Leaders pledge to hasten action on SDGs as UN chief raises alarm

World leaders have agreed to accelerate action to achieve a set of goals for sustainable development. The move came as the UN chief raised alarm that only 15 percent of the targets set in 2015 are on track to be met.

The leaders attended a high-level forum on the Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, at the United Nations in New York on Monday. It was held to coincide with an annual debate at the UN General Assembly.

The leaders agreed on a political declaration, expressing their commitment to accelerating action on all 17 SDGs.

The goals were adopted in 2015 with support from all UN members, with a promise to leave no one behind. The goals include reducing poverty, hunger, and improving healthcare, as well as education -- all to be achieved by 2030.

The meeting was held to mark the halfway point to the deadline. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the gathering that today, only 15 percent of the targets are on track and many are going in reverse.

Guterres highlighted the need for action in six critical areas. They include eliminating starvation, a transition to renewable energy, and ensuring access to education.

The coronavirus pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine have been cited as factors that have hampered efforts to achieve the goals.

Prime Minister Kishida Fumio is due to report how much progress Japan has achieved on the SDGs on the second day of the meeting on Tuesday.