While nearly a billion people have escaped extreme poverty since 1999, about 767 remained destitute in 2013, most of whom live in fragile situations. Despite major advances, an alarmingly high number of children under age 5 are still affected by malnutrition. In 2016, an estimated 155 million children under 5 years of age were stunted (low height for their age). Between 2000 and 2015, the global maternal mortality ratio declined by 37 per cent and the under-5 mortality rate fell by 44 per cent. However, 303,000 women died during pregnancy or childbirth and 5.9 million children under age 5 died worldwide in 2015.
In the area of sustainable energy, while access to clean fuels and technologies for cooking climbed to 57 per cent in 2014, up from 50 per cent in 2000, more than 3 billion people, lacked access to clean cooking fuels and technologies, which led to an estimated 4.3 million deaths in 2012. From 2015 to 2016, official development assistance (ODA) rose by 8.9 per cent in real terms to 142.6 billion US dollars, reaching a new peak. But bilateral aid to the least developing countries fell by 3.9 per cent in real terms.
Progress is uneven
The benefits of development are not equally shared. On average, women spent almost triple the amount of time on unpaid domestic and care work as men, based on data from 2010-2016. Economic losses from natural hazards are now reaching an average of 250 billion to 300 billion US dollars a year, with a disproportionate impact on small and vulnerable countries. Despite the global unemployment rate falling from 6.1 per cent in 2010 to 5.7 per cent in 2016, youth were nearly three times more likely than adults to be without a job. In 2015, 85 per cent of the urban population used safely managed drinking water services, compared to only 55 per cent of rural population.
“Empowering vulnerable groups is critical to ending poverty and promoting prosperity for everyone, everywhere,”stated Mr. Wu Hongbo, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs.
Harnessing the power of data
Effectively tracking progress on the SDGs requires accessible, reliable, timely and disaggregated data at all levels, which poses a major challenge to national and international statistical systems. While data availability and quality have steadily improved over the years, statistical capacity still needs strengthening worldwide. The global statistical community is working to modernize and strengthen statistical systems to address all aspects of production and use of data for the SDGs.
About the Report
The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2017 is the annual assessment of global and regional progress towards the Goals. The report is based on latest available data on selected indicators of the global SDG indicator framework, prepared by UN DESA with inputs from a large number of international and regional organizations.
Source: UN DESA
Had this story been happening in present-day Libya, where Alaa Murabit’s parents come from, it could’ve had a very grim ending. In 2015 alone, 303,000 women around the world died during pregnancy or childbirth. That same year saw close to six million children under the age of five perish. That’s over 800 mothers and 16,000 small children dying every day.
Alaa was lucky. She was born in Canada, a country with universal healthcare. “Within minutes I was in a hospital where they took my vitals and made sure I was OK,” she said.
She was even luckier to have supportive, open-minded parents who treated her and her brothers equally and who encouraged her career in medicine. “[My mother’s] definition of leadership was to nurture the necessary confidence and build the skills for her daughters to make their own decisions,” Alaa would later write.
Spurred on by her mother’s example, Alaa Murabit became a vocal activist for women’s rights and universal healthcare. Her initiatives, such as the groundbreaking “Noor Campaign”, which uses Islamic teaching to combat violence against women, are replicated internationally.
Last year, she became the youngest of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals Advocates – a group of eminent personalities who are helping the UN Secretary General to encourage action and commitments for the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals – the SDGs.
This week, Alaa Murabit is in New York for the High-Level Political Forum – an annual meeting to review progress made by countries towards achieving the SDGs. Her message to government officials and other stakeholders is as simple as it is strong: empower women to participate in sustainable development or fail.
“[Only when we] start having honest conversations about the impact that women and girls have on our communities and on this agenda, and the importance of our governments to resource that (…), that’s when we’re going to see legitimate change,” she told ministers and other high-level delegates on Monday.
In Tuesday’s SDGLive interview, she said it was understandable that countries focus more on some SDGs than others, depending on their priorities and capacities. But there are three goals, which according to her underpin the entire 2030 Agenda and where failure is simply not an option.
“The three areas we cannot overlook (…) are education, healthcare and gender equality. Those are the three areas that, when they intersect, can completely transform the world,” she said.
Alaa Murabit is convinced that the only path to achieve the SDGs leads through the economic and social empowerment of women and girls, and through ensuring that they have access to education.
“Data (…) backs up the fact that women and girls really are the key to seeing this agenda come to fruition,” she said in her SDGLive talk.
“If you talk about climate change action [for example], the most cost-effective and practical solution to climate change is the combination of girls’ education and women’s reproductive rights,” she added.
She quoted estimates, according to which equal education and employment opportunities for women and girls would result in a global economic growth greater than that of China and India combined. “We have to realize there is an untapped resource and the only way we can really leverage that is through education and through economic empowerment,” she said.
During the brutal conflict, which erupted in Libya at the beginning of this decade, Alaa called for women and local leaders to be allowed active participation in the peace process. In her new role of SDG Advocate, she remains a fervent champion of genuine women empowerment.
