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Economic Growth Not Likely to Get Us to UN’s Global Goal

News Release: Social Progress Imperative and Deloitte UK

Embargo: Immediate, September 28th 2015

Economic Growth is Not Likely to Get Us to the UN’s Global Goals - New Deloitte Report

(Immediate 28th September 2015) Even with sustained global economic growth over the next fifteen years the world will likely fall well short of meeting the UN’s Global Goals, and a “productivity revolution” in creating social value is needed if countries are to meet the UN’s new goals, according to Deloitte UK and the Social Progress Imperative.

‘Social Progress in 2030’ report published today by Deloitte UK uses data and assumptions from the Social Progress Index (SPI) to demonstrate the scale of the challenges ahead. It finds that:

• Using the SPI as a proxy for the Global Goals the world needs to score 75/100 (based on SPI metrics) to meet the Goals. The world currently scores just 61/100.

• Massive increases in real per capita GDP over the next fifteen years will still not get the world anywhere close to meeting the Global Goals. Global GDP per capita is forecast to increase 58% (from US$14k today to US$23k) by 2030 but the corresponding increase in social progress is projected to only be minimal. Global social progress will rise from a world average today of 61/100 to only 62.4/100.

• Even if real per capita GDP doubled over the next 15 years - way above most forecasts - the world will still fall short, scoring around 63/100.

• The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were met partly because economic growth was able to lift the least well off out of poverty. But Deloitte estimates that economic growth alone will not help the world come close to meeting the Global Goals - business as usual is not enough. Why? The Global Goals focus far more on metrics which correlate negatively with GDP (e.g. ecosystem sustainability which looks set to worsen in the coming years) than the MDGs.

• The solutions to meet the Global Goals will be multiple and complex. They will require a focus, for example, on the 'Big Six' countries (India, China, Pakistan, Indonesia, Nigeria and Brazil), who are expected to have a combined 47% of the world's population by 2030. Yet some of these countries have very low Social Progress Index scores (Pakistan and Nigeria are in the bottom 12 countries globally in the SPI rankings). Without these countries making a sustained effort, meeting the Global Goals becomes even more difficult.

• More than economic growth, the countries of the world need a productivity revolution in the creation of social progress over the next 15 years if they are to stand any chance of meeting the UN’s ambitious vision for our world.

David Cruickshank, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, said: “We have a historic opportunity-- to combine the policy power of government with the convening power of civil society and resources of business -- to better target and tackle obstacles to social progress. This report highlights the need for these entities to look beyond GDP if they want to help achieve the UN’s Global Goals by 2030.”

“There is light at the end of the tunnel. A number of countries, for example Costa Rica and Rwanda are already experiencing higher levels of social progress than may be expected given their GDP per capita levels. If more countries managed to follow this path substantial achievements could be realised globally.”

The SPI is a proxy for measuring the effectiveness with which the Global Goals are being met because there is significant overlap between what the SPI measures and what the UN’s Global Goals measure. Deloitte UK used the observed relationships between GDP and the SPI to calculate the estimated levels of economic growth and social progress increases respectively that could be required to pull the world up to the point that the Global Goals can be met.

Michael Green, Executive Director, The Social Progress Imperative which publishes the Social Progress Index said: “The UN’s Global Goals are ambitious and achievable but as today’s findings starkly illustrate it will require far more than economic growth alone to meet them. Nothing short of a productivity revolution in the creation of social progress over the next 15 years is required if we are to stand a chance of meeting the UN’s ambitious vision for our world.

“The announcement of the Global Goals is just the beginning of the debate about how we improve the lives of millions of people around the world. The success of the Global Goals rests on ensuring policy-makers, citizens, civil society and businesses can all track countries’ progress and identify areas in need of improvement. The Social Progress Index provides the robust metrics with which to achieve this, making an impact on the wealth and wellbeing of all citizens in societies rich and poor as the world embarks on this ambitious journey to deliver sustained and inclusive development for all.

The Social Progress Imperative created the Social Progress Index working in collaboration with scholars from the Harvard Business School and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), as well as international organizations in social entrepreneurship, business and philanthropy led by the Skoll Foundation and Fundación Avina as well as Cisco, Compartamos Banco, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (Deloitte Global) and its member firms (Deloitte).


Notes to editors:

‘Social Progress in 2030’ report

A full copy can be viewed here:

About the Social Progress Imperative

The Social Progress Imperative’s mission is to improve the lives of people around the world, particularly the least well off, by advancing global social progress by: providing a robust, holistic and innovative measurement tool—the Social Progress Index (SPI); fostering research and knowledge-sharing on social progress; and equipping leaders and change-makers in business, government and civil society with new tools to guide policies and programs. Learn more at

About Deloitte

Deloitte refers to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, a UK private company limited by guarantee (“DTTL”), its network of member firms, and their related entities. DTTL and each of its member firms are legally separate and independent entities. DTTL (also referred to as “Deloitte Global”) does not provide services to clients. Please see for a more detailed description of DTTL and its member firms.

Deloitte provides audit, consulting, financial advisory, risk management, tax and related services to public and private clients spanning multiple industries. With a globally connected network of member firms in more than 150 countries, Deloitte brings world-class capabilities and high-quality service to clients, delivering the insights they need to address their most complex business challenges. Deloitte's more than 225,000 professionals are committed to making an impact that matters. Deloitte serves 4 out of 5 Fortune Global 500 companies.

Financial Support

The Social Progress Imperative is registered as a nonprofit organization in the US, and is grateful to the following organizations for their financial support: Cisco, Compartamos Banco, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd. (Deloitte Global), Fundación Avina, The Rockefeller Foundation, and the Skoll Foundation.

What is social progress?

Social progress is defined as the capacity of a society to meet the basic human needs of its citizens, establish the building blocks that allow citizens to improve their lives, and create the conditions for individuals and communities to meet their full potential.

Social Progress Index 2015 Results

The full, interactive dataset from the Index can be viewed here: Please note that due to a variety of changes made to the 2015 Social Progres Index, including the number of countries covered, the 2014 Social Progress Index is not comparable to the 2015 Index.

*GDP per capita definition

The Social Progress Index uses the World Bank definition: “GDP per capita based on purchasing power parity (PPP). PPP GDP is gross domestic product converted to international dollars using purchasing power parity rates. An international dollar has the same purchasing power over GDP as the U.S. dollar has in the US. GDP at purchaser's prices is the sum of gross value added by all resident producers in the economy plus any product taxes and minus any subsidies not included in the value of the products. It is calculated without making deductions for depreciation of fabricated assets or for depletion and degradation of natural resources. Data are in constant 2011 international dollars.”

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