More than half a billion children live in countries where most child-related Sustainable Development Goal indicators are not measured

Two years ago, with the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals, world leaders embarked on an ambitious agenda to give every child the best chance in life. However, in the first comprehensive assessment of progress toward achieving these goals, UNICEF has discovered alarming global data-deficiencies affecting a staggering 64 countries with a lack of information on how to meet and measure the goals.

“More than half the world’s children live in countries where we either can’t track their SDG progress, or, where we can, they are woefully off-track,” said Laurence Chandy, UNICEF Director for the Division of Data, Research and Policy. “Children around the world are counting on us – and we can’t even count all of them. The world must renew its commitment to attaining the SDGs, starting with renewing its commitment to measuring them.”

UNICEF is calling for a systematic and coordinated effort to ensure all countries have minimum data coverage for children, irrespective of their resources and capabilities. If the world is going to eradicate poverty, address climate change and build peaceful, inclusive societies for all by 2030, it starts with a clear picture of where we are and where we need to go.

Nine key facts on how the SDGs impact the lives of children:

  1. There are 520 million “uncounted” children – i.e. children who live in countries which completely lack data on at least two-thirds of child-related SDG indicators, or lack sufficient data to assess their progress.
  2. Where data are available, there is insufficient progress toward the SDGs in 37 additional countries.
  3. At current rate of progress, between now and 2030, 10 million additional children will die of preventable causes before their fifth birthday.
  4. By 2030, if current trends hold, 31 million children will be left stunted due to lack of adequate nutrition.
  5. 650 million children live in countries where, without accelerated progress, at least two-thirds of the SDGs are out of reach. In fact, due to population expansion in those countries, even more children could face bad outcomes in life by 2030 than now.
  6. The impact of the lack of data on children can be avoided by establishing stronger shared norms on data concerning children, including common approaches to measuring emerging threats facing children, capturing missing child populations, and sharing data to enable vulnerable children to be more effectively identified, while protecting children’s privacy.
  7. At current rates, 22 million children will miss out on pre-primary education by 2030.
  8. 150 million girls will marry before their 18th birthday by 2030 if current trends hold.
  9. UNICEF estimates that by 2030, 670 million people, many of them children, will still be without basic drinking water.
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