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The global goals we’ve made progress on – and the ones we haven’t


“We are living in a world that is tantalizingly close to ensuring that no one need die of hunger or malaria or diarrhea,” says economist Michael Green. To help spur progress, back in 2015 the United Nations drew up a set of 17 goals centred around important issues such as health, education and equality.

In this talk, Green shares his analysis on the progress the world, and individual countries have (or haven’t) made toward these Sustainable Development Goals – and offers fresh ideas on how we can achieve them.

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Economist Michael Green explores where progress has been made in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals, and where there has been stagnation, or a decline.

He finds that levels of hunger and basic medical care are broadly improving across the globe. Clean water and sanitation has seen some improvement since the SDGs were introduced in 2015, but at much lower levels. However, on SDGs related to personal rights and inclusiveness, we are performing poorly, with many countries either being stagnant or declining in this regard. These are all measured using the Social Progress Index.

While development can often be an overwhelming topic, Green’s work is helpful in showing us that progress is happening, and working towards higher standards of living is worthwhile. Meanwhile, he also points out what we can do better, and how we must keep improving.

More of Green’s work can be found on the Social Progress Imperative YouTube channel, the Social Progress Imperative website, which offers an interactive map, reports, videos and more data on 180 countries, as well as these TED talks: