Progress to date toward the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has fallen short of expectations and is unlikely to fully meet 2030 targets. Past assessments have mostly focused on short- and medium-term evaluations, thus limiting the ability to explore the longer-term effects of systemic interactions with time lags and delay. Here we undertake global systems modeling with a longer-term view than previous assessments in order to explore the drivers of sustainability progress and how they could play out by 2030, 2050, and 2100 under different development pathways and quantitative targets. We find that early planning for systems change to shift from business as usual to more sustainable pathways is important for accelerating progress toward increasingly ambitious targets by 2030, 2050, and 2100. These findings indicate the importance of adopting longer-term timeframes and pathways to ensure that the necessary pre-conditions are in place for sustainability beyond the current 2030 Agenda.
One Earth, Volume 5, 15 July 2022,