This inaugural report on the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is a first accounting of where the world stands at the start of our collective journey to 2030. The report analyses selected indicators from the global indicator framework for which data are available as examples to highlight some critical gaps and challenges. The list of SDG indicators, agreed upon by the UN Statistical Commission in March 2016, will be subject to refinements and improvements as methods and data availability improve.

Every journey has a beginning and an end. Plotting that journey and establishing key milestones along the way requires accessible, timely and reliable disaggregated data. The data requirements for the global indicators are almost as unprecedented as the SDGs themselves, and constitute a tremendous challenge to all countries. Nevertheless, fulfilling these requirements through building national statistical capacity is an essential step in establishing where we are now, charting a way forward, and bringing our collective vision closer to reality.

Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere

Goal 1 calls for an end to poverty in all its manifestations, including extreme poverty, over the next 15 years. All people everywhere, including the poorest and most vulnerable, should enjoy a basic standard of living and social protection benefits.

  • The proportion of the global population living below the extreme poverty line dropped by half between 2002 and 2012, from 26 to 13 per cent. This translated to one in eight people worldwide living in extreme poverty in 2012. Poverty remains widespread in sub-Saharan Africa, where more than 40 per cent of people lived on less than 1.90 US dollars a day in 2012.
  • In 2015, 10 per cent of the world’s workers and their families were living on less than 1.90 US dollars per person per day, down from 28 per cent in 2000.
  • Young people aged 15 to 24 are most likely to be among the working poor: 16 per cent of all employed youth were living below the poverty line in 2015, compared to 9 per cent of working adults.
  • About one in five people received any type of social assistance or social protection benefits in low-income countries compared with two in three people in upper-middle-income countries.

Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture

Goal 2 seeks to end hunger and all forms of malnutrition and to achieve sustainable food production by 2030. It is premised on the idea that everyone should have access to sufficient nutritious food, which will require widespread promotion of sustainable agriculture, a doubling of agricultural productivity, increased investments and properly functioning food markets.

  • The proportion of the population suffering from hunger declined globally from 15 per cent in 2000-2002 to 11 per cent in 2014-2016. However, nearly 800 million people worldwide still lack access to adequate food.
  • More than half of the adult population in sub-Saharan Africa faced moderate or severe food insecurity in 2015; the level was severe for one-quarter of adults in the region.
  • One in four children under age 5 had stunted growth in 2014—an estimated 158.6 million children.
  • The share of overweight children under age 5 increased by nearly 20 per cent between 2000 and 2014. Approximately 41 million children in this age group worldwide were overweight in 2014; almost half of them lived in Asia.

Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

Goal 3 aims to ensure health and well-being for all at all ages by improving reproductive, maternal and child health; ending the epidemics of major communicable diseases; reducing non-communicable and environmental diseases; achieving universal health coverage; and ensuring access to safe, affordable and effective medicines and vaccines for all.

  • Between 1990 and 2015, the global maternal mortality ratio declined by 44 per cent, and the mortality rate of children under age 5 fell by more than half. Still, an estimated 5.9 million children under 5 died in 2015, mostly from preventable causes.
  • The incidence of HIV, malaria and tuberculosis declined globally between 2000 and 2015. However, in 2015, 2.1 million people became newly infected with HIV, and an estimated 214 million people contracted malaria. Almost half the world’s population is at risk of malaria, but sub-Saharan Africa accounted for 89 per cent of all cases in 2015.
  • Worldwide in 2015, approximately three in four women of reproductive age (15 to 49 years) who were married or in a union satisfied their need for family planning by using modern contraceptive methods.
  • In 2012, almost two-thirds of deaths from non-communicable diseases in people under age 70 were attributed to cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

Goal 4 focuses on the acquisition of foundational and higher-order skills; greater and more equitable access to technical and vocational education and training and higher education; training throughout life; and the knowledge, skills and values needed to function well and contribute to society.

