If you haven’t heard about the Global Goals yet, you will soon. Later this month, leaders from around the world will get together at the United Nations in New York to agree on the world’s development agenda for the next 15 years—what they’re calling the Global Goals.
It is a great opportunity to take stock of how the world’s poorest are doing, and there is a big push to spread the word about the Global Goals. (Melinda and I will be in New York to help get the news out.)
You may be wondering: Why should we believe these goals will make any difference at all?
Because the world has already done something like this, and with great success. Fifteen years ago, world leaders adopted the Millennium Development Goals. It was one of the best ideas for improving lives that I’ve ever seen. The goals focused the world’s attention on disease and poverty, and by using data to measure progress, we could see which countries were succeeding and which were falling behind.
On many measures, people around the world are better off today than they were 15 years ago—for example the fraction of the world’s population living in extreme poverty has dropped by half since 1990—and the MDGs played a key role in driving these improvements.
No one understands the data better than Chris Murray. Chris is a brilliant guy who runs the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in my hometown of Seattle. He is passionate about public health and also happens to be a numbers guy who loves software. (In other words, we have a lot in common. I wrote more about Chris here.)
Here is Chris explaining the amazing drop in child mortality since 2000 and how the MDGs helped:
Here he is on maternal mortality…
Of course, setting goals and measuring progress is not the only factor in improving health. But it is a crucial one. I am very optimistic that by following the model that helped us achieve so much in the past 15 years, we can accomplish even more in the next 15 years.
This article was previously published by Gatesnotes.