The following address was given by Sir Peter Gluckman in August 2018 to the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAF) in Pretoria.
The 2030 agenda is encapsulated within the 17 SDGs and their 169 targets. This agenda has been criticized as being too broad to be meaningful and too aspirational rather than having the concrete, focused and very specific nature of their predecessor MDGs. We are almost halfway through the 20 year period for which they were framed – there is only another 11 years to 2030 – and there is a general sense that momentum is not being sustained at a desirable pace. Geopolitical issues have shifted much of the global agenda away from the fundamentals that led to their establishment in the first place. But we are seeing some signs of growing focus ahead on the high-level review that is scheduled for next year – some countries such as Japan have a domestic SDG agenda and the SDG focus is intensifying in some countries’ ODA agendas and that is flowing through to the research.