Give Today’s Children a Chance

By  Vitor Gaspar and Christine Lagarde

World leaders are gathering at the United Nations to discuss how to deliver on development for all that is economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable—“The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The long road towards development

The world has achieved a tremendous amount in the past five decades on the development front. Since 1990 alone, over a billion people have lifted themselves out of extreme poverty. Never before in human history have we witnessed progress on this scale. It reflects a combination of important economic reforms that led to robust economic growth in most of the developing world and the concerted efforts of the international community to support countries in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, agreed in 2000.

Let’s look at two Indonesian women: Sri, the grandmother, and Tuti, her granddaughter. Sri’s annual income was US$1,500. If she had not died during childbirth, then she surely would have lost one of her seven children before the age of one. Tuti, on the other hand, has an annual income of US$11,200 and is hardly at risk of either dying during childbirth or of losing a child.

Indonesia continues to progress along its development path. The Indonesian government is forging ahead with plans to fund development needs in education, health, and infrastructure, to be financed by increasing tax revenues. Boosting revenues by an additional five percentage points of GDP over five years would ensure that Indonesia is on track to meet the SDGs by 2030.

Yet other countries lag behind. In too many parts of the world, poverty remains a fundamental barrier to economic advancement. Take Benin, for example. A girl born in Benin today has the same life expectancy as an Indonesian woman born 40 years ago. Benin has about the same income per capita as Indonesia did at that time. Even if Benin were to replicate Indonesia’s fast progress, it would be 2050 before Benin’s girls would reach the development standards available to Indonesian girls in 2030.

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Give Today’s Children a Chance

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