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Up to 82% of fragile and conflict affected states are off track to achieve Sustainable Development Goal targets, according to a new report by the International Rescue Committee and the Overseas Development Institute

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As many as 82% of fragile and conflicted affected states (FCAS) are off-track to achieve selected Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) targets by 2030, according to a new report by the International Rescue Committee and the Overseas Development Institute released today. The report, SDG Progress: Fragility, Crisis and Leaving No One Behind, examines country level progress against the SDGs and makes projections as to how much more effort will be needed to reach them by 2030.  The findings come when heads of state meet this week at the United Nations General Assembly in New York; just one year before the first heads of state level SDG Summit to track progress on the global goals will take place.

Despite the 2015 commitment by governments to ‘leave no one behind’ as part of the UN’s 2030 Agenda, unless significant progress is made in reaching the poorest and most marginalized people, the SDGs will not be met, according to the analysis. Within FCAS and beyond, a subset of ‘people caught in crisis’ - refugees, internally displaced persons, and people living in conflict areas – face further marginalization.  Globally, 152 million people across 26 crises need humanitarian aid to survive. This is exacerbated by an upward trend in displacement and a doubling of the number of violent conflicts since 2000.

The report shows FCAS are projected to house around 85% of those remaining in extreme poverty – some 342 million people – in 2030. Significant deprivation across multiple SDGs that pertain to basic unmet needs will be concentrated in these states, with current trends indicating:

  • Undernourishment is on the rise in FCAS: 84.4 million more people in FCAS are expected to be undernourished in 2030, totaling 412 million people in FCAS
  • Lack of sanitation is expanding in FCAS: 45 million more people in FCAS will lack proper sanitation
  • Numbers of people residing in slums will grow in FCAS: at least 106 million more people in FCAS will be living in slums
  • Early childhood death remain endemic in FACS: 70% of under-five deaths – 2.4 million children – will occur in FCAS

The analysis reveals dramatic lags amongst some of the world’s most volatile states:

  • In about one-third of FCAS, either significant changes or – as is the case for Central African Republic, Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire, Guatemala, Malawi and Nigeria – outright reversal will be needed to end extreme poverty (target 1.1)
  • Only 4 of the 58 FCAS – just 7% – are on track to end hunger (target 2.1)
  • Only 4 FCAS are slated to achieve universal lower secondary completion by 2030 (target 4.1)
  • Just 6 fragile states (9%) have achieved or are on track to end child marriage (target 5.3)
  • Some 35 fragile countries (60%) need major progress to achieve universal access to sanitation, and 6 countries (10%) – Equatorial Guinea, Gambia, Myanmar, Nigeria, Somalia, Zimbabwe – need to reverse course (target 6.2)

The report concludes by laying out five recommendations to ensure they are prioritized in SDG implementation. Recommendations include the establishment a high level panel to drive progress; a formalized process for tracking; alignment of financing for left behind groups; and the improvement of data collection efforts.

David Miliband, President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee said:

“This report shows that the geography of poverty, hunger and hardship is changing. By 2030, more of the world’s extremely poor people will be living in countries that are fragile or in conflict. Not India or South Africa, but Yemen, Somalia, Nigeria.

The Sustainable Development Goals are the best global tool that we have to improve human wellbeing, but people in conflict and crisis are being left behind. We ask world leaders meeting at the UN this week to prioritise, innovate and coordinate better, including with the private sector, to reach people in conflict and crisis and get the SDGs back on track.”  

Elizabeth Stuart, head of the Growth, Poverty and Inequality Programme at ODI, said:

“Three years into the SDGs it is shocking that just four of the 58 fragile and conflict-affected countries are on track to end hunger.

All countries need to prioritise action for people who have been left behind, whether that means displaced people in fragile states or children struggling to get a basic education.

To do this, the report recommends all countries report annually at the UN on how they are delivering their commitment to leave no one behind. At the same we recommend that a head of state-level group is established to review and dramatically accelerate progress.”

The report was funded by Citi and Unilever.

Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, said:

“While progress has been made against the Sustainable Development Goals, this report amplifies the importance of ensuring that we leave no one behind. The private sector, governments, UN Agencies NGOs, and civil society must find new ways of collaborating to deploy sustainable business models in challenging environments that will help to meet everyone’s basic needs, create prosperity, and bring greater stability to our world.”

Ed Skyler, Executive Vice President, Citi Global Public Affairs, said: 

“Citi has a presence in more than half of the major refugee-hosting countries around the world, and we feel we have a role to play to help refugees overcome the obstacles in front of them.  The Rescuing Futures program, part of the Citi Foundation’s Pathways to Progress initiative, is one way we’re working with the IRC to help connect refugees with job opportunities, but there is much more we can do.”

The report asserts that successful implementation of the SDGs will depend on a redoubling of efforts on the part of the international community.  Unless more attention is paid to fragile states, and in particular, people living in crisis within those borders, the gap between them and the rest of the world will widen, and the SDG agenda will be compromised.

Read the full report here.


  • On average, 18% of FCAS are ‘on track’ to meet selected targets under Goals 1-7 and 11, which relate to unmet basic needs. 82% either are off track or lack the data for an assessment of progress.
About the IRC

The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 28 offices across the U.S. helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future, and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.

About ODI

ODI is an independent, global think tank, working for a sustainable and peaceful world in which every person thrives. We harness the power of evidence and ideas through research and partnership to confront challenges, develop solutions, and create change.