Leaving no one behind

In committing to the realization of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Member States recognized that the dignity of the individual is fundamental and that the Agenda’s Goals and targets should be met for all nations and people and for all segments of society. Furthermore, they endeavoured to reach first those who are furthest behind.

Ensuring that these commitments are translated into effective action requires a precise understanding of target populations. However, the disaggregated data needed to address all vulnerable groups – including children, youth, persons with disabilities, people living with HIV, older persons, indigenous peoples, refugees, internally displaced persons and migrants – as specified in the 2030 Agenda, are sparse. Few of the current indicators, for example, are able to shed light on the particular situations of migrants, refugees, older persons, persons with disabilities, minorities and indigenous peoples.

Even from the limited data currently available, however, it is clear that the benefits of development are not equally shared. The following examples show how data broken down by age, sex, income level, and location of residence can highlight differences among various population groups.

Young men face the highest risk of becoming murder victims and suspected perpetrators

The world today is home to 1.8 billion people between the ages of 10 and 24 – all of whom face unique and sometimes overwhelming challenges. Young people are over-represented among the direct and indirect victims of violence. Some 200,000 homicides each year – 43 per cent of all homicides globally – involve children and adults aged 10 to 29 years. Young men have the highest risk of becoming homicide victims and the highest rates, by far, of being suspected homicide perpetrators.
Children are among those most affected by human trafficking and, in several regions, they make up the majority of trafficking victims. In sub-Saharan Africa and South-Eastern Asia, children comprise 65 per cent and 57 per cent, respectively, of total human trafficking victims.
In 2015, the global youth unemployment rate (among people aged 15 to 24) was 15 per cent – more than three times the rate for adults (4.6 per cent). In Northern Africa and Western Asia, the youth unemployment rate reached 46 per cent and 31 per cent, respectively.

Homicide victims and perpetrators per 100,000 people, by sex and age, 2014 *
* 2014 or latest year for which data are available.

In every developing region, the poorest women are least likely to have a skilled attendant during delivery

In Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, fewer than 30 per cent of births among women in the poorest 20 per cent of households are attended by skilled health personnel, compared to over 80 per cent of births in the richest 20 per cent of households. Globally in 2015, births in the richest 20 per cent of households were more than twice as likely to be attended by skilled health personnel as those in the poorest 20 per cent of households (89 per cent versus 43 per cent).
Severe income inequality also affects other aspects of sustainable development. Survey data from 63 developing countries for 2008−2012 show that children from the poorest households are nearly four times more likely to be out of school than their counterparts from the richest households. An analysis of 87 countries with survey data from 2005−2014 suggests that children from the poorest households are more than twice as likely to be stunted as their richest peers.

Proportion of births attended by skilled health personnel in the poorest 20 per cent and richest 20 per cent of households, by region, 2000−2010 or 2015 (percentage)

People in rural areas are short-changed when it comes to many health-related services

Health systems tend to be weakest in rural and remote areas, with lower rates of health service coverage than in urban centres. For example, while over 90 per cent of births in urban areas are attended by skilled health personnel, the share is only 72 per cent for rural areas. The demand satisfied for family planning shows a similar pattern, with over 70 per cent of the urban population reporting that their needs in family planning are met, versus 60 per cent in rural areas. Finally, improved drinking water sources and sanitation facilities are both more prevalent in urban than in rural areas. The differences are even more pronounced when considering piped water: 79 per cent of urban inhabitants have water piped to their homes or premises in contrast to one third of the rural population.

Skilled birth attendance, demand for family planning satisfied with modern methods, population using an improved drinking water source and population using improved sanitation facilities, by urban and rural areas, 2015* (percentage)
* 2015 or latest year for which data are available.

People in least developed countries are twice as likely to be undernourished as people in developing regions as a whole

Persistent inequalities are also found among groups of countries in special situations. For example, the prevalence of undernourishment is substantially higher in least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States than in the developing regions as a whole.

Prevalence of undernourishment for selected groups of countries, 2014-2016 (percentage)