The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are an urgent call for action by all countries – developed and developing – in a global partnership. We deliver the highlights trends for selected targets within a sustainable development goals framework.
The near future of global poverty
We aim to end poverty, in all its forms, everywhere. Globally, poverty has been declined, but even before this year, the pace of that decline had slowed. The economic effects of COVID-19 may have pushed more than 100 million more people into extreme poverty—the first significant increase in this measure in decades.
At its broadest, poverty reflects an individual’s inability to achieve a particular level of welfare, in terms that may include food, clothing, transportation, public services, health, wealth, or even recreation. The discussion here focuses on poverty in a narrower sense: income or consumption in monetary terms.
Ensuring food security for all
Ending hunger entails ending chronic undernourishment. Undernourishment occurs when “a person cannot acquire enough food to meet daily minimum dietary energy requirements for one year.” It is a serious condition that can lead to stunting, other long-term effects on health, and diminished educational attainment.
After declining for a decade, the undernourished population is now rising. In 2019, more than 690 million people experienced hunger—an increase of nearly 60 million in 5 years.
Good health and well-being
Global health amid a pandemic
Local health risks can become global health risks. In 2019 a new virus began to spread across the world, with vast consequences for human health and the global economy. As of the end of October 2020, more than 46 million cases of COVID-19 had been recorded globally. Epidemiological studies suggest this may be an undercount. Official figures placed fatalities over 1.2 million. The pandemic has brought increased attention to zoonotic events (transmission of diseases from animals to people), the risk of new disease emergence, and the need to prepare for global health emergencies adequately.
Pathogens originating among wild or domestic animals—including anthrax, brucellosis, rabies, Q fever, type influenza, and Rift Valley fever—cause more than 60 percent of humans’ infectious diseases. About 75 percent of new emerging infectious diseases, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome, Ebola hemorrhagic fever, and the original emergence of HIV, are of animal origin.
Researchers expect that disease transmission from animals to humans will continue and that no geographical area is free from risk. While places around the tropics appear particularly vulnerable to the emergence of infectious diseases, densely populated locations are also at high risk.
Children’s education in crisis
Over the past 50 years, primary school enrollment has been nearly universal in high-income countries. While low- and middle-income countries lagged far behind in 1970, they have since made substantial progress toward universal primary enrollment. In 2018 nearly 90 percent of primary school-age children in low- and middle-income economies were enrolled in school. But despite high enrollment rates, many students are not learning.
Learning outcomes are usually measured by assessments carried out among children enrolled in school, though they differ across countries. The coverage of learning assessments (by age group and subject matter) also differs across countries. Also, since these assessments are given in schools, they exclude children who do not attend school. All of this makes it challenging to compare learning outcomes across countries.
Legal progress towards gender equality
Providing equal rights to women and men is fundamental to achieving gender equality. For generations, women’s rights movements have fought to make this a reality. For example, while this was not the case a century ago, today, most women worldwide have the right to vote. However many other laws affecting economic opportunity and financial and social inclusion continue to treat men and women differently. On a broad set of legal rights, the average woman today is afforded only three-quarters of the rights the average man enjoys.
Clean water and sanitation
Water, sanitation, and hygiene: essential for the well-being
Access to drinking water and sanitation is a fundamental human right. Achieving universal, adequate, and equitable access to safely managed water and sanitation services is at the core of sustainable development.
Affordable and clean energy
The dawning promise of energy for all
Modern forms of energy improve many areas of daily life. Better sanitation systems, well-functioning health care, and education services, and dependable transportation and telecommunications depend on reliable electricity. Lighting a single room allows a child to read or do homework at night, while continuous power can support larger appliances, keep food cold, and allow businesses to flourish.
We recognize that expanding access to electricity and other forms of energy is fundamental to improving people’s lives and communities. It aims for efficient energy use and the promotion of renewable sources of energy.
The proportion of people worldwide with access to electricity and clean fuels has increased substantially over the past decade. In 2018, 90 percent of the world’s population had access to electricity, up from 82 percent in 2008, and 63 percent had access to clean fuels and technology for cooking, up from 55 percent.
Decent work and economic growth
Increasing productivity and reducing vulnerable employment
It aims to promote economic growth and decent work for all. Economies grow when more workers have access to jobs and when workers are more productive. The COVID-19 pandemic has considerably impacted employment opportunities in countries around the world. In January 2020, before the pandemic, global GDP was projected to grow by 2.5 percent in 2020; in June 2020, it was projected to contract by 5.2 percent, with even steeper contractions in some regions. That would mark the deepest recession in eight decades.
Industry, innovation, and infrastructure
Remote rural areas and empty skies
Equal access to reliable transportation is necessary for development and key to equitable and sustained growth. It brings education, health services, and jobs within reach of all communities, expands access to local, regional, and global markets, and helps reduce poverty. Focuses on high-quality, reliable, sustainable, and resilient regional and transborder infrastructure is about bringing affordable and equitable transport accessible to everyone.
