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ACT making strides toward the Sustainable Development Goals

12 October 2020 at 5:44 pm
Maggie Coggan
Researchers say there needs to be a prioritisation of environmental SDG goals across all states 

Maggie Coggan | 12 October 2020 at 5:44 pm


ACT making strides toward the Sustainable Development Goals
12 October 2020 at 5:44 pm

Researchers say there needs to be a prioritisation of environmental SDG goals across all states 

The ACT has topped national charts once again when it comes to making progress on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, new research reveals. 

Centre for Social Impact researchers used the Australian Social Progress Index (ASPI) tool to measure how each state and territory was tracking in achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

Compared to all other jurisdictions, the ACT benchmarked higher in achieving the goals of no poverty; zero hunger; quality education; gender equality; industry, innovation and infrastructure; reduced inequalities; sustainable cities and communities; peace, justice and strong institutions; and partnerships for the goals.

New South Wales was found to be making good progress towards the SDGs of zero hunger and good health and wellbeing, but needed to prioritise environmental goals, life below water and life on land.

But NSW wasn’t the only state which did poorly when it came to the environment. Prioritising environmental goals was something that CSI research assistant, Isabella Saunders, said needed improvement across all areas of the country. 

“There really needs to be more of a prioritisation on the environmental goals, because for both of the environmental [SDGs], every state and territory did not do very well,” Saunders told Pro Bono News. 

She did say however that because the indicators were based on available data, the scores were slightly limited.   

“Because there isn’t very good, adequate or consistent environmental data collected across Australia, the scores are a little bit limited,” she said. 

“But it does show that there is a lot of work across the board in Australia to be done on achieving those environmental goals.” 

At the bottom end, the Northern Territory was found to be making slow progress towards achieving the SDGs.   

“It maps poorest progress on all goals except 14 (Life Below Water) and 15 (Life on Land),” the research said. 

Western Australia also performed worse than its economic peers on overall social progress, but was found to be performing better on shelter indicators, as well as the infant mortality rate and cardiovascular mortality rate. 

“In terms of SDGs, according to the APSI, WA should prioritise improving progress towards goal 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth),” the research said. 

The ASPI tool, launched back in February, is designed to help policymakers in different states and territories identify pressing social issues for their region. 

It’s the first time researchers have used the tool to track how regions are tracking against the SDGs, and Saunders said she hoped people made use of it to inform policy decisions. 

“For anyone working within the social purpose space or within government, they can find an area within the ASPI that really represents the things that they care about,” she said. 

“For example, a minister for education could look at the ASPI scores and how those matched the SDGs in terms of looking at access to basic and advanced education in Australia, helping them identify where there are opportunities for development.” 

She also said the tool presented a good opportunity for collaboration between governments and for-purpose organisations to work towards shared goals.  

“We do want it to be something that governments are able to partner with not-for-profit and for-purpose organisations to look at shared causes represented by the components in the index,” she said.

“And then also look at how they can find opportunities to work together and achieve those goals that they mutually care about.”


During the week of 12-16 October CSI is running daily webinars to delve into the ASPI results for each state and territory. Register for free here. 

Maggie Coggan  |  Journalist  |  @MaggieCoggan

Maggie Coggan is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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