15 September, 2023
As we head into the Sustainable Development Global Goals Week, an annual week designed to ‘demand urgency’ and ‘supercharge solutions’, we’re reminded of how different in scale and substance calls to action around the SDGs can be.
On the one hand, we received an email from the UN Global Compact reminding us of the upcoming 2023 SDG Flag Campaign. The idea is for businesses and organisations to buy an SDG flag, and wave it. Quite apart from the fact that this seems to take an idea which is best in its figurative form and make it literal – it also seems a long way away from driving any meaningful form of agency, search for solutions, or accountability for change.
On the other hand, the Gates Foundation just released its 2023 report, preceding their Goalkeepers event next week in New York which Giles will be attending. This is data centric, steered by solutions, and doesn’t have a flag in site.
It explores the current maternal and neonatal health landscape, and global progress toward their corresponding SDGs. Narrating the evolution of progress since the 2000s, when healthcare boomed and neonatal and maternal deaths steadily declined, it shows how this trend has come to a halt, with the decline of neonatal deaths slowing, and in the case of maternal deaths, stalling. Yet the report also shows how this trend coincides with healthcare innovations and revolutionary information which, if made available in lower income countries, could save two million lives by 2030, and sets out its own contribution to making that happen.
It’s a pragmatic but hopeful read and shows that (with the help of policy change, political will, and investment), existing innovations can paint a very different picture, putting tangible progress on the SDGs back into reach.
By Rosie Serlin