Ukraine must develop as an open, equitable and eco-friendly society

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06 May 2016

Ukraine and Sustainable Development Goals - Prior Progress and Current Challenges


Today, Ukraine is facing its most serious challenges since 1991. The foreign invasion and occupation of parts of Ukraine created massive internal displacement and emigration, and exerted critical pressure on State institutions, local communities and the environment.

On 25 September 2015, 193 Member States of the United Nations at a Summit in the framework of the 70th UN General Assembly in New York unanimously approved the Global Goals for Sustainable Development (hereinafter - SDGs) - a list of 17 Sustainable Development Goals for years 2016-2030, the relevant targets and indicators for monitoring the progress (more here)

We use the available data (October 2015) on Ukraine’s progress in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which preceded SDGs) as a baseline:

Ukraine (population 42.873 million, poverty rate 24.3%, per capita income $3.055, human development index 0.73) has managed to achieve certain progress in reducing absolute poverty, ensuring access to primary and secondary education, improving maternal health and reducing child mortality. However, poverty remains an acute problem. Other areas of concern are education quality, aggravation of environmental problems, absence of progress in gender disparity reduction and a large income gender gap (around 23%), the substantial growth of HIV/AIDS and the TB spread rate. Over 40% of adults (18-65) have at least one chronic disease. The exclusion of women from decision making at the highest political level contrasts with relatively high participation at lower levels. Representation of women in the Parliament at 9.4 percent remains well below the nationally set MDG target.

Despite being home to some of the richest natural environments and resources in Europe (over 25,000 species of plants and fungi and 45,000 animals, many endemic), Ukraine is one of the most heavily polluted countries in the region. It is the world’s most energy intensive country and the sixth largest per capita CO2 emitter. Annually, some 80 thousand hectares of arable land are lost to erosion. Protected areas form 5.6% of territory (compared to the international average of 10%). Since 1991, Ukraine has experienced over 70 disasters, which have affected over 2.7 million people and caused over $2.5 billion in economic damages. The impact of the ongoing war is yet to be assessed.

Acute social exclusion is experienced by 37.7% of households, critical exclusion is experienced by 16.9%. Extremely high risks of social exclusion (2.2 times higher compared with the average and 2.5 times higher compared with families consisting solely of working-age people) exist for families with many children and pensioners. Almost every third family with children is poor (32.6 percent), as is every fifth working person (20.0 percent). Higher education is the most important factor determining social inclusion. Critical exclusion is much more present in rural areas, especially when compared with large cities.

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