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India’s position in Sustainable Development Report: a cause of concern

Published: 13th Jun, 2022


  • Key highlights of the report 2022
  • Cause for such performance of India
  • Challenges
  • What can be done further?


India’s rank in the global Sustainable Development Report, 2022 has slipped for the third consecutive year. 

  • The country continues to face major challenges in achieving 11 of the 17 SDGs, which has pushed down its global ranking on SDG preparedness.


  • In September 2000, the United Nations-mandated that all of its members adhere to a Millennium Development Goal, which consisted of a set of eight time-bound goals that were to be met within a fifteen-year period
  • In 2015, the UN received a final report confirming the beneficial impact of the Millennium Development Goal.
  • Once the MDG's 15-year target was met, the responsibility for development was transferred to the Sustainable Development Goal's 17 targets.
  • The Sustainable Development Goals are a series of seventeen pointer targets that all UN members have pledged to work on in order to improve the country's future.
  • "Future We Want," a documentary played at the Rio+20 meeting, proposed a post-2015 development agenda.
  • The Rio+20 summit (2012) in Rio de Janeiro produced the SDGs, which are non-binding document.
  • The United Nations Sustainable Development Summit established a post-negotiation agenda named "Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development."


What is Sustainable Development means?

  • “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."
  • The main features of sustainable development include
  • Increase in per capita income
  • Judicious use of natural resources
  • Preserving the resources for future generations

What are the key Highlights of the report?

  • In the 2022 Global Index of SDGs, the country ranked 121 out of the 163 countries. It had ranked 117 in 2020 and 120 in 2021. 
  • The progress in around 10 of these goals is similar to those in 2021. These include SDG 2 on ending hunger, SDG 3 on good health and well-being and SDG 6 on clean water and sanitation. 
  • But ensuring decent work (SDG 8) has become more challenging.
  • India is on track to achieving SDG 13 on climate action.
  • The decline in India’s overall performance is primarily due to eight statesBihar, Telangana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and Jharkhand, whose scores have dipped under SDG 13 in the two years.

How are states and UTs ranked?

The SDG India Index scores range between 0–100, higher the score of a State/UT, the greater the distance to target achieved.

States and UTs are classified in four categories based on Index score:

  1. Aspirant: 0–49
  2. Performer: 50–64
  3. Front-runner: 65–99
  4. Achiever: 100

What are the challenges for India?

  • Tackling Climate issues: In India, factors like rapid growth of population, urbanization, industrialization, and poverty, among others are responsible for harming the environment. Some of the severe environmental issues prevalent in India are;
    • Degrading Air Quality Index
    • Rampant Environmental Degradation
    • Loss of Biodiversity
    • Urbanization in the Himalayas
    • Loss of Resilience in Ecosystems
    • Lack of Waste Management
    • Depletion of Resources (land, air, water)
    • Growing Water Scarcity
  • Defining the Key Indicators: One of the major challenges for India is to devise suitable indicators to effectively assess the progress of SDGs.
    • The key definitions for areas, such as poverty, hunger, safe drinking water, education need to be revised in order to effectively implement the SDGs.
  • Financing Sustainable Development Goals: Despite India’s best efforts and making poverty alleviation a priority since the Fourth 5-year Plan, India has the highest number of people living below the poverty line.
    • At today’s level of investment, there is a huge funding shortfall that hinders the progress of attaining SDGs.
  • Monitoring & Ownership of Implementation Process: Although NITI Aayog is expected to play an important role in taking ownership of the implementation process, the members of the Aayog have expressed their concerns time and again about the limited manpower they have to handle such a tedious task.
  • Measuring the Progress: The government of India has admitted the non-availability of data, especially from the sub-national areas.
    • Incomplete coverage of administrative data is yet another factor that has hampered the measurement of progress for even the Millennial Development Goals (MDGs) that were the precursor to SDGs.

Measures taken by India to achieve SDG

  • NITI Aayog is entrusted with the task of coordinating SDGs in India.
  • States are also advised to undertake similar mapping, including visioning, planning, budgeting, and developing implementation & monitoring systems for the state-sponsored schemes that are being implemented to fulfill the SDGs.
  • In addition to that, the Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation is engaged in the process of building key indicators to monitor the implementation of SDGs.
  • Since 2015 (when the United Nations, along with other countries, adopted the SDGs) the Indian government has launched several flagship programs that are at the heart of SDGs. Some of these include Swachh Bharat Mission, Skill India, Make in India, Digital India, etc.


Sustainability is often thought of as a long-term goal (i.e. a more sustainable world), while sustainable development has many processes and pathways to achieve it (e.g. sustainable agriculture and forestry, sustainable production and consumption, good government, research and technology transfer, education and training, etc.). Hence we should give efforts on building our states to achieve SDGs by proper governmental and community participation, which will be beneficial for country’s development as a whole.

Practice Question

Q1. “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need but not any man's greed.” In the context of this statement, discuss need to embrace austerity for sustainable development.

Q2. Discuss in what way the COVID-19 pandemic presents a chance to make systemic changes for sustainable development in the country.

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