  • In 2013, 59 million children of primary school age were out of school.
  • Surveys from 63 low- and middle-income countries between 2008 and 2012 show that children from the poorest 20 per cent of households are more than four times as likely to be out of school as their richest peers.
  • Data from 38 countries in developed regions show that, in the majority of these countries, 75 per cent or more of young people had at least minimum proficiency in reading and/or mathematics; the same was true for only 5 of the 22 developing countries with data.
  • In 2013, there were still 757 million adults (aged 15 and over) unable to read and write, of whom two-thirds were women.

Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

Goal 5 aims to empower women and girls to reach their full potential, which requires eliminating all forms of discrimination and violence against them, including harmful practices. It seeks to ensure that they have every opportunity for sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights; receive due recognition for their unpaid work; have full access to productive resources; and enjoy equal participation with men in political, economic and public life.

  • Globally, the proportion of women aged 20 to 24 who reported that they were married before their eighteenth birthdays dropped from 32 per cent around 1990 to 26 per cent around 2015.
  • In 30 countries where the practice of female genital mutilation is concentrated, more than a third of girls aged 15 to 19 have undergone the procedure.
  • Based on time-use surveys conducted between 2000 and 2014 in 59 countries, women said they spend 19 per cent of their time each day on unpaid labour versus 8 per cent for men.
  • The proportion of seats held by women in single or lower houses of parliament rose to 23 per cent in 2016—a rise of 6 percentage points over the last decade.

Goal 6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

Goal 6 goes beyond drinking water, sanitation and hygiene to also address the quality and sustainability of water resources. Achieving this Goal, which is critical to the survival of people and the planet, means expanding international cooperation and garnering the support of local communities in improving water and sanitation management.

  • In 2015, 6.6 billion people, or 91 per cent of the global population, used an improved drinking water source, compared with 82 per cent in 2000. However, in 2015 an estimated 663 million people were still using unimproved sources or surface water.
  • Between 2000 and 2015, the proportion of the global population using improved sanitation increased from 59 per cent to 68 per cent. However, 2.4 billion were left behind. Among them were 946 million people without any facilities at all who continue to practise open defecation.
  • Water stress affects more than 2 billion people around the globe, a figure that is projected to rise.
  • Integrated Water Resources Management plans are under way in every region of the world.

Goal 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

Goal 7 seeks to promote broader energy access and increased use of renewable energy, including through enhanced international cooperation and expanded infrastructure and technology for clean energy.

  • The proportion of the global population with access to electricity increased steadily, from 79 per cent in 2000 to 85 per cent in 2012. Despite these improvements, 1.1 billion people were still without this essential service in 2012.
  • In 2014, some 3 billion people, over 40 per cent of the world’s population, relied on polluting and unhealthy fuels for cooking.
  • Modern renewables grew rapidly, at a rate of 4 per cent a year between 2010 and 2012.
  • Global energy intensity improved by 1.3 per cent a year from 2000 to 2012. About 68 per cent of the energy savings between 2010 and 2012 came from developing regions, with Eastern Asia as the largest contributor.

Goal 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all

Continued, inclusive and sustainable economic growth is a prerequisite for global prosperity. Goal 8 aims to provide opportunities for full and productive employment and decent work for all while eradicating forced labour, human trafficking and child labour.

  • The average annual growth rate of real gross domestic product (GDP) per capita in the least developed countries (LDCs) declined from 4.7 per cent over the period 2005-2009 to 2.6 per cent in 2010-2014. This was less than half the target rate of 7 per cent per year.
  • While labour productivity increased in the developing regions from 2005 to 2015, the value for developed regions was still more than twice that of any developing region, and around 20 times greater than the values for sub-SaharanAfrica and Southern Asia.
  • In 2015, the unemployment rate for women was 6.7 per cent versus 5.8 per cent for men. Gender disparities were most striking in Western Asia and Northern Africa, where the unemployment rate of women was more than twice that of men.
  • While the share of adults with bank accounts rose by 20 per cent in four years, some 2 billion people still lack this important financial service.

Goal 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation

Goal 9 focuses on the promotion of infrastructure development, industrialization and innovation. This can be accomplished through enhanced international and domestic financial, technological and technical support, research and innovation, and increased access to information and communication technology.

