Friday marks the fifth anniversary of the international community's commitment to the United Nations’ Global Goals.
On Sept. 25, 2015, 193 member states unanimously endorsed the 17 goals to advance sustainable development and end extreme poverty around the world. The Global Goals were formed under the principle of leaving no one behind and calling on everyone — including governments, businesses, and citizens — to take action.
However, in 2020, the global community is still not on track to achieve the goals. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated inequalities, reversed decades of progress, and introduced new challenges. Now, achieving the Global Goals is more important than ever to help tackle COVID-19 and “build back better.”
Project Everyone, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network’s Thematic Research Network on Data and Statistics (SDSN TReNDS), the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data, and design studio Pentagram introduced the first Global Goals Day on Friday to reiterate the importance of reaching the goals’ targets.
The day's organizers are focusing on "factivism," with 10 up-to-date facts on extreme poverty, inequality, and the planet that need to be addressed in order to achieve the goals by 2030.
Check out the facts below and learn more about actions you can take in your everyday life.
1. 1% of our population holds nearly half of our wealth.
Global Goal 1 revolves around ending poverty in all its forms everywhere. Although the COVID-19 pandemic caused the first increase in global poverty in decades, the world was off track to end poverty by 2030 even before the crisis began. The UN estimates that 71 million were pushed into extreme poverty in 2020.
Today, too many people’s well-being and potential is determined by where they live or how much money they have. To help make the world a more equitable place, you can support people experiencing homelessness, organizations working to alleviate poverty, and pay equity to help close the wealth gap.
2. Nearly 1 billion people don't have enough to eat.
Before COVID-19, food insecurity was already on the rise. In 2014, 23.2% of the population were affected by moderate or severe food insecurity. In 2018, that number rose to 26.4%.
The pandemic has hit small-scale food producers in developing countries the hardest, putting millions of people at risk of going hungry or not having access to food.
The UN aims to end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition, and sustainable agriculture by 2030. To help realize these goals, you can eat more sustainably, buy local or fair-trade food, and try not to waste any food.
3. 84 million people in sub-Saharan Africa can't access essential health care.
The UN wants to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for everyone at all ages. The COVID-19 pandemic has strained health care infrastructures and severely impacted millions of people’s health around the world.
The disruptions to health care systems could reverse decades of improvements. However, in order to respond to COVID-19 and be prepared for any future outbreaks, health progress needs to be accelerated.
You can donate your blood, place yourself on the organ and tissue donors list, and support organizations providing essential health care to help make these goals a reality.
4. COVID-19 has disrupted the education of 1 billion students.
COVID-19 forced schools to close and kept 90% of students out of school worldwide, which has reversed years of progress in education.
The UN is working to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education for all, but by 2030 over 200 million children will still be out of school.
To help students get access to education, you can mentor students and help with their homework, organize a book exchange in your community, and encourage your place of work to help young people gain experience and learning opportunities.
5. Men make up 75% of parliamentarians.
Gender equality has improved around the world as instances of human rights issues like child marriage and female genital mutilation have declined in recent years.
However, the hope of achieving a world of gender equality where all women and girls are empowered is still not a reality. For example, the vast majority of leaders and people in government positions are men, with only 25% of parliamentary seats filled by women.
Representation isn't the only issue, especially during the pandemic. In some countries, the UN has reported a 30% increase in violence against women during COVID-19 lockdowns. Women are also fighting COVID-19 on the front lines — 70% of health care and social workers are women.
To help advance women’s rights, vote for leaders who champion women’s rights, advocate for equal pay, and call out gender discrimination wherever you see it. Make sure to educate and empower the next generation to understand the benefits of gender equality.
6. The world lost a football pitch's worth of tropical forest every 6 seconds in 2019.
The world is also falling short on its target to protect, restore, and promote sustainable use of ecosystems on land.
A 2020 report by the UN found that forest areas are continuing to decline at an alarming rate, biological diversity is threatened, and many species are at risk of extinction.
Only one-third of countries were on track to achieve their national targets to integrate biodiversity into national planning.
There are changes you can take to keep our planet healthy. Try to reduce your paper usage, plant a tree, or make investments in green, ethical, and sustainable projects.
7. 615 million people suffer from water stress.
2019 was the second-warmest year on record, defined by massive wildfires, hurricanes, droughts, wildfires, and other climate disasters across nearly every continent. By the end of the century, global temperatures are expected to rise as much as 3.2 degrees Celsius.
The lockdowns during the pandemic did result in a drop in greenhouse gas emissions, but experts say even that was not enough to stop global warming. When restrictions are lifted, human activity and pollution are expected to return to previous levels.
To make your home more sustainable you can take shorter showers, turn down your central heating, and draught-proof your home.
8. Nearly 80 million people were forcibly displaced in 2019.
A record 79.5 million people fleeing war, persecution, and conflict in 2019. With the COVID-19 pandemic putting millions at risk, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for a global ceasefire so that humanitarian aid could safely be delivered.
To support peace, justice, and strong institutions, you can donate to organizations that are providing food, shelter, and care to refugees, and speak to your leaders and influential individuals who can help to create a world where refugees are welcome.
9. Two-thirds of the world's population is breathing polluted air.
Rapid urbanization means that 4 billion people in cities face air pollution, inadequate infrastructure, and unplanned urban sprawl. Air pollution can increase the risk of cardiovascular and respiratory disease and led to nearly 7 million deaths around the world in 2016.
In order to be mindful of your carbon footprint, try to use energy-saving cars or bikes to get around. You can also switch to a green energy supplier and go on holiday in your own country to try to offset your carbon emissions.
10. Almost have of the world's population has no access to the internet.
Fewer than 1 in 5 people are in the least-developed countries are connected to the internet.
The Global Goals aim to promote resilient, inclusive, and sustainable infrastructure. During a pandemic, when everyone is confined to their homes and using technology to work and go to school, the need for internet access has only been heightened.
To help others who are struggling to connect, you can donate your old technology devices, share your Wi-Fi or broadband connections, and help others become technologically literate.