Opening Remarks by WBG Senior VP Mahmoud Mohieldin at SDGs-Atlas 2018 Launch

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

As prepared for Delivery: 

It’s a pleasure to be a part of the official launch of the second edition of the Atlas of the SDGs. This 2018 edition was first previewed at the Spring Meetings in April and it clearly got people excited. We’ve been receiving messages since then from people wanting to know when it will be released because the 2017 edition was so well received and popular.

I’m proud to support this publication dedicated to the SDGs, which showcases the best of our staff’s work and thinking on the 17 global goals. It is a valuable tool for building awareness and understanding around the SDGs. Quantifying our work helps shape development interventions and approaches so that we can all make better decisions in our work and in how we manage our resources. It also highlights the integrated nature of development goals.

Partnership is at the heart of the SDGs and it’s at the heart of this SDG Atlas too, which would not be possible without the efforts of statisticians and data scientists working in national and international agencies around the world, many of whom are in the room today.

The Atlas draws on the World Bank Group’s World Development Indicators, a database of more than 1,400 indicators for more than 220 economies, many going back over 50 years. These data are compiled from hundreds of national sources and over 50 international organizations from across the UN system and beyond.

For example, in the chapter on SDG16 the team draws on data from UNHCR to produce an amazing graphic story on the global refugee crisis. It shows, contrary to popular perception, that most refugees remain in countries closely neighboring the ones they fled.

For SDG3, the team works with data from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics to show that, while median spending by governments on education around the world is around 5 percent of GDP, this varies widely by country and region, as do measures of how the SDGs are being implemented and achieved, such as school completion rates and gender parity at every level of education.

And finally, for the chapter on SDG17, please take a look at the graphic using data from the Data Group’s International Debt Statistics team showing official bilateral flows of finance. In 2016, the $37 billion dollars of finance from governments in East Asia & Pacific — mostly from China — accounted for over two-thirds of the global total, and half of this financing went to Sub Saharan Africa.

Achieving the SDGs by 2030 will require more and better financing, a renewed focus on implementation to improve the lives of those hardest to reach, and significant improvements in data collection and analysis. These efforts are simply not possible without working in partnership — across institutions, ministries, and sectors, and across the public and private sectors.

While analysis of data, both big and small, is commonplace in shaping priorities and informing decisions in the private sector, we need to do more in the development space to adopt these practices, to gain more timely insights into people’s well-being, and to better target our interventions for the most vulnerable.

Ultimately, the purpose of managing data in this way is to produce measurable results—improved resilience to economic, environmental, and humanitarian shocks; more jobs and opportunities; and improved education, health, nutrition, and gender equality—while leaving no one behind.

The SDGs have energized our efforts to work with partners to reach these ambitious targets—and this Atlas provides the type of knowledge we need to most efficiently direct our efforts to achieve them.