The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals in the Middle East

Human-centered development and expanding quality of life

In a planet of 8 billion people, with finite natural resources, life looks very different for those lucky enough to be economically prosperous. Billions of people right now are living in circumstances that sharply limit their aspirations, of material deprivation, of limited access to healthcare and many of the other components required for good and dignified life.

Making life meaningful is the objective of human development. For the Human Development Report of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), their goal is to allow individuals to make their own choices, accomplishing goals they wish to achieve, and lead an emotionally satisfactory existence.

A key component of human development is sustainability, so that advancements and progress towards a safer, healthier world can be self-generating and long-lasting. Unsustainable practices cause detriment to the natural environment, which impacts people living in it to varying degrees, even if not all parts of the planet equally.

Several factors threaten global improvements towards development, the COVID-19 pandemic among them. But other factors, like climate change, are threats to the world which require solutions founded in human development, because these solutions must remain everlasting to preserve humanity’s presence on the planet. A number of international initiatives have been formed in the name of sustainable human development. The following will assess the most recent agenda, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

What are the SDGs?

At the 2015 UN summit, member nations finalized 17 “Sustainable Development Goals” under the rubric of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The SDGs, otherwise known as the Global Goals, developed over several years with input from civil society, governments, the private sector and academia. The goals built on the earlier Millennium Development Goals that the United Nations established in 2000.

We are rapidly entering the latter half of the 15-year period in which UN member nations vowed to dedicate themselves to and reach the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Initiated at the beginning of 2016, the UN’s purpose in designating SDGs was to advance human development while addressing one of the most dangerous threats facing humanity: climate change.

By establishing clear, streamlined goals for implementation, nations can easily reference them as a benchmark in tracking their progress towards eradicating poverty, providing quality education and healthcare, and reducing global inequalities. However, simply establishing the goals has not removed the barriers created by the inertia of political and economic institutions to achieving sustainable development.

As global emissions continue to rise and negatively impact our natural world and resources, the threat of failing to meet the SDGs has risen to a level where its influence stretches to all other aspects of society. It exacerbates problems like poverty and hunger because “natural disasters, environmental degradation, and extreme weather patterns disrupt harvests, deplete fisheries, erode livelihoods, and spur infectious diseases.”

A great deal of work remains. The distance to attaining many SDGs is still vast in many regions of the world, including much of the Middle East.

In places like Palestine, Lebanon, and Jordan, where the health, education, and agricultural sectors of their society are often fragile, people already suffering from hunger and poverty are at a further disadvantage compared to wealthier nations more able to provide these essential resources to their citizens.

  • SDG 1 No Poverty (End poverty in all its forms everywhere)
  • SDG 2 Zero Hunger (End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture)
  • SDG 3 Good Health and Well-Being (Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.)
  • SDG 4 Quality Education (Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all)
  • SDG 5 Gender Equality (Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls)
  • SDG 6 Clean Water and Sanitation (Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all)
  • SDG 7 Affordable and Clean Energy (Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all)
  • SDG 8 Decent Work & Economic Growth (Promote sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all)
  • SDG 9 Industry / Innovation / Infrastructure (Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation)
  • SDG 10 Reduced Inequalities (Reduce inequalities within and among countries)
  • SDG 11 Sustainable Cities & Communities (Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable)
  • SDG 12 Responsible Consumption & Production (Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns)
  • SDG 13 Climate Action (Take urgent action to combat climate change and its consequences)
  • SDG 14 Life Below Water (Conserve and sustainably interact with the ocean, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development)
  • SDG 15 Life on Land (Protect, promote, and restore sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss)
  • SDG 16 Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions (Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all, and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels)
  • SDG 17 Partnerships for the Goals (Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize global partnerships for sustainable development)

How can the SDGs help?

With global concerns over climate change rising, how are the SDGs meant to solve these problems? Working as more than a promise, the SDGs lay out a strategy of multifaceted solutions for UN member nations to remain committed to, addressing multiple problems at once when it comes to climate change. These strategies are highlighted within and throughout Anera’s many programs.

The UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which outlines the aims of the initiative, shows the simplicity of the SDGs, but also the great ambition and commitment nations need to take tactical, strategic actions.

The multifaceted nature of these proposed solutions is the key to their success. While 17 goals have been clearly specified, actions directed towards a single goal at a time would be missing the point. Take for example, SDG #4: Quality Education. According to the 2030 Agenda, this goal intends for all to have equal and affordable access to education while dispelling gender disparities and implementing curriculum promoting sustainable development.

Not only is education itself a wide focus, but the factors involved in forming a student’s education are numerous. Students need to be well-fed and live in stable environments before attending school each day. They need a school building located close enough to home with adequate infrastructure and resources, like textbooks and study rooms, to support a rigorous curriculum. The school they attend also needs to be affordable, involving both their own and their family’s expenses and employment. Among many other factors, this list addresses challenges highlighted by SDG #s 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, and 16.

The SDGs are intended to inspire a change in perspective on climate change, social inequalities, and extreme poverty, launching a wave of initiatives to address these global challenges as a collective problem, each one impacting the other.

Where did the SDGs come from?

The SDGs were conceived to complete what the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) could not. The MDGs were implemented in 2000, with a goal end date of 2015. These eight goals had similar intentions as the goals currently in place, but lacked their newfound depth and vigor. Not only are the SDGs up to date on what challenges threaten the world most, they also assign responsibility to the international community to commit to their resolution.

The Millennium Development Goals were set in motion in September, 2015. Graphic copyright © United Nations.

Why did the MDGs not work? The MDGs encouraged a mindset that separated these issues into different categories. Take for instance, MDG #1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger – by grouping poverty and hunger together, it promotes the thinking that they are one-in-the-same, whereas in reality the only way for challenges like poverty and hunger to be tackled is pluralistically. The SDGs, on the other hand, engage in multifaceted solutions, while also maintaining the importance of each goal on its own.

The SDGs are also an improvement from the MDGs because they better imply sustainability as the ultimate goal. The MDGs were established to improve the world. The SDGs acknowledge that fixing climate change is a feat that will come out of improving global development through sustainable practices.

Where are we now?

It’s true that the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals have focused governments, media and civil society on a shared framework and commitments toward economic and social development. Nonetheless, recent reports show that global disruptions over the last few years have dramatically thrown us off track.

Some progress has been made towards ending extreme poverty and lowering global mortality rates, but projections suggest current efforts are not enough. At this rate, 6% of the global population will still live in extreme poverty by 2030. Meanwhile, up until 2017 (the latest year of data), the maternal mortality ratio was declining at a rate of 38% and the child mortality rate by 50%. Recent reports estimate that maternal mortality continues at a rate of 211 deaths for 100,000 live births, meanwhile child mortality has been on a consistent decline of approximately 2% annually in recent years. Neither metric is on track to see the eradication of these crises by 2030.

Fewer young girls are being forced into early marriage and more girls and women have attained positions as leaders, but the world has a long way to go before achieving gender equality. Some 800 million people still lack access to reliable electricity with many families experiencing ongoing power outages. Challenges like these were only exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and are especially troublesome during the winter.

Without question, the world’s progress towards the SDGs is in danger. The world is deteriorating as each year passes that we fail to meet our mark. 2019 brought record-high heat after a decade of rising temperatures, which resulted in more natural disasters like droughts and flooding. As a consequence, our natural environment continues to deteriorate with rising CO2 levels, poor production and consumption practices, increasing pollution, and deforestation.

The COVID-19 Pandemic

There have been a number of disruptions to realizing the SDGs, the most significant being the pandemic. According to a UN Policy Brief, the world was already off track even before the pandemic, but its effects have the potential to completely unravel the goals. Not only did the pandemic profoundly impact and threaten the lives of millions around the world, especially vulnerable populations, it also left behind crucial lessons that cannot be ignored.

