"Despite the initial efforts, the world is not on track for achieving most of the 169 targets that comprise the goals" within the decade ahead, the report said.
The report, "The Future is Now Science for Achieving Sustainable Development," was released ahead of the summit of world leaders at the UN on September 24 and 25, which will be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Seventeen SDGs covering economic, environment and social areas through 169 targets were adopted by world leaders at a summit in 2015 and aims to alleviate poverty and raise overall global well-being while protecting the environment and fighting climate change.
The 15 scientists appointed by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to evaluate the progress towards the goals and to suggest pathways towards them wrestle with the conundrum of economic development and the environment in the report.
Briefing the media about the report, Shantanu Mukherjee, the UN's head of policy analysis for SDGs, said that there were two major problems the world is grappling with increasing inequality and "the pace at which nature is being degraded by human activity, whether it is climate change or biodiversity loss."
"Achieving human well-being and eradicating poverty for all of the Earth's people -- expected to number 8.5 billion by 2030 -- is still possible, but only if there is a fundamental -- and urgent -- change in the relationship between people and nature," the scientists' report said.
This is all the more important because, they warned, "World close to tipping points with the global climate system."
The current model of economic development by increasing consumption is no longer sustaible because it is exhausting the earth's natural resources and deluging it with toxic by-products, the report said.
The "use of material is set to almost double between 2017 and 2060, from 89 gigatons to 167 gigatons" with a corresponding increase in levels of greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change, it pointed out.
The report came up with 20 suggestions for course correction, the chief of which deal with food and energy.
Highlighting both inequality and hunger, the report said that inefficient food and energy systems are depriving some 2 billion people of food security, while 820 million are undernourished, and 2 billion adults are overweight and at the same time production processes are having a serious impact on the environment.
The report reinforced the need to switch to renewable energy systems and sustainable agriculture.
The scientists said that important ways to help achieve the SDGs are ending legal and social discrimination and promoting trades unions, nongovernmental organisations and women's groups.
(Arul Louis can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter @arulouis)