“We so often instrumentalize women,” she said. (…) “We very rarely empower and allow for women to be able to architect their own projects. And the one way, in which we can actually do that, is through economic empowerment, because we know that when women are economically empowered they re‑invest 90 per cent into their community. And the vast majority of that 90 per cent goes into health and education, so you’re completely transforming that landscape for future generations.”
But despite the wealth of data that supports empowerment and a broader participation of women in SDGs implementation, Alaa Murabit doesn’t see enough progress by countries in that field. “We need to start asking ourselves why, two years in we still haven’t really taken on this agenda as much as we can.”
To Alaa Murabit, the answer is simple: “Without women and girls, this agenda is not going to see the light of day – not even a little bit.”
The implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is well underway, and cooperative businesses remain one of the best-kept secrets in the SDG toolbox. Cooperative enterprises are based on ethics, values, and a set of seven fundamental principles that keep people, rather than profit, at the centre of their businesses. Cooperatives can be a self-help tool for people to create their own economic opportunities through the power of the collective and pull themselves out of poverty. They re-invest in the communities in which they operate, securing not only the livelihoods of their members but also increasing the wealth of the community as a whole. By being sources of decent work, spaces for democracy and peace building, and an economic force (the top 300 cooperatives alone generate 2.5 trillion USD in annual turnover, more than the GDP of France), cooperatives are truly a partner in transforming our world.
How exactly are these people-centred, values-based enterprises helping to eradicate poverty and promote prosperity? How are they reaching those most at risk for being left behind? And what can governments, civil society, and the UN system do to better support cooperatives in their mission to build a better world?
To answer these questions and share cooperative solutions for inclusive development, the Committee for the Promotion and Advancement of Cooperatives (COPAC) will host the observance of the 2017 International Day of Cooperatives during the High-level Political Forum, on 14 July from 1.15 to 2.30 p.m., Conference Room 4, United Nations Headquarters, New York.
The 2017 International Day of Cooperatives will focus on ‘inclusion’ under the theme ‘Co-operatives ensure no one is left behind’, which complements the priority theme of the 2017 High-level Political Forum for Sustainable Development: ‘Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world’.
The event will feature high-level speakers from COPAC’s membership, co-operatives in the field, and Permanent Representations to the UN. Participants will be invited to engage in an interactive discussion with our speakers and to enjoy the debut of COPAC’s video ‘Cooperatives ensure no one is left behind’.
COPAC is a multi-stakeholder partnership of global public and private institutions that promotes and advances people-centred, self-sustaining cooperative enterprises, guided by the principles of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental – in all aspects of its work. The Committee’s current members are the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Co-operative Alliance, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and the World Farmers’ Organisation.
There are many ways to celebrate the International Day of Co-operatives:
The meeting of the high-level political forum on sustainable development in 2017 convened under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council, will be held from Monday, 10 July, to Wednesday, 19 July 2017; including the three-day ministerial meeting of the forum from Monday, 17 July, to Wednesday, 19 July 2017.
The theme will be “Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world“. The set of goals to be reviewed in depth will be the following, including Goal 17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development, that will be considered each year:
In accordance with paragraph 84. of the 2030 Agenda, Member States have decided that the HLPF shall carry out regular voluntary reviews of the 2030 Agenda which will include developed and developing countries as well as relevant UN entities and other stakeholders. The reviews will be state-led, involving ministerial and other relevant high-level participants, and provide a platform for partnerships, including through the participation of major groups and other relevant stakeholders.
In 2017, 44 countries have volunteered to present their national voluntary reviews to the HLPF. For more details, please click here.
Entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship led by young women and men, has shown increased potential in responding to prevalent social and economic challenges. Driven by their responsiveness to current trends and opportunities, entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs are key drivers of change for the development of peaceful and resilient communities.
Enterprises and social enterprises led by young women and men not only trigger the necessary momentum for local innovation and sustainable development, but can also contribute to direct and indirect job creation, especially through the peer-to-peer support they facilitate, they can reduce the social gap of inequalities as well as contribute to economic growth and the creation of sustainable inclusive and equitable societies.
In light of this, UNDESA’s Division for Social Policy and Development – in collaboration with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the United for All Peoples (UP),
with the support of the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development-NY and the participation of Disabled Peoples International (DPI) and the Manhattan Multicultural Counseling (MMC) – are organizing a special event during the 2017 High Level Political Forum (HLPF) on “Youth in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) for achieving peace and positive social change for all”, 14 July, 9-10:30 a.m. in conference room 8, United Nations Headquarters, New York.
The event aims to discuss how the academic fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) can contribute to the empowerment of youth – with a special focus on young women and girls – by eliminating the gender gap in education and skill-development, and by providing equal employment opportunities, as a strategy to reduce overall inequalities, eradicate poverty and promote peace and prosperity for all. Furthermore, the event seeks to recognize the role that young women and men in STEM are playing in our society and in the achievement of the SDGs, thus functioning as drivers of peace and prosperity.
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