COVID-19 and its mitigation efforts have exhausted the health systems on a global scale, with even the most advanced clinics and hospitals struggling to accommodate the influx of patients, all with high risk symptoms. Students across the world were kept out of school, leaving many young people at risk for delays in their development and negative impacts on their mental health. Furthermore, businesses and factories closed, leaving over 400 million unemployed, while global supply chains providing essential items were dramatically delayed.

The crisis particularly increased the vulnerability of the world’s most underprivileged populations, who already suffered from inadequate infrastructure, medical services, food and water. Women and children often feel the impacts most harshly as cases of domestic violence have increased 30% in some countries since the pandemic. And, women account for nearly 70 percent of health and social workers globally, putting them at greater risk for coronavirus.

The reality is the problems brought on by COVID-19 could have been tackled better if the world had been more on track towards achieving the SDGs. A recent study by the Globalization and Health journal depicts the “multi-dimensional” impacts of COVID-19 on progress towards the goals. Coronavirus impacts every sector of society, but most harshly factors contributing to global poverty, malnutrition, learning and mortality rates, and mental health problems.

Tripoli Hospital Gets Critical Antibiotics to Save Lives

For many people in Lebanon who can barely keep food on the table, the heavy costs of medicines and other forms of healthcare are often completely out-of-reach. Curing infections and viral diseases is easy with the appropriate medications. As conditions go untreated, they worsen and lead to hospital visits, which are impossible for some in vulnerable communities. Sometimes common illnesses therefore can become life-threatening.

Omar Bitar, a pulmonologist at the Tripoli Governmental Hospital in Lebanon says, “Most patients arrive at the hospital in critical condition because they can’t afford medicine at home, but they also fear the cost of hospitalization.” He continues, “By the time they get to us, their condition has deteriorated to critical levels.”

Anera recently distributed IV antibiotics and other essential medicines to hospitals across Lebanon to keep their supplies stocked. Shortages are common as many hospitals in the Lebanese healthcare system are in a state of crisis.

Global progress towards mitigating these widespread challenges is in danger of being reversed.

To prevent the reversal of the world’s progression towards the goals, it is crucial to identify why SDG progress trackers struggled even before the pandemic. Although the international community was but a few years into their commitment to the SDGs, you might imagine a fresh, ambitious spirit to come with the initiation of the goals. So what happened?

Lack of Political Will

Political unity can be a mighty force for change. A critical mass of nations must push for ambitious progress towards meeting the sustainable development goals. Ambitious planning needs to be met with ambitious implementation. This is the way to get the world back on track by 2030.

The dominant political and economic institutions that have helped to shape the contemporary world, including its inequalities and uneven development, are also critical in determining the fate of the SDGs. Enlisting sufficient support has always been a critical challenge. The primary failures to SDG progression prior to COVID-19 result directly from a failure of government implementation.

The pandemic had an enormously disruptive and often devastating impact worldwide. Failures to adequately combat COVID-19 in one region, often in part due to the limited supply of vaccines initially available to many developing nations, quickly led to the spread of new strains of the virus to other parts of the world. The pandemic should serve as a wake-up call for humanity to take collective and individual action.

UNRWA’s Long-Term Financing

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) provides the basic essentials to vulnerable populations through refugee camp shipments and maintenance, yet protracted regional conflicts and the economic depravity caused by COVID-19 are stretching UNRWA’s capacity. Emergency relief efforts are just as essential in a climate of uncertainty and crisis.

The UNRWA Commissioner-General highlights the organization’s recent financial troubles, claiming that $50-$80 million is needed to keep the organization running until the end of 2022. And this does not compare to the $200 million worth of capital investments needed to restore depleted financial assets.

The SDG agenda is indicative of an enormous amount of change and implies substantial political commitment, in exchange for other political goals. Looking at SDG #11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities, ensuring that cities and communities around the world are safe, inclusive, and directed towards sustainability is an extremely broad category. Addressing SDG #11 requires the improvement of education systems, production systems, transportation systems, medical services, safety services, and more in just a single city – yet again stressing a multifaceted approach.

