As the world begins the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 13 per cent of the world population still lives in extreme poverty, 800 million people are suffering from hunger and 2.4 billion live without improved sanitation. The first Sustainable Development Goals Report, which was launched today by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, outlines where the world is at the start of this collective journey and highlights critical challenges for the achievement of the Goals.
“It is vital that we begin implementation with a sense of opportunity and purpose based on an accurate evaluation of where the world stands now,” said Mr. Ban.
Unanimously agreed on by world leaders at the United Nations Headquarters in September 2015, the Goals represent a bold and ambitious global plan to end poverty, address inequalities and tackle climate change. The Goals are universal and call for action by both developed and developing countries, as well as all people to mobilize efforts to ensure economic development, social progress and environmental sustainability worldwide.
This inaugural report presents an overview of the 17 Goals using data currently available to highlight some critical gaps and challenges. While the Goals were launched only seven months ago—too short a period for a proper assessment of progress—the Report looks at trends over the last years in some of the areas, as well as the gaps in addressing global challenges, and provides a clear picture of what is needed to achieve the Goals and ensure that no one is left behind.
Building on the successes
The SDGs build on the successes of the Millennium Development Goals, which produced the most successful anti-poverty movement in history over the period 2000 to 2015.
According to the SDG report 2016, the proportion of the world’s population living below the extreme poverty line dropped by more than half between 2002 and 2012. The proportion of stunted children under age 5 fell from 33 per cent in 2000 to 24 per cent in 2014. Between 1990 and 2015, the global maternal mortality ratio declined by 44 per cent and the mortality rate of children under age 5 fell by more than half.
In 2015, 6.6 billion people, or 91 per cent of the global population, used an improved drinking water source, compared with 82 per cent in 2000.
Official development assistance totalled 131.6 billion US dollars in 2015, which was 6.9 per cent higher in real terms than in 2014 and represents the highest level ever reached.
However, more needs to be done if the SDGs are to be achieved. While poverty has been halved, 1 in 8 people were living in extreme poverty in 2012. An estimated 5.9 million children under 5 died in 2015, mostly from preventable causes, and 216 women died in childbirth for every 100,000 live births.
In 2013, 59 million children of primary school age were out of school and 26 per cent of women aged 20-24 reported that they were married before their eighteenth birthday. In 2015, an estimated 663 million people were still using unimproved water sources or surface water. In 2012, 1.1 billion people were still without this essential service.
Ensuring no one is left behind
“Leaving no one behind is one of the overarching principles of the 2030 Agenda. The first report demonstrates that the benefits of development are not equally shared by all,” stated Mr. Wu Hongbo, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs.
The report stresses that several population groups remain at a large disadvantage. Severe income inequality is one of the biggest challenges. Some survey data indicate that children from the poorest households are more than twice as likely to be stunted as their richest peers. The youth unemployment rate was three times the rate for adults.
However, disaggregated data addressing all vulnerable groups—including children, youth, persons with disabilities, people living with HIV, older persons, indigenous peoples, refugees, internally displaced persons and migrants—as specified in the 2030 Agenda, are sparse.
Better data for better lives
Every journey has a beginning and an end. Plotting that journey and establishing key milestones along the way requires accessible, timely and reliable disaggregated data.
The data requirements constitute a tremendous challenge to all countries, calling for coordinated data-generation and statistical capacity-building efforts involving stakeholders worldwide.
The Sustainable Development Goals Report is an annual assessment of global and regional progress towards the Goals. The report is based on a master set of data prepared by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat with inputs from a large number of international and regional organizations.
For more information on the SDG Report 2016, please visit: http://unstats.un.org/sdgs
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