Malta is doing relatively well in reaching its Sustainable Development Goal targets, though it is falling short on climate change and sustainable consumption and production indicators.
Data published in a global report tracking progress in achieving the United Nations goals puts Malta in 22nd place out of a global community of 157 countries studied.
With a score of 77 out of 100, Malta sits just ahead of Slovakia, Croatia and Spain and slightly behind Belarus, New Zealand and Ireland in this year’s SDG Index and Dashboard report, published by Bertelmann Stiftung and economist Jeffrey Sachs’ Sustainable Development Solutions Network.
The SDGs are a set of targets which UN member states have agreed to reach by 2030. They follow the Millenium Development Goals, which were a set of eight goals for improving the lives of the world’s poorest people with a 2015 deadline.
SDGs range from ending poverty and hunger to achieving full gender equality, reducing income equality, conserve oceans, combat climate change and ensure access to affordable and reliable sustainable energy. Many of the 17 goals include measurable targets to be achieved by 2030.
Malta got a near-perfect 99.9 score for eliminating poverty and high scores for multiple targets related to healthcare, education and infrastructure. The country also ranks well on metrics related to:
- Treated wastewater
- Marine biodiversity
- Government health and education spending
But the indicators measured also revealed some areas of concern.
The country’s heavy reliance on imports means the country is among the world’s worst culprits when countries are ranked by the amount of reactive nitrogen, which includes ammonia and nitrous oxides, imported per capita. But while Malta’s 255.2kg per capita figure ranks it ninth in the world, it remains a far cry from the 748.2 or 965.4 figures hit by Singapore and Luxembourg respectively.
Malta does especially poorly on metrics for SDG 12 - responsible consumption and production - and SDG 5, which related to gender equality. The country’s score on this count is dragged down by the risible proportion of MP seats held by women, which stands at 12.9%.
Other local shortcomings highlighted by the report indicators include:
- Carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide emissions
- Amount of electronic waste generated
- Development aid provided
- Research and development expenditure
In comments following the publication of the report, Foreign Minister Carmelo Abela highlighted the Maltese government's success in getting EU member states to agree to a common development policy during its period as EU Council president.
He called for greater development aid, saying "we need to continue focusing on development cooperation. Besides increasing our investments in official development assistance, as governments we also have a responsibility to reach out and form new partnerships with global financial institutions and the private sector.”
Malta currently makes just 0.2 per cent of its annual GDP available to impoverished countries through official development aid. The country has also consistently ranked poorly in terms of aid transparency.
Three Scandinavian countries – Sweden, Denmark and Finland – topped this year's SDG dashboard list, though all three have yet to reach all SDG targets and each scored ‘red’ for at least one SDG target. Sweden, with a score of 85.6 out of 100, did best.
On the opposite end of the scale, the Central African Republic, Chad and the Democratic Republic of Congo are the three countries with the furthest to go to achieving SDG targets.
Click here to read the full report.