World leaders warn goals to fight hunger, poverty, climate change in peril

Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Summit at United Nations headquarters in New York

By Daphne Psaledakis

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - World leaders meeting at the United Nations on Monday warned of the peril the world faces unless it acts with urgency to rescue a set of 2030 development goals to wipe out hunger and extreme poverty and to battle climate change.

Their declaration, adopted by consensus at a summit before the annual U.N. General Assembly, embraces a 2015 "to-do" list of 17 Sustainable Development Goals that also include water, energy, reducing inequality and achieving gender equality.

"The achievement of the SDGs is in peril," the declaration reads. "We are alarmed that the progress on most of the SDGs is either moving much too slowly or has regressed below the 2015 baseline."

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the summit of leaders that only 15% of the targets are on track and that many are going in reverse.

Earlier this month, Guterres called on G20 leaders to ensure a stimulus of at least $500 billion per year towards meeting the goals. He called on countries to act now.

The leaders are meeting in the shadow of geopolitical tensions - largely fueled by the war in Ukraine - as Russia and China vie with the United States and Europe to win over developing countries, where achieving the Sustainable Development Goals are key.

"Instead of leaving no one behind, we risk leaving the SDGs behind ... the SDGs need a global rescue plan," Guterres told the summit.

The U.N. said this month that there are 745 million more moderately to severely hungry people in the world today than in 2015, and the world is far off track in its efforts to meet the ambitious United Nations goal to end hunger by 2030.

The cost of meeting global targets rose 25% to $176 trillion during the year that ended in September 2022, with performance on several measures reversing, a report said last year.

(Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis; Editing by Michelle Nichols and Howard Goller)