24 September 2018: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has launched the 2018 edition of the ‘Goalkeepers Data Report’ charting progress towards the SDGs against 18 indicators. This year’s report highlights ways that young people can help to transform Africa, given the use of promising approaches in health and education. Gates also released the results of a poll of 40,000 people around the world, finding higher levels of optimism about the future.

The Goalkeepers initiative, launched in September 2017, uses stories, data and partnerships to highlight progress towards the Goals, hold governments accountable and foster new leadership. The initiative tracks progress using the following indicators: poverty, stunting, agriculture, maternal mortality, under-five mortality, neonatal mortality, HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, neglected tropical diseases, family planning, universal health coverage, smoking, vaccines, education, gender equality, sanitation, and financial services for the poor. The Gates Foundation has committed to issuing the report every year until 2030.

In the introduction to the 2018 report, Bill and Melinda Gates raise an alarm that “decades of stunning progress in the fight against poverty and disease may be on the verge of stalling,” due to rapid population growth in the poorest parts of the world. They report that extreme poverty is becoming heavily concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nigeria. These two countries will be home to over 40% of the world’s extremely poor people by 2050. Therefore, the Gates write, reducing poverty in Africa should be “the world’s priority for the next three decades.”

However, alleviating poverty in these areas is especially difficult because it is “rooted in violence, political instability, gender inequality, severe climate change, and other deep-seated crises,” and connected to high rates of child mortality and malnutrition. The Gates argue that the solution is to invest in young people’s health and education, enabling them to do innovative work and drive growth as activists, innovators, leaders and workers.

As for how to pursue this investment, the Gates say that on health, children must not only survive but also thrive, including by solving stunting. On education, the next step is to improve the quality of education, building on recent increases in primary school enrollment and girls’ enrollment. They close by arguing that the fate of young people in Africa “will be the single biggest determinant of whether the world makes progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals.”

Following the launch of the 2018 Goalkeepers report, on 24 September, the Gates Foundation released the results of a Goalkeepers poll conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs. The survey queried 40,000 people, ages 12 and older, in 15 countries of all income levels, about their outlook on their personal lives, challenges for their communities and the direction of their countries. The poll finds that:

  • Young people around the world are more optimistic about the future than older generations, with levels of optimism highest in lower- and middle-income countries;
  • Young people in these countries are more likely to believe they can affect the way their countries are governed, and that their generation will have a more positive impact on the world than their parents’ generation; and
  • Progress in the fight against poverty and disease “is being felt in lower- and middle-income countries.”

The Goalkeepers initiative hosts an annual two-day event during the UN’s Global Goals Week to share stories, challenges and ideas for advancing the SDGs. This year’s Goalkeepers event convenes from 25-26 September 2018, in New York, US.

Participants will include: Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway; Emmanuel Macron, President of France; Amina Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary-General; the heads of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF); and numerous activists, advocates and cultural figures. Goalkeepers 2018 will be livestreamed on Gates Foundation’s Facebook channel. [Publication: The Goalkeepers Report] [Goalkeepers website] [Gates press release] [Ipsos press release]

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