Jamaican Economy Panel endorses continued relevance of the Sustainable Development Goals
24 June 2021
Today, the Jamaican Economy Panel (JEP) published the third round of its monthly discussion focusing on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The Jamaican Economy Panel is part of a partnership between the United Nations Resident Coordinator’s Office (UNRCO) and the Department of Economics at The University of the West Indies (UWI) Mona. The JEP brings together a select group of economic and public sector experts to address monthly socio-economic questions. These questions help to highlight relevant economic issues and the collective expertise of the panelists.
Sustainable Development Goals
Primarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic, progress towards the SDGs has stalled. According to the Sustainable Development Report published on 14 June 2021*, a reversion in progress is evident for the first time since the report’s launch; this comes even though much of the relevant data does not yet entail 2020 results due to lags common to international data collection.
In 2021, even the most advanced country (Finland) was only 86% of the way to achieve the SDGs. Despite this result, the members of the JEP fully endorse the continued relevance of the SDGs, with 88% of respondents believing that countries should pursue the SDGs. However, the panelists also acknowledged that due to the pandemic, the timelines might be more complicated.
Dr. Nadine McCloud, head of the Economics Department at UWI Mona and co-founder of the JEP, adds that “While some of the Goals may not be achievable, the majority continues to be relevant to each country, particularly during this pandemic. Moreover, the interlinkages between them mean that a coordinated approach may be more useful than only pursuing individual objectives. Countries must act with dispatch to meet, at a minimum, a significant fraction of the SDGs. Yet, the absence of equitable global vaccine distribution isn’t innocuous; it impedes any coordinated effort towards positive, sustainable development outcomes.”
With 17 SDGs and 231 underlying indicators, the panelists considered whether they could rank the different Goals by immediate priority. From the results, it became clear that the panelists viewed People-centered Goals as the highest priority, with 63% of respondents putting those as their top priority. The People-centered SDGs are those focused on poverty (SDG 1), hunger (SDG 2), health (SDG 3), education (SDG 4), gender equality (SDG 5) and access to sanitation (SDG 6), aspects that the pandemic has significantly impacted.
Finally, the panelists entertained questions about the impediments to achieving the SDGs. On the one hand, there was much agreement that the primary impediments are a lack of fiscal space (88% of respondents) and COVID-related challenges (57%). On the other hand, the setbacks in socio-economic development due to the pandemic make pursuing the SDGs even more critical than before.
Responding to the survey results, Dr. Garry Conille, United Nations Resident Coordinator, stated, “The Sustainable Development Goals are the key to achieving equitable and inclusive socio-economic development throughout the world. There are only nine years left in the current Decade of Action, which highlights the need for countries to come together and cooperate to make sure that nobody gets left behind and that all people in all countries are enabled to achieve their full potential.”
The United Nations in the Caribbean is currently working on a Multi-Country Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework for the Caribbean for 2022-2026 to put the SDGs at the center of socio-economic development in the region.
The full results of this month’s discussion are available HERE.