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Inclusive Digitization Presents Largest Gap in Sustainable Development Funding: UN Analysis

In a report released by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), achieving ambitious sustainable development targets will necessitate an annual investment of $5.4 to $6.4 trillion until 2030. This translates to an average of $1,179 to $1,383 per person per year.

The study encompasses 50 Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) indicators across 90 countries, representing 75% of the global population.

Developing economies, comprising 48 nations, face an annual shortfall of $337 billion if they are to take the requisite action against climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution.

When extended to encompass all developing economies, using the median per capita cost for the 48 countries in the study, the total annual requirements surge to between $6.9 trillion and $7.6 trillion. While securing such investment may be formidable for countries with limited resources, the key lies in judiciously allocating funds across intersecting domains, such as education, which concurrently advances gender equality, poverty reduction, and innovation – all crucial SDG targets.

Anu Peltola, head of UNCTAD Statistics, stressed that merely increasing funds doesn’t guarantee success. Governments, companies, investors, and institutions must strategically allocate their resources, ensuring each dollar is optimized.

Analysis by UNCTAD reveals that the world’s wealthiest economies are anticipated to contribute nearly 80% of SDG expenditure from now till 2030. These nations generally face the highest annual per capita costs and the most significant financing gaps.

Small island developing States also confront substantial costs, with estimated spending on gender equality standing at $3,724 per person, nearly three times the global average requirement.

While the least developed countries incur lower costs per capita, the requisite spending as a percentage of each nation’s overall economic output (GDP) is substantial, reaching 47% for education alone.

UNCTAD’s analysis exposes notable shortfalls in national spending trends towards sustainability. The most substantial gap lies in inclusive digitization, necessitating an additional $468 billion annually, equivalent to a 9% increase in annual spending. Conversely, enhancing social protection and creating decent job opportunities require a comparatively smaller investment for the world’s 48 developing economies, totaling $294 billion, which would necessitate a six percent increase in annual spending.

The analysis centers on six transformative paths for sustainable development: social protection and decent jobs, transforming education, food systems, climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution, energy transition, and inclusive digitization. It encompasses indicators ranging from reducing greenhouse gas emissions and expanding protected forest cover to guaranteeing universal access to electricity and the internet, promoting literacy, combating hunger, and reducing mortality.”

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