In 2015 Heads of States at the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a resolution to transform the world by 2030 and achieve a diverse set of sustainable development goals (SDGs). This agenda ranges from the eradication of poverty, reducing inequalities and discrimination, spurring economic welfare, and tackling climate change. The achievement of the 17 SDGs is measured by means of progress in a substantial set of indicators.
The National Statistics Office has just published a 430-page report detailing progress against most of these indicators, including cases where analysis is not possible due to lack of data. The table below summarises the analysis made by the NSO in terms of progress towards the achievement of an indicator linked to a particular goal, regress, or a stable trend. The first thing to note is that in the majority of indicators Malta has made progress.
Malta has made progress in the majority of indicators.
There has been noticeable progress in 116 indicators, ranging from the share of the population that is materially deprived, to healthy life expectancy, the proportion of women in managerial positions, expenditure on research and development, the use of public transport, and national emissions per capita, amongst others.
In another 33, such as the surface area designated under Natura 2000, and the share of the population living in an area with noise pollution, the situation has remained stable. This means that in two out of three indicators, the situation has either improved or remained stable.
An important thing to note is that while Malta is doing very well in the economic related indicators, such as economic growth and higher employment, there is also considerable progress in the social sphere.
Malta’s health and education systems are progressing well while there is progress in tackling social and gender inequalities.
More improvement needed in some areas
That said, there are areas for improvement. In 33 indicators there has been some regress over time. When it comes to certain SDGs, such as responsible and sustainable consumption and production, there clearly needs to be more national effort.
In 33 indicators there has been some regress over time.
Between 2010 and 2019 domestic material consumption has increased, resulting in an increased ecological footprint per capita.
Similarly, municipal waste per capita has increased, while vacant land has fallen. In the area of justice and institutions,the situation has also not performed as well as others, though here one must note that the analysis stops at 2019. A lot has been achieved in these areas with the change in administration in 2020.
The overall picture that emerges from this very extensive and wide-ranging assessment – possibly the largest statistical exercise ever conducted for Malta, is quite reassuring. Over the last decade the country has made considerable strides forward across most spheres of sustainable development.
Malta is more prosperous, more educated, healthier, and a more equal society than it was in 2010.
We have also understood that we need to do more for the environment and to strengthen our institutions.
It will be crucial in future years to emulate the success we have had in many areas and redirect our efforts so that we continue to improve our record in achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.