2023 has been a significant year for the Global Goals. We reached halftime and we are way down, with only 15% of the goals on track. This year, we have felt the weight of harrowing conflicts and crises across the world, which have made the urgency of progress on the Goals feel more important than ever. Still, we know that with the right determination, resourcing, and solutions we can turn things around. We take a look at some of the proudest Goals achievements from 2023, to show what is possible and motivate us to come back stronger than ever next year:
GOAL 14: Enhanced protection for our oceans
The UN adopted the High Seas Treaty to safeguard the ocean, combat climate change, and preserve biodiversity in the high seas.
The treaty could not have come sooner, with the UN predicting that there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050 if plastic pollution continues at its current rate.
This landmark achievement means the high seas now have added protection from these destructive trends – including pollution and unsustainable fishing activities.
GOAL 3: More lives saved from malaria
A second malaria vaccine was approved by the World Health Organization, marking a significant triumph for the Global Goals, enhancing our arsenal against a deadly disease and bringing us closer to achieving health and well-being for all.
The vaccine has been shown to be both safe and effective in preventing malaria in children and when implemented broadly is expected to have a high public health impact – particularly in the African Region where nearly half a million children die from the disease each year.
GOALS 4 and 5: More girls in school, for longer
Brand new UNESCO data revealed that 50 million more girls have been enrolled in school globally since 2015. There are also 5 million more girls completing each level of education from primary to upper secondary education.
This progress is a motivating call for world leaders to continue to increase efforts over the coming years, and ensure that the 122 million girls out of school today have the chance to learn.
GOAL 13: Landmark win for climate justice
In a historic referendum, Ecuadorian voters stopped oil drilling in Yasuní National Park, a UNESCO biosphere reserve and one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet.
The reserve is home to two of the world’s last “uncontacted” Indigenous communities living in voluntary isolation, making this a big win for global climate justice and indigenous peoples alike.
GOAL 17: Cross-sector collaboration
This year partners from across sectors came together to #ImagineWinning at Halftime for the Global Goals. Together, they supported the creation of the SDG Pavilion – a first at the UN and an incredible demonstration of cross-sector collaboration for the Goals.
What to watch in 2024
We know that AI holds huge potential for progress across all the goals over the next 7 years. From forecasting extreme weather events to responding to disease outbreaks and building the infrastructure for a transition to clean energy – experts estimate that AI could contribute to 80% of the SDGs and their targets. Watch this space for more on how we can seize the power of AI to ensure it delivers big wins for the goals in 2024 and beyond.
At the end of 2023, only two Goal 5 indicators are “close to target” and none are at the “target met or almost met” level. And yet gender equality is crucial to the success of every single Goal. More funding, cross sector collaboration and policy action to break down disparity and empower women and girls are needed to ensure the success that will underpin progress on all the Goals. In 2024 we’ll continue to shine a light on progress and challenges with a close eye on key moments for Goal 5 such as the Commission on the Status of Women in March and the representation of women during the biggest election year in history – when more than 70 elections will take place in 40 countries – as well as sharing experience and learnings from key Goal 5 experts and advocates throughout the year.
All these incredible innovations and achievements could not have happened without the right funding behind them. We know that if we are to achieve the Goals by 2030 we need global financial reform, including big changes in international institutions, like the World Bank. This year saw a welcome step forward, as the World Bank expanded its mandate to climate change, demonstrating a holistic commitment to address interconnected challenges like poverty alleviation and climate action. However, the Bank has a long way to go in order to upgrade itself for the 21st Century. This includes streamlining its loan approvals system, reducing interest rates for low-income countries and making more grants available to the Global South. Over the next year we will be focusing on ensuring that the World Bank continues this process of reform – to become Better first, then Bigger.
We know what we’ve got to do and this year, we’ve seen a renewed commitment to the Goals at Halftime, as shown by these incredible achievements. Let’s harness that momentum as we move into the Second Half, so that together we can make the change we need!