How is the world doing on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), our collective blueprint for a healthy planet, free of crushing poverty and injustice?

The “Sustainable Development Goals Report 2017,” released by the United Nations today during the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development assesses where we stand on reaching the SDGs. The UN notes:

“While considerable progress has been made over the past decade across all areas of development, the pace of progress observed in previous years is insufficient to fully meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and targets by 2030. Time is therefore of the essence.

“Moreover… progress has not always been equitable. Advancements have been uneven across regions, between the sexes, and among people of different ages, wealth and locales, including urban and rural dwellers. Faster and more inclusive progress is needed to accomplish the bold vision articulated in the 2030 Agenda.”

One of the biggest takeaways from the report is that it shows that the international community can make progress when we act – and in many areas, we are making progress – but we must strengthen our work to quicken the pace of change and make sure no one is left behind. Our challenges are serious, but now is the time to act.

Below are 10 highlights from the report that show that we can make progress toward a better world, but we have to move our efforts into high gear and focus on the vulnerable groups that have been shut out.

  1. Nearly 1 billion people moved out of extreme poverty between 1999-2013. Yet an estimated 767 million people lived below the extreme poverty line in 2013. (Tweet Me)
  2. The global stunting rate of children under 5 fell by 10%, from 33% in 2000 to 23% in 2016, meaning an estimated 155 million children were stunted in 2016 because they did not receive the nutrition they need. (Tweet Me)
  3. Fewer women and babies are dying. Between 2000 and 2015, maternal deaths dropped by 37%, and under-5 child deaths by 44%. However, still in 2015, 303,000 women died during pregnancy or childbirth and 5.9 million children under age 5 died – mostly from preventable causes. (Tweet Me)
  4. In 2014, only 9% of children of primary school age were out of school. The news is mixed though, as progress has virtually stalled since 2008. (Tweet Me)
  5. Child marriage is declining, but not quickly enough. Around 2000, nearly 1 in 3 women between 20 and 24 years of age reported that they were married before 18 years of age. Around 2015, the ratio was just over 1 in 4. (Tweet Me)
  6. In 2015, 2.9 billion people used a safely managed sanitation service, but still 892 million people openly defecate. (Tweet Me)
  7. The number of people with access to electricity grew from 77.6% in 2000 to 85.3% in 2014; yet, more than 1 billion people still don’t have electricity. (Tweet Me)
  8. The global unemployment rate fell from 6.1% in 2010 to 5.7% in 2016. Yet, youth (aged 15 to 24 years) were nearly three times more likely than adults to be without a job. (Tweet Me)
  9. From 2010 to 2015, the annual net loss of forest area globally was less than half that of the 1990s. Yet the proportion of marine stocks that are overfished has been on the rise, from 10% in 1974 to 31% in 2013. (Tweet Me)
  10. Official development assistance (ODA) reached a new high in 2016 at $142.6 billion, yet bilateral aid to the poorest countries fell by 3.9%. (Tweet Me)

The report also notes that the importance of strong data systems, in both collecting and analyzing data, to make sure every person is counted and that we have an accurate picture of the state of the world, areas where we are doing well, and where we need to do better.

Each of us can make a difference in our communities and in partnership with the United Nations. To read more from the Sustainable Development Goals 2017 report, visit

[Photo: UN Photo]