Mr. Thomas Gass Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs

The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2016

Good Morning,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very pleased to be with you today for the press briefing of The Sustainable Development Report 2016, officially launched yesterday by the Secretary-General at the Ministerial segment of the High-level Political Forum.

The release of the SDG Report 2016 marks an important milestone as we begin implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Report represents the first official global review of where the world stands at the start of this collective journey. It also signals the completion of the final piece of architecture for implementing the Agenda: the SDG indicators, which were agreed to, as a practical starting point, at the Statistical Commission in March this year.

The indicators were developed by experts representing 28 national statistical systems, through an open, inclusive and transparent process involving all stakeholders.

The Report is built upon official national data provided by Member States to international agencies. It is the result of a collaboration of the entire UN System. It highlights significant gaps and challenges and addresses one of the overarching principles of the agenda, “to leave no one behind”.  It also underlines how important coordinated global data-generated efforts are for supplying reliable and timely data for systematic follow-up and review.

As we embark on this new journey, the report shows that:

  • about 800 million people around the world still live in extreme poverty and hunger;
  • 9 million children die before they reach age 5;
  • 59 million children of primary school age are out of school;
  • 4 billion people still lack improved sanitation facilities; and
  • the births of one in two children under age 5 in the least developed countries go unrecorded.

However, the analysis also shows that with concerted global, regional, national and local efforts, progress is possible.

In fact, much was already achieved through the previous global development agenda – the Millennium Development Goals.

  • The extreme poverty rate was halved from 2002 to 2012.
  • The maternal mortality ratio declined by 44 per cent between 1990 and 2015.
  • The proportion of key biodiversity areas covered by protected areas increased.
  • Official development assistance reached the highest level in 2015.

This time we need to go further.

It is crucial to build a global data ecosystem replete with quality, reliable and timely data. We must ensure that our policies and measures are based on evidence and that reviews and follow-up will look at all dimensions of the agenda … and focus on all people, including those furthest behind who are often uncounted.

Many statistical systems across the globe face serious challenges in addressing the unprecedented amount of data and statistics needed.  A global effort to improve data quality and availability is essential to fulfill our promise to present and future generations.

We have the chance to truly set the world on a different, sustainable path, leaving no one behind. The annual Sustainable Development Goals Report provides an opportunity to reflect on where we are and where we need to focus our efforts to make this ambitious and transformative Agenda a reality for all.

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