National governments, civil society and international financial institutions need to come together to determine policy and implement sustainable policies. Each and every community has a role to play in supporting action with their own initiatives towards durable human development.

The support behind a movement for action on equitable global development needs to be both local and widespread. Yet, while political action is critical, political stalemate often stands in the way. The task requires international cooperation. Local unity must inspire national and international unity between nations with the power to take action on behalf of the voices of the people.

Financing Concerns

Closely related to the issue of political will is the gap in financing the Sustainable Development Goals. Developing countries need between $3.3 trillion and $4.5 trillion annually to finance the SDGs. According to UNCTAD, there was about a 2.5 trillion gap annually between current funding levels and what is required for financing the SDGs. Just this year, the total cost of achieving the SDGs also increased by 25%, and recent hindrances to funding have raised the gap by 35%.

The key to filling the funding gap is global investing. Investments of some $5 to $7 trillion is required to fund the SDGs globally. When the SDGs were first initiated in 2016, only $1.4 trillion annually was spent on the 17 goals and 169 targets by low-income, developing countries.

As the costs of financing the SDGs increase with every year of stalled progress, lower-income-countries have far less room to maneuver. A major global stimulus package is needed to stem both COVID-19 and its economic consequences. So far only 1% of high-income countries’ stimulus packages has been directed to non-domestic issues. Increased political support leads to stronger financial support.

The burdens of SDG finance challenges fall on local governments, who lack the fiscal capacity to provide what their communities need. Impact investment is one way to close the SDGs financing gap, which involves businesses, institutions and individuals investing their capital and projects into sustainable development. Anera is positioning itself to take advantage of impact investment opportunities by searching for new and unique finance pathways to “scale up our successful human development work.”

Looking at the countries where Anera works, we will dive into their progress towards realizing the SDGs.

Lebanon’s progress towards the SDGs

Lebanon’s progress towards the SDGs has been minimal, at best, with indicators noting that although more people are gaining access to electricity, internet, and clean water, significant challenges remain to ending hunger, improving education, implementing long-term sustainable practices and bringing equality to all residents of Lebanon. Many of these factors threaten the reversal of Lebanon’s progress so far because their approaches lack a pluralistic, multifaceted approach.

Although the 2022 Sustainable Development Report notes that Lebanon was on track to lower the extreme poverty rate to below 3%, 2019 saw an acceleration of the financial and economic crisis amid political strife, pushing more families than ever into poverty. In the last few years, the Lebanese currency has lost much of its value, causing the costs of basic items like groceries to skyrocket. Recently, a UN expert labeled Lebanon “a failing state.”

Source: Al Jazeera.

Given this, the Sustainable Development Report appears more optimistic about the crisis in Lebanon than the reality. Their data on the percentage of people below the poverty line show that no individual lives with under $3.20/day, these figures may be inadequate metrics to measure the progress of eradicating poverty. Some 36% of the Lebanese population are still impoverished, a four-fold increase in the poverty rate of 8% in 2019.

Among the most worrisome of Lebanon’s indicators is their progress towards SDG #10: Reduced Inequalities. For vulnerable populations, camp and slum conditions are deteriorating, with access to water and electricity increasingly limited. Overall satisfaction with public transportation within cities and between them is at an all time low. Despite these conditions, ESCWA estimated in 2020 that the richest ten percent of Lebanon’s population could pay for poverty eradication by making annual contributions of less than 2% of their net wealth.

Gender inequalities suffer a similar condition. Lebanese women who marry foreigners may not pass on their citizenship to their children. Forced marriage is also an ongoing threat to dozens of underage girls. Child marriage in Lebanon rose steeply during COVID-19, with schools closing and poverty rising.

