February 26, 2018 / 8:39 PM / a year ago

U.S. states must step up to fix social ills: watchdog

NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - None of the United States’ 50 states has achieved quality education, clean energy or any of the ambitious goals similar to the global agenda enacted by the United Nations, a watchdog group said on Monday.

States in the northeast have made the most progress while those in the south placed last, according to a report by Future Now, a non-profit advocacy group, and its affiliate SDG USA.

The goals are a way for states to improve quality of life and address sustainable development at a time when the national government is not doing so, the founders of Future Now said.

“America’s goals” are a tailored version of seven of the U.N.’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a global “to-do” list approved in 2015 unanimously by U.N. member nations.

“Individual states can improve the lives of their citizens, regardless of the current national policies and political gridlock,” the founders of Future Now said in a statement.

“We believe that by reaching high, and looking ahead to 2030, America can overcome the rancor and paralysis that we see so sadly on display in politics today.”

The Future Now founders are Jeffrey Sachs, a leading economist and director of the Center for Sustainable Development at New York’s Columbia University, Adam Pritzker, chairman of Assembled Brands, a brand-building company, and Daniel Squadron, a former New York state senator.

The U.S. goals are good jobs, affordable quality healthcare, investing in children, empowering people over special interests, equal opportunity, sustainable infrastructure, and clean air, water and energy.

The global SDGs for 2030 include reducing conflict, promoting gender equality and tackling climate change, hunger and joblessness.

The Future Now report looked at factors in U.S. states such as paid sick leave, high school graduation rates, child-care costs, voter participation and renewable energy consumption.

New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts, located in New England, performed best. At the bottom were the southern states of Louisiana, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Alabama.

Future Now first announced the list of goals in October when it launched a bid to elect candidates who back such an agenda. It offers support to candidates who sign on to the goals.

The group said it planned to release a report on the states’ progress every year.

Reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst, Editing by Robert Carmichael; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org

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