Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the Dublin University Press
Sri Lanka’s most recent ranking in the Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Index highlights the need to build upon the collective commitment of all stakeholders towards inclusive and sustainable development
Sri Lanka has been placed at 83rd position out of 166 countries in the Global Sustainable Development Report 2023 released yesterday. The Report is compiled by an independent group of experts led by Prof Jeffrey Sachs and published by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the Dublin University Press. With an overall country score of 69.4 in 2023, Sri Lanka's ranking has experienced a slight decline from the overall country score of 70.0 achieved in the previous year. However, the country score still exceeds the regional average of 67.2.
During the assessment period, the country was confronted with unprecedented challenges, both internal and external and the country’s resilience to shocks is embodied in the steady progress the country seems to be making in vital areas such as Quality Education (SDG 04) and Climate Action (SDG 13) where the progress made over the years has been maintained.
Furthermore, in the energy sector, (SDG 07) an overall progress is observed when compared to the previous year with increased access to clean fuel and technology for cooking by the population. Sri Lanka has also witnessed significant improvement in SDG 09 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure) with progress assessed to be "on track" to achieve SDG 09 by 2030. This is primarily due to the increased usage of the internet by 66.7% of the population. The mobile broadband subscriptions per 100 population also stand at an impressive 87%.
These advancements serve as encouraging signs that the nation is moving towards progress despite the economic and other setbacks experienced during the assessment period.
However, there are critical areas that require urgent attention to ensure the development process is both inclusive and sustainable.
Concerning trends highlighted in the Report are -the increase in the Poverty Headcount Ratio, measured by USD 2.15 per day and the rise in the Unemployment Rate (increasing to 7.2 in 2023 from 4.9 in 2022).
Furthermore, Sri Lanka’s Ocean Health Index value has declined to 54.8 in 2023 from 58.3 in 2020, creating challenges for achieving SDG 14. There is also decreasing trend observed in the Red List Index of species survival which measures the aggregate extinction risk across groups of species. This shows that there is an increase in the level of species at risk of extinction.
Major challenges have been highlighted in achieving SDG 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions) due to a drop in Sri Lanka’s Score on the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) and a low rating received for timeliness of administrative proceedings which measures whether administrative proceedings at the national and local level are conducted without unreasonable delay.
The above trends call for targeted policy and other interventions to address the rising levels of poverty and unemployment and efforts to protect and preserve the environment including the oceans.
The Government has initiated ambitious reforms in order to respond to the challenges of limited fiscal space for keeping SDGs at the forefront of the country’s recovery visions and plans. The findings of the Global Sustainable Development Report underscores the importance of remaining focused on implementing the much-needed systemic and structural reforms including public sector reforms to stay on track to achieve the SDGs. Furthermore, SDG considerations need to be brought to the financial system, both public and private through expediting the finalization and adoption of the frameworks and tools that are currently being developed to align all financing options with the SDGs.