Lebanon is also undergoing a waste crisis. Landfills are reaching capacity and trash is piling up on streets. Poor waste practices have a negative effect on the environment. Vulnerable settlements are particularly at risk with often little to separate them from harsh elements of the natural environment. Environmental degradation and damage to local communities caused by a history of poor waste practices is difficult to reverse. Lebanon adopted its first solid waste management law in 2018, but financial challenges stalled implementation. Lebanese society must be responsible for implementing better sustainable production and consumption patterns into their homes and businesses.

Supporting local farmers by buying local produce is crucial in establishing healthy food consumption habits. Proper eating has multifaceted effects, including improvements to child development and reducing the prevalence of chronic illnesses.

Although Lebanon had one of highest health sector expenditures in 2018, the country’s financial collapse makes it difficult to distribute these resources evenly, meaning vulnerable communities are often forgotten. As conditions like COVID-19, cholera, and chronic illnesses have surged in recent years, full-functioning healthcare centers and adequate supplies of medicine are essential. Health sector expenditures must be directed towards more sustainable development and preventing shortages of essential medicines.

Vocational Training Programs in Lebanon

An example of Anera’s commitment to sustainability through multifaceted solutions are the vocational training programs offered in Lebanon to young men and women struggling to improve their employability. Instead of focusing on theoretical concepts taught in a more traditional school setting, our vocational training programs, in coordination with UNICEF, seek to teach skills that students would not otherwise learn.

These programs improve each year to ensure that the skills being taught are those in highest demand, based on up-to-date job market studies. Recent additions to our training programs vary to bring real work experience to students in agriculture, healthcare, IT, sewing, construction in fields involving solar panels and electricity, and environmental mobilizations like recycling and waste management. These initiatives bring the places where we work closer to reaching the SDGs.

Meanwhile, generators emit harmful emissions of nitrogen and carbon dioxide into the air. Often these power sources are the only form of electricity for families, who are forced to keep them running almost constantly in their homes.

The SDGs in Palestine

Rahma in her greenhouse with freshly picked cucumbers.
Rahma relies on her greenhouse to support her family.

Palestine lacks the autonomy and resources to implement and track every objective under the umbrella of the SDG agenda. In 2017, the Palestinian government launched the National Policy Agenda (NPA), which mirrors the SDG model in many ways. The NPA lays out three pillars for the future of the Palestinian people: their path to independence, government reform and improved services to citizens, and sustainable development.

With this agenda, Palestine intends to put their people first without taking ambition away from the crucial goal of sustainable development. The overall strategic objective of the Palestine agenda is to develop the statistical infrastructure necessary for monitoring progress towards the SDGs. The NPA has so far adopted commitments to 75 out of the total 169 SDG targets, but there are major challenges that prevent Palestine from fully implementing the necessary initiatives to reach these goals.

The most paramount of the challenges are the ongoing restrictions imposed on Gaza and the West Bank. According to the World Bank, Gaza’s unemployment reached 44% in 2022 and the West Bank nearly 25% while residents can expect up to 80% increases in the cost of bread, flour, and vegetable oil within the year. Meanwhile, Palestinians are denied access to an estimated 1.5 billion barrels of oil reserves in the West Bank and more than $2.5 billion worth of natural gas off the Gaza coast. Regaining control and stability in these regions is paramount to accomplish any government initiatives.

Farms to Fosool (F2F) in Gaza

Anera’s Farms to Fosool (F2F) project is an example of humanitarian development that touches on many of the SDGs simultaneously. We hire 100 local farmers to provide fresh produce that is delivered to 40 local women employed to prepare and package fresh breakfast meals every day. We deliver the nutritional meals to 12 preschools across Gaza, reaching 1,428 children every morning.

The project’s farmers practice sustainable agriculture by using greenhouses without harmful chemicals. We also provide sustainable packaging for those preparing the food. This packaging is not only better for the environment, it can also be repurposed as an affordable resource for students in the classroom once the food is gone, delivering a multifaceted solution to these complex problems.

