Global Goals

Overview

In 2015, all 193 United Nations Member States agreed to a set of Global Goals (also known as the Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs) designed to advance human dignity while protecting the planet.

The 17 goals and 169 targets are the world’s shared “to-do” list with a 2030 due date: ending preventable diseases like HIV/AIDS and malaria and maternal deaths; improving access to education, food, and sanitation; and promoting gender equality. To achieve the ultimate goal of ending extreme poverty, the private sector, local cities, national governments, and non-profits are working together to strengthen institutions, like rule of law, support access to better work, and combat climate change.

Progress on the SDGs

According to the most recent UN Sustainable Development Goals report, important progress is being made in improving lives. Despite these signs of improvement, however, significant challenges to realizing the Global Goals remain, and on certain indicators, the UN has recorded stagnation or even backsliding.

The most recent UN Sustainable Development Goals report breaks down the successes and challenges that remain:

million children missed out on school meals because of school closures during the pandemic.
379

million children missed out on school meals because of school closures during the pandemic.

Without them, many children go hungry, which also threatens their immune systems and their capacity to cope with disease.

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billion people around the globe were affected by moderate or severe food insecurity in 2019.
2

billion people around the globe were affected by moderate or severe food insecurity in 2019.

Those facing severe food insecurity, around 750 million people, tend to run out of food and, at worst, go days without eating.

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In 2018, 789 million people, 85 percent in rural areas, lacked electricity.

In 2018, 789 million people, 85 percent in rural areas, lacked electricity.

At the current rate of progress to reach universal access to electricity by 2030, a projected 620 million people would still lack access to electricity.

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million children and youth were still out of school in 2018.
258

million children and youth were still out of school in 2018.

Girls face more barriers than boys at the primary level. Globally, around 5.5 million more girls than boys of primary school age were out of school in 2018.

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million people were undernourished in 2019, up by nearly 60 million from 2014.
690

million people were undernourished in 2019, up by nearly 60 million from 2014.

In 2020, up to 132 million more people may suffer from undernourishment because of additional threats to food systems posed by COVID-19.

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In 2017, three out of five people worldwide had a basic hand washing facility with soap and water.

In 2017, three out of five people worldwide had a basic hand washing facility with soap and water.

However, that means that, globally, an estimated 3 billion people are still unable to properly wash their hands at home.

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Globally, 24 million children are at risk of missing out on vaccines.

Globally, 24 million children are at risk of missing out on vaccines.

The COVID-19 crisis has interrupted childhood immunization efforts worldwide. These include vaccines for polio, measles, typhoid, yellow fever, cholera, rotavirus, human papillomavirus (HPV), meningitis A and rubella.

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Women spend three times as many hours in unpaid domestic and care work compared to men.

Women spend three times as many hours in unpaid domestic and care work compared to men.

The latest data from 89 countries from 2001 – 2018, also suggested women with young children spend more time on these activities.

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Currently, one fifth of the Earth’s land area is degraded.

Currently, one fifth of the Earth’s land area is degraded.

Land degradation is undermining the wellbeing of some 3.2 billion people, driving species to extinction and intensifying climate change.

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U.S. Leadership; Not U.S. Law

Given the voluntary nature of the SDGs, perhaps gaps in implementation are to be expected. Indeed, neither the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) nor the Global Goals imposed any legally-binding obligations on Member States. Instead, they provide the international community with a detailed roadmap for achieving progress on a full range of measures related to the well-being of humanity and the planet.

However, the fact that 193 Member States were even able to agree on such a common set of objectives—many of which carry more than a hint of U.S. influence—at all, is itself an achievement. Many companies are also using the framework of the goals and making commitments to achieving them because they know that their business will thrive when we end extreme poverty. Moving forward, it will be incumbent upon the U.S. to remain engaged and use its position of global leadership to help ensure that these lofty, but achievable, standards become more than mere words.

Looking for ways to take action on the Sustainable Development Goals? Click below to write to your Members of Congress about issues that matter to you.

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