Free Interactive Report
UN SDG Partnerships in the US
Partnerships to achieve the UN SDGs in Context
Largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, communities around the world have experienced economic, social, and environmental setbacks, especially for poverty rates and unemployment. While these impacts are not equally distributed across countries, many challenges, like climate change, have a global reach, and no country will be able to recover and prevent future challenges alone.
For the first time since the adoption of the SDGs in 2015, the global average SDG Index score, which measures progress towards achieving the Global Goals, has decreased from the previous year
Cooperation and partnerships are needed now more than ever, especially surrounding innovative technological development, access to the internet, data, and statistics, and fair trade and market access. Currently:
- Almost half of the world’s population (3.7 billion people) does not have access to the internet.
- While all of the SDG indicators have internationally established methodologies for tracking progress, gaps in official statistics still need to be addressed for SDG 4 (Quality Education), SDG 5 (Gender Equality), SDG 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production), SDG 13 (Climate Action), and SDG 14 (Life Below Water) in particular.
- It’s estimated that an additional $2.5 trillion of funding is needed annually in order to achieve all of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
International Cooperation for the SDGs
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) estimates that to meet the SDGs by 2030, total annual investments in SDG-relevant sectors in developing countries will need to be between $3.3 trillion and $4.5 trillion – meaning there is an annual gap of $2.5 trillion between current funding and what is required.
Mobilizing domestic resources through taxes and private investment are important pieces for financing work related to the SDGs. However, for many countries, foreign aid continues to play a leading role in their economic growth, trade, and achievement of the SDGs.
The US has been the largest aid donor in the world since World War II. 22 government agencies manage foreign assistance from the US, with over 60% managed by The United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
US Official Development Assistance (ODA) Spending*
The US was a founding member of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a committee that provides guidance, coordination, and data on development aid, particularly Official Development Assistance (ODA). ODA is government aid specifically promoting and targeting the economic development and welfare of people living in developing countries (development and humanitarian aid) and does not include any foreign military aid, aid from private sources, or NGOs (it’s estimated that 10 – 15% of total development aid comes from private sources).
SDG 12 specifically calls out the amount of ODA a country donates as an indicator for success towards achieving sustainable development and has set a target of 0.7% of a donor country’s gross domestic income (GNI) to be directed towards ODA funding. Total ODA reached $161 billion in 2020, the first increase in three years. However, this represented just 0.32% of donors’ combined GNI, falling far short of the 0.7% target.
While the US donates the most money, over $30 billion annually (over 20% of total ODA from all DAC members), relative to economic size, the US’ ODA is low, just 0.17%. This ranks the US 24th out of the 30 members of the DAC.
Explore more using our interactive report
This interactive report is continuously updated, and it is free thanks to X4Impact Founding Partners. The report highlights some selected indicators related to foreign aid, capacity building, government spending, private-public partnership, and official development assistance in the US.
You can use the interactive charts to understand partnership for the UN SDG goals-related indicators, as well as exploring by state the list of nonprofits that work on this issue.
In 2020, state and local governments spent approximately $10,000 per capita on a range of programs and services that fall under the SDGs, from police and fire protection services to parks and recreation and education, but this varies widely across states. You can explore more details by state on the map below.
poverty, disaster, &
Progress in the US:
According to the latest Sustainable Development Report (formerly the SDG Index & Dashboards), the US ranks 35th out of 165 countries on sustainable development progress, and is only on track to meet 3 out of the 17 Global Goals by 2030:
- SDG 6 Clean Water & Sanitation
- SDG 9 Industry, Innovation, & Infrastructure
- SDG 11 Sustainable Cities & Communities
3 goals are currently seeing a decline in progress:
- SDG 10 Reduced Inequalities
- SDG 14 Life Below Water
- SDG 15 Life on Land
While the remaining 11 goals have seen little to no change in either direction.
The Economic Impact:
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that meeting the SDG targets in five priority areas of education, health, roads, electricity, and water & sanitation by 2030 will require an additional $528 billion for low- and lower-middle-income countries and $2.1 trillion for emerging countries annually.
The Business and Sustainable Development Commission identified $12 trillion in new market opportunities by 2030, generating nearly 380 million jobs in just four areas —food & agriculture, cities, energy & materials, and health & well-being. An additional $8 trillion of value in areas like information communication technologies, education, and consumer goods could be attained if companies align their business strategies with the SDGs.
Trends are also emerging around social impact companies, tech for good, and environmental, social, and (corporate) governance (ESG) companies being more profitable with less volatility and risk than their more traditional peers.
The United Nations Impact Indicators related to UN SDG 17 Partnerships for the Goals:
The United Nations has defined 19 Targets and 25 Indicators to track progress under Sustainable Development Goal 12. Key indicators related to data and statistics, international development aid, internet access, cross-sector collaboration, and more.
- The total amount of approved funding for developing countries to promote the development, transfer, dissemination, and diffusion of environmentally sound technologies.
- The proportion of people using the Internet.
- The dollar value of financial and technical assistance that is committed to Developing Countries.
- Amount of exports from, and the tariffs faced by developing countries, least developed countries, and small island developing States.
- The amount of money committed to public-private partnerships and civil society partnerships.
- The proportion of sustainable development goal indicators with statistics produced at the national level
Interactive Report Notes:
* ODA is government aid that specifically promotes and targets the economic development and welfare of people living in developing countries (development and humanitarian aid), and does not include any foreign military aid, aid from private sources, or NGOs.
** Only organizations with a valid website URL are shown in this table.
- US Official Development Assistance (ODA): The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Aid (ODA) by sector and donor 2019.
- State and local government spending: US Census Annual Survey of State and Local Government Finances, and State Population Estimates, 2019.
- World Economic Forum – Coronavirus has exposed the digital divide like never before
- Sustainable Development Report – Executive Summary
- OECD – Insights from the Data for Development Profiles of DAC members
- OECD – Development Finance Data FAQs
- OECD – Development Co-operation Profiles USA
- SDG Tracker – SDG 17
- Global Goals – SDG 17
- UN SDGs – SDG 17
- UN STATS – Goal 17
- OECD – The 0.7% ODA/GNI target – a history
- World Investment Report – Investing In The SDGs
- Brookings Institution – US global leadership through an SDG lens
- International Finance Corporation – Closing the SDG Financing Gap—Trends and Data
- Urban Institute – State and Local Expenditures
- US Census – Annual State and Local Government Finances Summary: 2019
- OECD – Official development assistance – definition and coverage
- UN Principles for Responsible Investment – Macro Opportunities: Driving Growth