Other challenges include rising population growth in limited spaces and a lack of job availability and readiness. Overcrowding in refugee camps leaves too few jobs for rising generations about to enter the workforce. “By 2030, there will be a need to construct 1650 new schools, 36 new hospitals and create one million new jobs,” according to the UN. Even with the many schools, hospitals, and jobs created by Anera and other humanitarian organizations so far, the work is far from complete.

Moreover, a challenge that any underdeveloped country faces in today’s post-industrial world is that a significant portion of the population must have tertiary, or higher-level, job experience to make any meaningful or long-lasting impact.

And for those interested in entrepreneurship and starting their own businesses, Palestine lacks the educational and financial resources to support these individuals.

Life under occupation is a hindrance to the pursuit of human development goals as a whole. Sustainability is a crucial component to ensuring that developmental achievements stay in effect for the foreseeable future. Lacking the authority to enact widespread policies for change, Palestinians are forced to pursue these ends independently. Without the power to enact change collectively, efforts towards development are only provisional and difficult to track the progress of

Current obstacles preventing political change will require a major paradigm shift in the political situation. The primary threat to Palestinian authority is the military occupation which results in land confiscation and fragmentation, and causes restrictions on Palestinian financial and natural resources. The blockade and closures deny Palestinians’ the human right to development.

Jordan’s progress towards sustainability

Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan
Zaatari in Jordan is the world’s largest camp for Syrian refugees.

Jordan has initiated important first steps towards the SDGs as of 2022, being one of the top achieving Arab nations. Their progress includes increasing resident access to electricity, property rights, and bank accounts, along with decreased mortality rates and homicides. Yet, major challenges prevent Jordan from maintaining a higher index rate; such as increasing unemployment rates, low primary and secondary school attendance, high gender divisions and ongoing child labor.

The 2022 Sustainable Development Report indicates that Jordan’s progress is on track with a number of developments including SDG #’s 1, 6, 9, 12, 13. The most notable of these achievements is that Jordan has reduced their extreme poverty rate to below 3%.

Most residents have access to basic clean water and sanitation service. But Jordan still has a low freshwater collection rate and inadequate wastewater treatment systems. The country also has made some improvements to their infrastructure by promoting sustainable and innovative production practices. Overall, however, the manufacturing value as a statistical percentage of the country’s GDP is on the decline. More citizens have internet access and academic journals are being released more frequently, promoting educational reading material. These improvements to Jordan’s tech and infrastructure sectors need more funding dedicated towards their research and development.

Aside from lowering poverty rates, Jordan has tracked the good progress towards responsible consumption and production patterns and climate change efforts. With nitrogen, sulfur dioxide, and carbon dioxide emissions, as well as plastic and municipal solid waste kept to a minimum, only Jordan’s electronic waste management stands in the way of realizing SDG #11.

Despite these advancements, challenges related to unemployment and inequality remain. Jordan’s unemployment rate peaked in early 2021 and has since declined some. Incremental decreases are not indicators of positive change, though. Without adequate labor policies in effect to reduce these rates, significant decreases are unlikely. Policies should focus on investments in small businesses, and incentivizing young people to establish small and medium businesses.

Unequal treatment of women through poor policies is also a hindrance to Jordan’s SDG progress. As of 2020, the World Bank estimated that the wage gap between male and female employees was anywhere between 13 to 17 percent, varying based on the public and private sector jobs. Now, these figures are as high as 18%.

Another troublesome aspect of the country’s sustainable progression is related to SDG #6 as Jordan is the second most water scarce country in the world, making water preservation a complicated task. Although 98 percent of the population has access to water, many of these sources are infrastructurally poor and lack sustainable processes. In some areas, water is available only once a week, and the time between shipments increases in vulnerable communities. Effects related to climate change cause aquifer levels to drop.

Only 77.3% of sanitation systems are properly managed to accommodate population growth. A significant portion of schools lack basic sanitation services, making schooling nearly impossible in some circumstances. Vulnerable households must spend most of their incomes on poor and limited services.

