The United States may regard itself as a “leader of the free world,” but an index of development released in July 2022 places the country much farther down the list. In its global rankings, the United Nations Office of Sustainable Development dropped the U.S. to 41st worldwide, down from its previous ranking of 32nd. Under this methodology – an expansive model of 17 categories, or “goals,” many of them focused on the environment and equity – the U.S. ranks between Cuba and Bulgaria. Both are widely regarded as developing countries. The U.S. is also now considered a “flawed democracy,” according to The Economist’s democracy index. As a political historian who studies U.S. institutional development, I recognize these dismal ratings as the inevitable result of two problems.
By Thomas Pogge and Alnoor Ladha in Occupy - Most people haven’t heard about the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). And if you have, there’s probably a rosy halo emanating from the deep recesses of your subconscious. If so, the UN, the World Bank, the Gates Foundation, ONE.org, Save the Children and other counterparts of the charitable-industrial complex have done their job well. On the eve of the Sept. 25 UN summit – when the new SDGs, a set of 17 goals and 169 targets, will replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – there is a battle for mindshare over the merits of this plan. The SDGs are important because they are a once-in-a-generation declaration of what the world’s power elites are willing to publicly commit. In fact, they are the only shared international agreement to address global poverty. As such, they capture many of the central assumptions and norms that underpin the global political economy.