Can we end hunger and poverty, halt climate change and achieve gender equality in the next 15 years? The governments of the world think we can. The new Global Goals show what we, humanity, want to become. But are they even possible? Or are leaders making promises they don’t expect to keep? Looking at recent history helps know what to expect.
Back in 2001, the world agreed another set of goals, the Millennium Development Goals The flagship goal then was to halve the number of people living in poverty. Just 15 years later, the world has not only met, but exceeded this goal. The pessimists and the doomsayers who say the world cannot get better are simply wrong.
A lot of that improvement was accomplished through economic growth in countries like China and India, so many people hope that further economic growth and business as usual will repeat its success and deliver the new Global Goals. The Global Goals, however, are much different than the Millennium Development Goals, “addressing the root causes of poverty and the universal need for development that works for all people,” according to the United Nations Development Programme.
So the Social Progress Imperative worked with analysts at global consulting firm Deloitte to determine whether or not economic growth will bring about the Global Goals. This is what they found in their “Social Progress by 2030” report:
The bad news is that there is no reason to think that simply growing the global economy, even in a rosy scenario, will get us to the Global Goals by 2030. That is partly because there are social costs, like environmental pollution and diseases like obesity, which tend to accompany economic growth.
The good news is that economic performance alone does not dictate how well a country can perform socially. The Social Progress Index shows that there are many countries—at different levels of economic growth—that can lead the way, including Costa Rica, New Zealand, Norway, Rwanda, and Uruguay. These countries perform at very different levels of social progress in an absolute sense, but they all perform better than economic strength alone would suggest. In other words, economic strength is not destiny.
Cynics will say that the world will never achieve our new ambitious goals, that countries will never overcome their histories and differences and put human wellbeing and sustainable development first.
Yet, the new Deloitte research shows that if all countries perform as strongly in 2030 as Costa Rica does today on converting economic power into social progress, the world really could achieve the Global Goals by 2030. The average country could enjoy social progress in 2030 akin to life in Cyprus or Italy today.
Society already has the solutions to many of the problems that the world wants to solve. If everyone holds leaders accountable to prioritizing the wellbeing of people, the world will achieve the Global Goals. But not with business as usual.
You can go to TAKE ACTION NOW and help ensure world leaders and countries across the planet are keeping up with the progress the world needs on the Global Goals.
The Social Progress Imperative is a non-profit organization whose mission is to improve the lives of people around the world, particularly the least well off, by advancing global social progress. Our robust, holistic and innovative measurement tool–the Social Progress Index–measures how healthy, safe and free citizens are. The index and our growing global network empower local actors to both identify shortcomings and deliver the solutions to improve them.