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  • Do you think the world is going to be a better place next year?

  • In the next decade?

  • Can we end hunger,

  • achieve gender equality,

  • halt climate change,

  • all in the next 15 years?

  • Well, according to the governments of the world, yes we can.

  • In the last few days, the leaders of the world,

  • meeting at the UN in New York,

  • agreed a new set of Global Goals

  • for the development of the world to 2030.

  • And here they are:

  • these goals are the product of a massive consultation exercise.

  • The Global Goals are who we, humanity, want to be.

  • Now that's the plan, but can we get there?

  • Can this vision for a better world really be achieved?

  • Well, I'm here today because we've run the numbers,

  • and the answer, shockingly,

  • is that maybe we actually can.

  • But not with business as usual.

  • Now, the idea that the world is going to get a better place

  • may seem a little fanciful.

  • Watch the news every day and the world seems to be going backwards, not forwards.

  • And let's be frank:

  • it's pretty easy to be skeptical about grand announcements

  • coming out of the UN.

  • But please, I invite you to suspend your disbelief for just a moment.

  • Because back in 2001,

  • the UN agreed another set of goals, the Millennium Development Goals.

  • And the flagship target there was to halve the proportion of people

  • living in poverty by 2015.

  • The target was to take from a baseline of 1990,

  • when 36 percent of the world's population lived in poverty,

  • to get to 18 percent poverty this year.

  • Did we hit this target?

  • Well, no, we didn't.

  • We exceeded it.

  • This year, global poverty is going to fall to 12 percent.

  • Now, that's still not good enough,

  • and the world does still have plenty of problems.

  • But the pessimists and doomsayers who say that the world can't get better

  • are simply wrong.

  • So how did we achieve this success?

  • Well, a lot of it was because of economic growth.

  • Some of the biggest reductions in poverty were in countries such as China and India,

  • which have seen rapid economic growth in recent years.

  • So can we pull off the same trick again?

  • Can economic growth get us to the Global Goals?

  • Well, to answer that question,

  • we need to benchmark where the world is today against the Global Goals

  • and figure out how far we have to travel.

  • But that ain't easy,

  • because the Global Goals aren't just ambitious,

  • they're also pretty complicated.

  • Over 17 goals, there are then 169 targets

  • and literally hundreds of indicators.

  • Also, while some of the goals are pretty specific --

  • end hunger --

  • others are a lot vaguer --

  • promote peaceful and tolerant societies.

  • So to help us with this benchmarking,

  • I'm going to use a tool called the Social Progress Index.

  • What this does is measures all the stuff the Global Goals are trying to achieve,

  • but sums it up into a single number that we can use as our benchmark

  • and track progress over time.

  • The Social Progress Index basically asks three fundamental questions

  • about a society.

  • First of all, does everyone have the basic needs of survival:

  • food, water, shelter, safety?

  • Secondly, does everyone have the building blocks of a better life:

  • education, information, health and a sustainable environment?

  • And does everyone have the opportunity to improve their lives,

  • through rights, freedom of choice, freedom from discrimination,

  • and access to the world's most advanced knowledge?

  • The Social Progress Index sums all this together using 52 indicators

  • to create an aggregate score on a scale of 0 to 100.

  • And what we find is that there's a wide diversity of performance

  • in the world today.

  • The highest performing country, Norway, scores 88.

  • The lowest performing country, Central African Republic, scores 31.

  • And we can add up all the countries together,

  • weighting for the different population sizes,

  • and that global score is 61.

  • In concrete terms,

  • that means that the average human being is living on a level of social progress

  • about the same of Cuba or Kazakhstan today.

  • That's where we are today: 61 out of 100.

  • What do we have to get to to achieve the Global Goals?

  • Now, the Global Goals are certainly ambitious,

  • but they're not about turning the world into Norway in just 15 years.

  • So having looked at the numbers, my estimate is that a score of 75

  • would not only be a giant leap forward in human well-being,

  • it would also count as hitting the Global Goals target.

  • So there's our target, 75 out of 100.

  • Can we get there?

  • Well, the Social Progress Index can help us calculate this,

  • because as you might have noticed,

  • there are no economic indicators in there;

  • there's no GDP or economic growth in the Social Progress Index model.

  • And what that lets us do is understand the relationship

  • between economic growth and social progress.

  • Let me show you on this chart.

  • So here on the vertical axis, I've put social progress,

  • the stuff the Global Goals are trying to achieve.

  • Higher is better.

  • And then on the horizontal axis, is GDP per capita.

  • Further to the right means richer.

  • And in there, I'm now going to put all the countries of the world,

  • each one represented by a dot,

  • and on top of that I'm going to put the regression line

  • that shows the average relationship.

  • And what this tells us is that as we get richer,

  • social progress does tend to improve.

  • However, as we get richer, each extra dollar of GDP

  • is buying us less and less social progress.

  • And now we can use this information to start building our forecast.

  • So here is the world in 2015.

  • We have a social progress score of 61

  • and a GDP per capita of $14,000.

  • And the place we're trying to get to, remember, is 75, that Global Goals target.

  • So here we are today, $14,000 per capita GDP.

  • How rich are we going to be in 2030?

  • That's what we need to know next.

  • Well, the best forecast we can find comes from the US Department of Agriculture,

  • which forecasts 3.1 percent average global economic growth

  • over the next 15 years,

  • which means that in 2030, if they're right,

  • per capita GDP will be about $23,000.

  • So now the question is: if we get that much richer,

  • how much social progress are we going to get?

  • Well, we asked a team of economists at Deloitte

  • who checked and crunched the numbers,

  • and they came back and said, well, look: if the world's average wealth goes

  • from $14,000 a year to $23,000 a year,

  • social progress is going to increase

  • from 61 to 62.4.

  • (Laughter)

  • Just 62.4. Just a tiny increase.

  • Now this seems a bit strange.

  • Economic growth seems to have really helped

  • in the fight against poverty,

  • but it doesn't seem to be having much impact

  • on trying to get to the Global Goals.

  • So what's going on?

  • Well, I think there are two things.

  • The first is that in a way, we're the victims of our own success.

  • We've used up the easy wins from economic growth,

  • and now we're moving on to harder problems.

  • And also, we know that economic growth comes with costs as well as benefits.

  • There are costs to the environment, costs from new health problems like obesity.

  • So that's the bad news.

  • We're not going to get to the Global Goals just by getting richer.

  • So are the pessimists right?

  • Well, maybe not.

  • Because the Social Progress Index also has some very good news.

  • Let me take you back to that regression line.

  • So this is the average relationship between GDP and social progress,

  • and this is what our last forecast was based on.

  • But as you saw already,

  • there is actually lots of noise around this trend line.

  • What that tells us, quite simply,

  • is that GDP is not destiny.

  • We have countries that are underperforming

  • on social progress, relative to their wealth.

  • Russia has lots of natural resource wealth,

  • but lots of social problems.

  • China has boomed economically,

  • but hasn't made much headway on human rights or environmental issues.

  • India has a space program and millions of people without toilets.

  • Now, on the other hand, we have countries that are overperforming

  • on social progress relative to their GDP.

  • Costa Rica has prioritized education, health and environmental sustainability,