Global Development on the World Stage: What to Expect at UNGA 2019

September 20, 2019 By Zach Wehrli

As representatives from nearly 200 countries gather in New York for the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), the development community will be watching closely to see where global development ranks in a world of competing priorities. But there’s some good news for advocates. This year, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – 17 ambitious targets UN member states have committed to reaching by 2030 – will take center stage more than once, giving SDG watchers plenty to look out for over the coming week:

  • SDG Summit, 9/24: This year will mark the first United Nations SDG summit at the heads-of-state level since their adoption four years ago. The dialogue could also spur action by civil society organizations and the UN to drive greater investment on the SDGs in 2020.
  • Financing the SDGs, 9/26: The SDG summit will be followed-up by the first high-level dialogue on financing for the SDGs since 2015. Public and private sector leaders are expected to weigh in on ways to leverage more resources for global development.

Outside the official UN dialogue, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will also host its third annual Goalkeepers event—bringing together world leaders to discuss the 2019 Goalkeepers Report, an annual report card created by the Foundation to monitor the world’s progress toward the SDGs.

This year’s report, Examining Inequality, explores the ways in which factors like governance, fragility, geography, demographics, and socioeconomics contribute to global inequality and provides an update on the significant progress made toward achieving the SDGs.

  • Under-Five Mortality: In 1990, there were 82 deaths per 1,000 live births. Today, that number has fallen to 37.
  • Global Poverty: In 1990, 36% of the population lived below the international poverty line. Today, just 8% of the population lives on less than $1.90 a day.

Despite this progress, however, the report also warns that the fight is far from over. A new global progress indicator provides insight into how our investments today will determine our success on critical indicators in the year 2030.

  • Malaria: While new cases of Malaria have dropped marginally since 1990 – from 37 to 29 per 1,000 people – increasing our investments in global health could reduce the number of cases to just 6 by 2030.
  • HIV: Unfortunately, HIV is a drastic example of what could happen if our commitment to global health falters. If we fail to ramp up investments in HIV treatment and prevention today, we could see higher rates of infection in 2030 than we saw in 1990.

The 2019 Goalkeepers report makes it clear that the stakes have never been higher when it comes to the SDGs, and this year’s UNGA schedule is a promising sign that world leaders might heed its warning.