Over the past few decades, global travel has accelerated, and the people and goods movement has made the world increasingly interconnected. Globally, air passengers’ journeys increased from 1.7 billion in 2000 to more than 4.2 billion in 2018. Then the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 resulted in an abrupt decline in travel worldwide. Air traffic has been severely affected, and the pace of recovery remains uncertain.
Global air travel plunged by over 70 percent in April and May 2020
Unequal countries in an unequal world
Inequality pervades the modern world, both within and across countries and in terms of resources and opportunities. We seek to address these disparities in both economic and non-economic spheres of life.
The focus here is economic inequality, measured in monetary terms adjusted for price differences across countries. This may seem a narrow lens to view a complex phenomenon, but monetary inequality reflects, reinforces, and drives other non-economic inequalities. It is also well-measured, with data going back several decades.
Sustainable cities and communities
Polluted air plagues cities worldwide
The urban population accounts for more than half of all people worldwide, having outnumbered the rural population for the first time in 2007. Of the global urban population of 4.2 billion, 60 percent—2.6 billion people—reside in large cities with more than 300,000 people. That number is projected to increase to 3.3 billion by 2035. The number of these large cities has grown from 355 in 1955 to 1,861 today. Recognizing the critical role of cities in global development, we aim to “make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable.” Global economics prioritizes reducing the negative environmental impacts of cities, including outdoor air pollution.
Worldwide an estimated 4.2 million people a year die because of outdoor air pollution. A common source of air pollution is delicate particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 microns or less. These particles are about 1/30 the width of human hair and consist of dust, dirt, smoke, and heavy metals. Their tiny size makes them especially dangerous because they can penetrate the respiratory tract, leading to lung cancer, stroke, heart disease, and other serious illnesses.
Responsible consumption and production
Reducing waste for a sustainable future
Managing plastic and food waste for a sustainable future is also one of the hot topics in management by the global government. We recognize that long-term development and economic growth depend on changing how we produce and consume goods. It demands more efficient and environmentally friendly materials across the lifecycle through production, consumption, and disposal. This includes some critical and ambitious targets improving how we use and dispose of materials such as minerals, fossil fuels, and metals, reducing food loss at all stages of the food supply chain, and minimizing plastic waste.
Floods, droughts, and heatwaves herald a changing climate.
The world’s climate is changing. The cause is well understood. Emissions of greenhouse gases result from human activities such as burning fossil fuels for heat, electricity, transportation, industrial processes, and changes in land use.
Climate change threatens to undermine progress in nearly every area of human development. It poses substantial risks to food production, water supplies, ecosystems, energy security, and infrastructure. By 2050 more than 140 million people may be forced to migrate within national borders to avoid its worst effects.
We seek to combat climate change and address its impacts. Targets specifically aim to strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters. Such events represent the leading edge of climate change. Their frequency and intensity are increasing.
Life below water
Marine species under threat
Fish are crucial to the functioning of ecosystems as well as for human livelihoods and nourishment. Marine fish are the primary food source for approximately 1 billion people, and marine fisheries employ about 60 million people. But over the years, overfishing has left many fish stocks so depleted that they can no longer replace themselves. Thirty-five percent of global fish stocks are overfished, a dramatic rise over the 10 percent levels of the 1990s.
Fish and other aquatic species are particularly vulnerable to threats from human activities, and aquatic species face much higher rates of extinction than terrestrial species such as birds and mammals. Today, 40 percent of amphibians, 30 percent of freshwater fish, and more than 30 percent of coral reefs and marine mammals are under threat.
Life on land
Preserving biodiversity by protecting forests
Across the globe, wildlife species face extinction. Each extinction event results in biodiversity loss—the irreversible loss of a unique species and a reduction in the overall variety of life on the planet. Biodiversity loss often follows habitat destruction—for example, through deforestation or desertification. Deforestation is a grave threat to wildlife because forests constitute a significant source of biodiversity on land.
We pledge to address these issues and provide a more viable ecological platform for sustainable development. We call for urgent and significant action to reduce the degradation of natural habitats, halt the loss of biodiversity, and, by 2030, protect and prevent the extinction of threatened species.
Peace, justice, and strong institutions
The importance of resilient and responsive institutions
The essential role of resilient and responsive institutions aims to improve people’s lives by reducing violence, improving access to justice, and promoting practical, accountable, and inclusive institutions.
Strong, effective, transparent, and accountable institutions are essential for sustainable development and critical for governments to deliver their citizens’ services. In 2020 governments worldwide have found themselves under strain while managing the fallout and consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Partnerships for the goals
Remittances: a lifeline for many economies
We emphasize the importance of partnerships for global development and focus on facilitating and strengthening financial links between countries. Remittances are monetary transfers sent by workers living abroad to their families at home. The ability to find employment abroad and send money home is critical for many of the world’s most economically disadvantaged people.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, migration and remittances were trending upward. Remittance inflows to low- and middle-income countries had come to exceed official development assistance by a factor of three, reaching $548 billion in 2019 and overtaking foreign direct investment for the first time.