Progress is not moving fast enough to meet an ambitious set of global goals to conquer poverty, inequality and other international woes by a 2030 deadline, slowed largely by growing war and violence, the United Nations said on Monday.
Advances have been few and uneven in reducing conflict and promoting gender equality, sustainable energy, infrastructure and other key areas, the U.N. said in a report assessing the pace of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Approved in September 2015, the sweeping 15-year agenda approved by the 193 U.N. member states is a global "to-do" list to tackle such issues as climate change, education, hunger, joblessness and land degradation.
The cost of implementation has been estimated at $3 trillion a year.
"The rate of progress in many areas is far slower than needed to meet the targets by 2030," wrote U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in a foreword to the 60-page report.
Intensified war and violence are critical obstacles to implementation, said Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs.
"Conflict has become the most insurmountable barrier to poverty eradication and sustainable development," he wrote in the report.
War and violence led to some 65.6 million people being forced from their homes at the end of 2016, an increase of about 300,000 people over the previous year, Wu wrote.
Children are disproportionately affected, he added, deprived of health care, education, safe water and shelter and often separated from their families.
Other particularly thorny problems include reducing maternal deaths, making education universally accessible to children and the representation of women in political decision-making, Guterres said in the foreword.
He also cited persistently high rates of violence against women and girls and "alarmingly" high unemployment rates among young people.
"Advancements have been uneven across regions, between the sexes, and among people of different ages, wealth and locales, including urban and rural dwellers," the report said.
Wu, at a U.N. event to release the report, said, however, he was "not that pessimistic."
He said in 2016, 22 nations volunteered for the U.N.'s review of their SDGs' progress, and that number doubled to 44 for the 2017 review.
"More and more national governments would like to get involved," he said.