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2016: It's time for citizens to make their voices heard

United Nations Development Programme

The sun has finally set on the UN’s Millennium Development Goals – the major global effort to meet the needs of the world’s poorest – and attention now turns to the new Global Goals agreed by the UN for the development of the world through to 2030. The truly global coverage and broad scope of the Global Goals should be a source of great optimism and hope. But the world can only achieve them if our leaders live up to the promises they have made. The Global Goals need citizens that are equipped with the tools to hold their leaders accountable.

Sceptics may sneer at the ambition of the Global Goals but the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) show what is possible. The flagship MDG target was to halve the proportion of people living in extreme poverty, from 36% in 1990 to 18% in 2015. We didn’t just meet that target, we exceeded it: extreme poverty is forecast to fall to less than 10% in 2015.

But society cannot be complacent. Economic growth played a huge role in the fight against poverty whereas the Global Goals will not be so easy. For these new goals embrace environmental and human rights—issues that do not get better just because our societies are richer. Indeed, a recent Deloitte research report showed that even if the world economy grows at a healthy 3.1% per year, the world will still fall well short of the Global Goals.

Economic growth will help achieve the Global Goals but it is not enough. It needs to be inclusive and sustainable growth that tackles the injustices and inequalities in our societies head on and makes the protection of our planet a real priority. Simply said, achieving the Global Goals is not about business as usual. Society needs our leaders, in government and business and civil society, to make different, better choices.

global goals color wheel.jpgUN Leaders Participate in Global Citizen Festival 2015
Image: United Nations Photo

That’s why the Social Progress Imperative partnered with Global Citizen and Project Everyone to launch the ‘People’s Report Card’—based on indicators used in the Social Progress Index—to provide the world with a grade on our progress towards the Global Goals. We released the first report card in September, to coincide with the launch of the Goals. Today our world scores a less than impressive C-. The Global Goals are all about getting to an A by 2030.

This year, we will be publishing the first People’s Report Cards for countries. This will let every citizen know how well, or not, their country is progressing towards the Global Goals. And we will update these People’s Report Cards annually to help citizens to hold their leaders to account for the commitments they have made.

The Global Goals might have been agreed by presidents and prime ministers but it’s down to all of us to ensure the targets are met. I’m hopeful that the People’s Report Cards will make the Global Goals relevant and understandable and will empower all of us to make our voices heard over the next fifteen years.

This article was contributed by Michael Green in support of Social Progress Imperative.

You can help make sure governments and countries make progress and raise the mark for the Global Goals by going to TAKE ACTION NOW.