Water sustainability practices are especially important under the threat of climate change, which is expected to have large impacts on Jordan in the coming years. Increased temperatures, extreme weather events, and flash flooding are of concern and long-lasting water preservation is paramount.

What Needs to Happen?

As the world falls off track to reach the SDGs by 2030, it is crucial for the international community to make numerous changes to our approach to the SDGs for there to be any hope towards their implementation. Nations and international institutions must direct more wealth and resources into investments in each of the SDGs.

Institutions like the U.N., the World Bank, and the IMF are not moving fast enough in implementing climate change prevention efforts and poverty reduction for nations around the world. Numerous philanthropic organizations and local communities, with their on-the-ground work in vulnerable places, show that change through collaborative action is possible. International-level coordination will better deliver technical breakthroughs like vaccine development, essential resources like cash transfers, and new coalitions for sustainable, green energy production. Without collaboration the world will likely fall too far short of the SDGs.

The importance of the SDGs – though broadcasted often from research analysis outlets, academic sources, and various media outlets – is still not discussed enough! The consequences of failing to reach the SDGs must be made real to people and generate empathy. Leaders, professionals, and communities worldwide must acknowledge problems like climate change, tax evasion, cybercrime, and even antimicrobial resistance to drugs as systemic.

After failing to meet the MDGs in 2015, the world now faces failing to meet the SDGs by 2030, too. If this is the case, what do the goals mean for the world? It might be argued that without initiatives for social change, there would be no change at all. If nothing else, the MDGs, SDGs, and other similar initiatives work to reorient mindsets on both an individual and collective level.

People can take individual action through charity and by implementing sustainable values and practices into their lives and daily routines. But, collectively, people can also form organizations and social movements. Government officials themselves can come together to prioritize sustainability in all future agendas. In prescribing the SDGs as an all-encompassing initiative towards a better future, it is important for these goals to always remain utopian so they might always inspire long-lasting change. If the SDGs were easy to implement, the international community might reach them, cultivating a false sense of improvement that lacks the key component: sustainability, inspiring unending ambition towards development.

Anera is supporting the SDGs

For over 50 years, Anera has helped residents of Palestine, Lebanon, and Jordan by building on the resilience that lives within the hundreds of vulnerable communities we reach. Regardless of circumstance, each and every person embodies the promise to shape themselves, their family’s lives, and their community for the better.

Anera provides immediate and sustainable relief to vulnerable communities in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, and Jordan by building infrastructure, training teachers, teaching job skills and basic literacy and math, delivering vital medicines, linking homes to water, and so much more.

Our multifaceted approach allows our work to impact the overall development of the region towards an international standard. At the induction of the SDGs, every UN Member State signed onto the goals. Thousands of partner organizations from the private sector and civil society also joined the effort and contributed to progress towards the SDGs. Anera is one of those organizations.

Between 2015 and 2022, Anera completed more than 450 projects advancing 12 of the 17 SDGs, culminating in nearly half a billion dollars dedicated to supporting the region. Anera is the seventh highest-funded contributor to the SDGs in Palestine, 20th in Jordan, and 21st in Lebanon. With decades of experience in the region, Anera is well prepared to boost global progress of the SDGs in our program countries. By incorporating the SDGs into our model, we ensure that our programs advance the global humanitarian agenda.



Gender equality and empowering women and girls are fundamental to creating equitable societies. Anera has been actively addressing the critical issue of early and forced marriage among vulnerable populations in Lebanon through the innovative Sama Project over the past two…

Read More

With funding from Helping Hand for Relief and Development, Anera has rehabilitated 12 homes to make them more resilient against flooding and more habitable in a variety of ways.

Read More

This week, Sean Carroll, Anera’s president and chief executive officer, visited sites across Lebanon where Anera works. Here he reports from two locations in Akkar, in the northern part of the country. From the Ritaj El Hayat Medical Center In…

Read More