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Close the glaring SDG gap

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LAGOS – Will the world achieve the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals for 2030? Or will the SDGs — with their targets for eradicating extreme poverty, ending preventable child deaths, expanding educational opportunity and averting a climate disaster — join the long list of enthusiastically endorsed global pledges that go unfulfilled?

That is the kind of big question that global political and business leaders must ask themselves at gatherings like this past week’s World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

Those suffering from early new-decade SDG blues might take comfort from Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker. Building on the core theme of his influential book “Enlightenment Now,” and citing a familiar barrage of statistics on human progress, Pinker has offered an upbeat assessment: “Progress toward (the SDGs) is continuing,” he wrote. “It is unlikely to do a sudden U-turn.”

He is right, up to a point. Since 2000, there have been extraordinary improvements in human development indicators. Poverty has been decreasing at historically unprecedented rates: The share of the world’s population living on less than $1.90 per day has fallen from 28 percent to 10 percent. The risk of children born in Africa dying before their fifth birthday has been halved, saving millions of young lives. Out-of-school numbers have fallen dramatically and gender gaps in school attendance are shrinking. Over 1.6 billion people have gained access to clean drinking water. Such achievements refute the pessimism that often pervades public debates about aid and international development.

So far so good. But here’s the catch: If progress over the 10 years........

© The Japan Times