United Nations member states set 17 ambitious goals in 2015 — known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) — to end poverty and establish equality around the world by 2030. But, at its current pace, we're not on track to meeting the deadline.

Despite improvement on some SDG targets, change is happening too slowly, as climate change and violent conflict in recent years have contributed to an increase in world hunger and forced displacement, according to the UN’s annual progress report on the SDGs, released last week.

“Almost all areas where you see progress, if you look at the rate or the pace of progress, it is never sufficient to meet the targets,” said Francesca Perucci, chief of the Statistical Services Branch at the UN Statistics Division.

The aims of the SDGs include “[ending] poverty in all its forms everywhere” and “[ending] hunger, [achieving] food security and improved nutrition, and [promoting] sustainable agriculture.” In addition to ending poverty and famine, the SDGs also set targets for improving education, health, and access to clean water.

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But progress on several of these goals isn't just slow, it’s also unequal.

“In many areas, progress not sufficient, particular for the poor and the most vulnerable people,” Yongyi Min, the chief of the Sustainable Development Goal Monitoring Section at the UN, told Devex. “Women have had some improvement in different areas, but women and girls still face challenges in all areas. We see a lot of discrepancy between the rich and poor.”

In some cases, progress isn’t just slow — the situation is actively getting worse.

The number of undernourished people around the world is on the rise. In 2015, 777 million people were not receiving enough food, and in 2016, 815 million people worldwide were not getting enough nutritious food. The global youth unemployment rate is now three times that of the adult unemployment rate. Child marriage in Southern Asia decreased by over 40% between 2000 and 2017. Moreover, 3 in 10 people lack access to safely managed drinking water services.   

Read More: Everything You Needs to Know About the SDGs

Losses from climate change-related destruction and growing urbanization are making it increasingly challenging to stay on track to meet the SDGs.

However, the future is not entirely bleak: The percentage of families living on less that $1.90 per person each day has decreased from 26.9% of the world’s population in 2000 to 9.2% in 2017. Between 1990 and 2013, the number of people living below the extreme poverty line dropped by about two-thirds to 11%.  Major strides have been made in access to health care with the maternal mortality rate declining by 37% since 2000, and under-5 child mortality rates dropping by 50%.

The first issue in the SDGs is to "end poverty in all its forms everywhere," the second is to "end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture." In addition to ending poverty and famine, there are issues like education, health, clean water, the environment, and more.

The 17 goals apply to all nations equally, rather than distinguishing between developed and developing countries, and are designed to connect continents and encourage the emerging solutions to improve our way of life. Consequently, there are many opportunities for improvement, especially on the ground level.

Global Citizen campaigns in support of the Sustainable Development Goals — also known as the Global Goals. You can take action here to help end extreme poverty and test your knowledge of the goals.


Demand Equity

The World Is Behind Target to Achieve the Global Goals by 2030

By Erica Sánchez  and  Dana Brandes-Simon