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“Revolutionary Effort” needed to achieve new global development goals

Written by Susan Nicolai

Press Release

​World leaders must adopt radical approaches if they are meet the new universal development goals to be endorsed the UN General Assembly this month, warns the UK think-tank, the Overseas Development Institute.

 New analysis by Overseas Development Institute (ODI)  shows that many key targets within the 17 new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will need nothing short of a ‘revolutionary effort’ if they are to be achieved.

The ambitious new Sustainable Development Goals   - which will replace the current Millennium Development Goals which expire this year- range from ending poverty to ensuring gender equality to addressing climate change.

Within each goal are key targets which must be met if the SDGS are to be successful.  The report notes that on current rates of progress, none of the goals look fully attainable -   but that some are more achievable than others across the 15 year time-frame of the goals.

Goals that are set to get more than halfway to reaching their targets include eradicating extreme poverty and progress on economic growth in less-developed countries.  

 However, the report notes that of the 17 key targets assessed, 14 will require a ‘revolutionary effort’ to accelerate progress –including ending child marriage, secondary school completion, and access to sanitation.  Others - like inequality, slum populations and climate change - will be even harder to achieve, as global trends are currently going in reverse. 

Report author Susan Nicolai says, “Our research is a wake-up call for world leaders highlighting the extra effort that will be needed to turn the SDG’s idealism into reality. Our analysis shows countries can buck historic trends, with some   governments already out-performing on key fronts like maternal mortality – but it will take an unprecedented, global collective effort to meet the ambition of the new goals.”

Researchers highlight that the world could effectively end extreme poverty if it emulated the achievement of the top 10 performing countries in recent years, which averaged a 92% reduction over between the early 1990s and the late 2000s. Vietnam reduced poverty from 64% to just 2% between 1993 and 2012.

Similarly on maternal mortality, if the world followed the example of the top ten performers, the SDG target would be met:  Nepal achieved a 75% reduction in maternal mortality since the early 1990s, in part by almost doubling its health budget per capita from US$34 in 1995 to US$66 by 2010.

Amongst the reports other key findings are - if current levels of progress continue.

·         Maternal mortality will be reduced globally to around 150 deaths per 100,000 live births but over 90% of maternal deaths (and people living in extreme poverty) will be in Sub Saharan Africa and South Asia by 2030.

·         East Asia will continue to witness rapid improvement in several development outcomes: poverty is set to be virtually eliminated and both undernourishment and child marriage is set to half by 2030

·         Inequality will reduce in Latin America and the Caribbean which was the world’s most unequal region

·         There will be a halt to declining forest cover, with increases beginning from 2020;

·         Although 1.7 billion more people are expected to gain access to electricity, one billion will still be without access to electricity by 2030

·         The number of new child marriages in Sub Saharan Africa is set to increase by 50% by 2030

·         Sub-Saharan Africa will have seen the largest increase in the proportion of young people completing secondary education (two-thirds vs. 90%)

·         We will see a 20% rise in public revenue as a share of GDP in both South Asia and Sub Saharan Africa

Note to editors:

Each of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals is made up of several SDG targets. ODI has selected one key target per goal for projections. Selection was based on whether each target is representative of the goal, quantifiable and easily comparable.