  • In 2015, manufacturing value added per capita was less than 100 US dollars a year in the LDCs versus nearly 5,000 US dollars in developed regions.
  • Globally, energy efficiency and cleaner fuels and technologies reduced carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per unit of value added by 13 per cent from 2000 to 2013.
  • In 2013, global investment in research and development (R&D) stood at 1.7 trillion US dollars (purchasing power parity, PPP), up from 732 billion US dollars in 2000. Developed regions dedicated almost 2.4 per cent of their GDP to R&D in 2013, while the average for LDCs and landlocked developing countries was less than 0.3 per cent.
  • Third-generation (3G) mobile-broadband covered 89 per cent of the urban population but only 29 per cent of the rural population in 2015.

Goal 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries

Goal 10 calls for reducing inequalities in income, as well as those based on sex, age, disability, race, class, ethnicity, religion and opportunity—both within and among countries. It also aims to ensure safe, orderly and regular migration and addresses issues related to representation of developing countries in global decision-making and development assistance.

  • In 56 out of 94 countries with data for the period 2007-2012, the per capita income of the poorest 40 per cent of households grew more rapidly than the national average.
  • The share of imports from the least developed and developing countries entering developed countries duty-free increased between 2000 to 2014, from 70 to 84 per cent and from 65 to 79 per cent, respectively.
  • The cost of sending money across international borders averaged 7.5 per cent of the amount remitted in 2015, more than double the target rate of 3 per cent.

Goal 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

Goal 11 aims to renew and plan cities and other human settlements in a way that fosters community cohesion and personal security while stimulating innovation and employment.

  • In 2014, 880 million people lived in urban slums, or 30 per cent of the global urban population, compared to 39 per cent in 2000.
  • In many burgeoning cities around the world, populations are moving outwards, far beyond administrative boundaries.
  • In 2014, about half the urban population globally was exposed to air pollution levels at least 2.5 times above the standard of safety set by the World Health Organization.
  • As of 2015, 142 countries were developing national-level urban policies; of these, 82 countries were already in the process of implementation and 23 had reached the monitoring and evaluation stage.

Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

Goal 12 aims to promote sustainable consumption and production patterns through measures such as specific policies and international agreements on the management of materials that are toxic to the environment.

  • In 2010, the material footprint per unit of GDP (amount of primary materials used) of developed regions stood at 23.6 kilograms per unit of GDP, compared with 14.5 kilograms per unit of GDP in developing regions.
  • That same year, domestic material consumption per capita in developed regions was 72 per cent higher than in developing regions.
  • With six exceptions, all Member States of the United Nations are party to at least one of the conventions (Basel, Rotterdam or Stockholm) dedicated to the management of hazardous wastes and other chemicals.

Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

Climate change presents the single biggest threat to development, and its widespread, unprecedented effects disproportionately burden the poorest and the most vulnerable. Urgent action is needed not only to combat climate change and its impacts, but also to build resilience in responding to climate-related hazards and natural disasters.

  • In April 2016, 175 Member States signed the historic Paris Agreement, which sets the stage for ambitious climate action by all to ensure that global temperatures rise no more than 2 degrees Celsius.
  • An average of 83,000 people died and 211 million were affected each year as a result of natural disasters occurring from 2000 to 2013.
  • In 2015, only 83 countries reportedly had legislative and/or regulatory provisions in place for managing disaster risk.

Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development

This Goal seeks to promote the conservation and sustainable use of marine and coastal ecosystems, prevent marine pollution and increase the economic benefits to small island developing States and LDCs from the sustainable use of marine resources.

  • Marine resources are particularly important for people living in coastal communities, who represented 37 per cent of the world's population in 2010.
  • The proportion of global marine fish stocks within biologically sustainable levels declined from 90 per cent in 1974 to 69 per cent in 2013.
  • In 2014, 8.4 per cent of the marine environment under national jurisdiction (up to 200 nautical miles from shore) was under protection. From 2000 to 2016, the share of marine key biodiversity areas that were completely covered by protected areas increased from 15 per cent to 19 per cent.
  • The five large marine ecosystems most at risk from coastal eutrophication are the Bay of Bengal, East China Sea, Gulf of Mexico, North Brazil Shelf and South China Sea—areas that provided ecosystem services for coastal populations totalling 781 million in 2010.

