Medical Health Cluster

20 septiembre, 2022

The Future of Progress

In 2015, leaders from 193 countries agreed to the Sustainable Development Goals—the SDGs. These were big, bold objectives we wanted to achieve by 2030, everything from ending poverty to achieving gender equality. And each year, this report attempts to answer the question, “How is the world doing?” We want people to grasp what the numbers say about the trajectory of human progress.

But this year, we think it’s just as important that people understand what the numbers cannot say about progress.

Because there are two important things no data point in this report fully reflects: crisis and innovation.

When development experts around the world hammered out the SDGs seven years ago, they had no idea that in four years’ time, a novel virus would jump into the human population, sparking a once-in-a-century pandemic. They didn’t anticipate that wars would begin in Ukraine or Yemen—or that from Afghanistan to the United States, the rights of women would be hurled back decades.

As it stands now, we’d need to speed up the pace of our progress five times faster to meet most of our goals—and even that might be an underestimate, because some of the projections don’t yet account for the impact of the pandemic, let alone the war in Ukraine or the food crisis it kicked off in Africa.

As bad as the data makes it seem, the real situation might be even worse.

Or it might be better.

Because what’s also not reflected in the numbers is the potential for human ingenuity.

No projection can ever account for the possibility of game-changing innovation because when those breakthroughs happen, they change all the fundamental assumptions embedded in that equation. The math breaks down (in a good way).

Look what happened with HIV.

Before the Sustainable Development Goals, there were the Millennium Development Goals—the MDGs—and one was reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS. This seemed impossible at the time, but thanks to the hard work and ingenuity of a coalition of advocates, governments, and others, we rapidly accelerated progress. From 2000 to 2020, we saw a nearly 60% reduction in yearly deaths.

We believe it’s possible that one day we will look back at the data in this report the same way we look at the AIDS data from the turn of the millennium: in disbelief at how quickly and dramatically things turned around.

Créditos: Comité científico Covid

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