Goalkeepers 2018: the stories behind the data
The Goalkeepers report, published by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is dedicated to accelerating progress towards global goals by empowering a new generation of leaders to increase awareness, hold leaders accountable and inspire action. This year, Goalkeepers focus on youth population growth and how investing in the health and education of young people can unlock productivity and innovation, cut poverty, and generate further prosperity. Progress is possible, but only if we invest in young people’s potential.
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. Watch the event: [Videos of the event]