Greater Effort Needed to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals

Greater efforts toward achieving the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals are needed if all seventeen goals are to be met by the target date of 2030, a report from the United Nations finds.

According to Progress Towards the Sustainable Development Goals: Report of the Secretary-General (19 pages, PDF), progress toward achieving the goals to date has been uneven. The report noted, for example, that while nearly a billion people have been lifted out of extreme poverty (Goal 1) since 1999, about 767 million people remained destitute in 2013 and an estimated 155 million children under the age of 5 were stunted from malnutrition (Goal 2). The report also found that while the global maternal mortality ratio declined by 37 percent and the under-five mortality rate fell by 44 percent between 2000 and 2015 (Goal 3), 303,000 women died during pregnancy or childbirth and 5.9 million children under the age of 5 died in 2015. In the area of education (Goal 4), 263 million children and youth were out of school in 2014, 70 percent of them in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, while gender inequality (Goal 5) persists worldwide, with one in four women globally being married before the age of 18.

The report also found that achieving universal access to basic sanitation (Goal 6) and ending the unsafe practice of open defecation will require a substantial acceleration of progress in rural areas of central and southern Asia, eastern and southeastern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. In terms of promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth (Goal 8), youth were nearly three times more likely than adults to be without a job, despite the global unemployment rate falling from 6.1 percent in 2010 to 5.7 percent in 2016. The report also noted that in 2015 official development assistance rose by 8.9 percent year-over-year in real terms, to a record $142.6 billion, while bilateral aid to the least developed countries fell by 3.9 percent.

"Implementation has begun, but the clock is ticking," said UN secretary-general António Guterres. "This report shows that the rate of progress in many areas is far slower than needed to meet the targets by 2030."

"Empowering vulnerable groups is critical to ending poverty and promoting prosperity for everyone, everywhere," said Wu Hongbo, under-secretary-general for economic and social affairs.

For information about philanthropy's engagement in the global development agenda as it relates to the Sustainable Development Goals, check out Foundation Center's SDGFunders.org data portal.