Goal 15: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss

Goal 15 focuses on managing forests sustainably, restoring degraded lands and successfully combating desertification, reducing degraded natural habitats and ending biodiversity loss. All of these efforts in combination will help ensure that livelihoods are preserved for those that depend directly on forests and other ecosystems, that biodiversity will thrive, and that the benefits of these natural resources will be enjoyed for generations to come.

  • Global net loss in forest area declined from 7.3 million hectares per year in the 1990s to 3.3 million hectares per year during the period 2010-2015.
  • The percentage of global terrestrial, inland freshwater and mountain key biodiversity areas covered by protected areas increased from 16.5 per cent to 19.3 per cent, 13.8 per cent to 16.6 per cent and 18.1 per cent to 20.1 per cent, respectively, from 2000 to 2016.
  • As of 2015, over 23,000 species of plants, fungi and animals were known to face a high probability of extinction. Human activities are causing species extinctions at rates three orders of magnitude higher than those normal throughout the Earth’s history.
  • Since 1999, at least 7,000 species of animals and plants have been detected in illegal trade affecting 120 countries.

Goal 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

Goal 16 envisages peaceful and inclusive societies based on respect for human rights, the rule of law, good governance at all levels, and transparent, effective and accountable institutions. Many countries still face protracted violence and armed conflict, and far too many people are poorly supported by weak institutions and lack access to justice, information and other fundamental freedoms.

  • Between 2008 and 2014, the homicide rate in developing countries was twice that of developed countries.
  • At the peak in 2011, 34 per cent of the victims of human trafficking at the global level were children, up from 13 per cent in 2004.
  • Globally, 30 per cent of people held in detention over the period 2012-2014 had not been sentenced.
  • The births of more than one in four children under age 5 worldwide go unrecorded. In the LDCs, one in two children have not been registered by their fifth birthdays.

Goal 17: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development

The 2030 Agenda requires a revitalized and enhanced global partnership that mobilizes all available resources from Governments, civil society, the private sector, the United Nations system and other actors. Increasing support to developing countries, in particular LDCs, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States is fundamental to equitable progress for all.

  • Official development assistance totalled 131.6 billion US dollars in 2015, which was 6.9 per cent higher in real terms than in 2014 and represents the highest level ever reached.
  • The debt service to export ratio fell significantly over the period 2000-2012, dropping from 11.7 in 2000 to under 2.7 in 2012.
  • In 2015, fixed-broadband Internet penetration reached 29 per cent in developed regions, but only 7.1 per cent in developing regions and 0.5 per cent in LDCs.
  • Although the share of LDC merchandise exports in total exports nearly doubled from 2000 to 2014, it still represented only a small fraction of global exports in 2014, at 1.1 per cent.
  • Ninety per cent of all countries and 88 per cent of developing countries conducted population and housing censuses over the period 2006-2015, a key source of essential data.

Ensuring that no one is left behind

In launching 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 will endeavour to reach first those who are furthest behind. Going beyond rhetoric in this regard will be no simple matter because disaggregated data tell us that the benefits of development are far from equally shared.

  • In 2015, the youth unemployment rate (among people aged 15 to 24) globally was 15 per cent—more than three times the rate for adults (4.6 per cent).
  • 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).
  • Children from the poorest households are more than twice as likely to be stunted as their richest peers.
  • Almost 80 per cent of urban inhabitants have access to piped water versus one-third of the rural population.
  • The LDCs, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States all reported a prevalence of undernourishment that was substantially higher than that of developing regions as a whole (13.6, 9.8 and 5.1 percentage points higher, respectively) in 2014-2016.

Leaving no one behind is the overarching principle of the 2030 Agenda. However, without data and indicators that address specific groups within a population, including the most vulnerable, full implementation of the commitments made in the SDGs will not be possible. A global effort to improve data availability and use, including through improvements in the integration of data sources, has already begun. But much work lies ahead. The global statistical community stands ready to transform and modernize the way this work is undertaken in order to fully meet current needs and to fulfil our promise to present and future generations.

Wu Hongbo Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs