The Sustainable Development Goals embody our highest aspirations for a better world – and reflect our greatest responsibility as a global community: To provide children and young people today with the services, skills and opportunities they need tomorrow to build better futures for themselves, their families, and their societies.
This understanding – that a sustainable future depends on how we meet the needs of children and young people today – is at the core of the SDGs, which include 44 child-related indicators integrated throughout the 17 goals. Progress for Every Child in the SDG Era, the first report of UNICEF’s new SDG tracking series, provides a preliminary assessment of how the world is doing thus far on achieving these critical targets.
Even for early days, the outlook the report reveals is foreboding.
Most urgently, UNICEF’s comprehensive report on SDG progress for children reveals that more than 650 million children – approaching one-third of the world’s children – live in 52 countries that are off track on at least two-thirds of the childrelated SDG indicators for which they have data.
The concerns raised by this news are compounded by the fact that these are only the children we know about. The report also reveals that over half a billion of the world’s children live in 64 countries that lack sufficient data for us even to assess if they are on or off track for at least twothirds of all child-related SDG indicators.
This is a critical juncture in the SDG era - a time when the decisions we take and the investments we make can pay enormous dividends – or extract an impossible price. While it would be both counterproductive and premature to predict failure, it is never too soon to calculate its potential costs.