Maverick Citizen

THE FUTURE OF PROGESS

Global gender equality only by 2108, says sixth annual Goalkeepers Report projection

Global gender equality only by 2108, says sixth annual Goalkeepers Report projection
A sand art performance by French artist Sam Dougados representing G7 leaders (L-R, Boris Johnson, Justin Trudeau, Giuseppe Conte, Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel, Shinzo Abe and Donald Trump) for the ONE Campaign to promote gender equality is displayed at the Plage de la Côte des Basques on the eve of the G7 summit in Biarritz, France, 23 August 2019. The G7 Summit runs from 24 to 26 August in Biarritz. EPA-EFE/JULIEN DE ROSA

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation released its sixth annual Goalkeepers Report on Tuesday and warned that progress towards the United Nations Development Goals was being stalled due to the successive crises of the Covid pandemic, wars in Yemen and Ukraine, and global food insecurity.

Nearly every indicator of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals is off track at the halfway point for achieving them by 2030, the 2022 Goalkeepers Report — which monitors the world’s progress — stated.

The report, authored by philanthropists Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates, who co-chair the Gates Foundation, was released on Tuesday.

Mark Suzman, the CEO of the Gates Foundation, said the report was sobering, noting that in the past two years, the double impact of the global pandemic and increasing food insecurity had stalled and reversed some of the gains made. Both these crises, Suzman added, had affected women disproportionately. 

He said progress made in bringing down the child mortality rate globally had also stalled, and there were setbacks in education and learning loss. 

“Food aid is essential,” he said, explaining that stunting and wasting that would occur in children due to the current food crisis would have a lasting impact.

un goals foodstuffs

The price of basic foodstuffs has skyrocketed globally, impacting heavily on communities around the world. (Photo: Hoseya Jubase).

“The world should be as generous as possible. Every key indicator is now off-track.” But, he added, we can still turn it around. 

“Innovation will be key.”

This year’s report, “The Future of Progress”, notes the impact of the pandemic, wars in Ukraine and Yemen, ongoing climate and food crises, and macroeconomic headwinds on global ambitions to improve and save millions of lives by 2030.

un development goals

A global food crisis and climate change have been flagged by the Gates Foundation as possible major barriers to reaching the sustainable development goals (Photo: Lucas Ledwaba / Mukurukuru Media)

“It’s no surprise that progress has stalled amid numerous crises,” Bill Gates said. “But this is not a reason to give up. Every action matters to save lives and reduce suffering. Turning away would be a mistake.”

In their respective essays, the authors call for new approaches to achieving gender equality and food security. They also cite dramatic progress in dealing with the HIV/Aids epidemic — a nearly 60% decline in annual deaths between 2000 and 2020 — as an example of what can happen when the world invests in long-term solutions and innovative approaches to entrenched issues.

“The world faces many challenges, some of which may seem insurmountable… I’m filled with hope that we can solve these problems together and save millions of lives through human ingenuity and innovation,” French Gates said.

“We know progress is possible because the global community has faced difficult odds before and won. And we can do it again.”

‘Millions of lives in the balance’

“At this historical inflection point, how the world responds to setbacks is a choice that will impact what happens now and for generations to come. Millions of lives hang in the balance,” Suzman said. 

“We call on governments, the private sector, civil society and philanthropic organisations to do more to meet the ambitious goals and to keep investing in new ways of thinking, new tools and data, and proven solutions to ensure every person has the opportunity to live a healthy, productive life.”

In her essay, French Gates cites data that shows the world will not reach gender equality until at least 2108 — three generations later than previously projected.

“When it comes to the future of progress — not just on the global goals related to gender equality, but on those on good health, quality education, ending poverty, and more — there is one engine that can drive them all: women’s power,” French Gates wrote.

She highlights two proven approaches for increasing women’s power in their families and communities: building economic resilience through expanded access to digital financial tools, and implementing a robust caregiving infrastructure that enables women to earn an income outside the home.


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In his essay, Gates asserts that hunger cannot be solved solely through humanitarian assistance. He cites recent shocks to the world’s supply of grain from Eastern Europe and the ongoing threat of climate change to underscore the vulnerability and interconnectedness of the global food system.

The report also provides bleak projections for future crop yields and agricultural productivity, particularly in Africa.

un goals

The price of basic foodstuffs has skyrocketed globally, impacting heavily on communities around the world.
(Photo: Mark Lewis)

Gates points to examples of planting “climate-smart” crops and utilising predictive modelling as proven solutions that have helped smallholder farmers in Africa and India increase their productivity and protect their crops from the disruptive effects of climate change.

He advocates for increased investment in research and development and other proven solutions to significantly boost agricultural productivity, particularly in Africa, where 14 countries depend on Russia and Ukraine for half of their wheat.

“The world should be generous and prevent people from going hungry, but in another sense, it doesn’t solve the larger problem. The goal should not simply be giving more food aid. It should be to ensure no aid is needed in the first place,” Gates wrote. DM/MC

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