serious water shortage in many places across the country, Botswana would have done poorly on SDG 6 – Clean Water and Sanitation.

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