“Sustainable development is the enigmatic challenge of our time,” writes Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) in the report Sustainable Development Report of the United States 2018 written in partnership with SDG USA. “Our global economy has created great wealth and technological wonders, but it has also created societies that are deeply divided between the haves and the have-nots, and economies that are destroying the natural environment and threatening humanity even as they spur economic growth.”
SDG USA is a think tank dedicated to researching and working towards sustainable development in the United States. This report is the first of an annual index which ranks the 50 states on progress toward the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
There are 17 Sustainable Development Goals used as the baseline for the state ranking system, including ensuring clean water and sanitation for all, building resilient infrastructure, and taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. The report compiles the data from many sources, including the National Equity Atlas. Our data on unequal burden of air pollution was used for their Pollution Burden indicator as a measure of progress toward Sustainable Development Goal 10: Reduced inequalities. This indicator measures the difference between people of color’s population share and people of color’s exposure to cancer-causing pollutants. In 2015, New York State ranked highest in this pollution burden, while Montana ranked the lowest.