social progress in 2030


Social Progress in 2030

Developing beyond economic growth

A report developed by Deloitte UK, in conjunction with Social Progress Imperative, found that even high economic growth will not get the world close to meeting the UN’s new Global Goals. Social progress will instead rely on governments, civil society, and businesses working together to build better and stronger societies.

Economic growth is unlikely to get us to the UN’s Global Goals

A focus on targets and measurement, thanks in part to the Millennium Development Goals, has meant that many have seen their basic needs met. Economic growth, particularly in fast-growing countries like China, played an enormous role in helping to meet these targets and raise living standards.

Yet research by Deloitte UK has found that growth is unlikely to achieve the same effect again. Instead the world will need a “productivity revolution” in creating social value if countries are to meet the UN’s new goals.

Getting richer won’t solve the world’s challenges

  • Expected growth will likely raise the world’s average annual income from $14K to $23K by 2030.
  • But using data and methodology from the Social Progress Index, human wellbeing is predicted to only grow at a fraction of this rate, with social progress rising from 61 to only 62.4 out of 100
  • To put this in context, if we want to achieve the Global Goals, the world’s social progress score would have to reach at least 75 out of 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 out of 100.

Business as usual will not get this done 

  • Luckily, a number of different countries are showing us the way. Costa Rica, with an average annual income of just $13K, has achieved a social progress score of 77.9. If all countries could achieve a similar level of over performance, global social progress could reach social progress of 72.7, equivalent to Italy’s social progress score today. 
  • This will require a shift away from a reliance on growth alone. Cultural shifts, scaling social innovation and cross-sector collaboration will all be necessary to solve society’s biggest challenges.

The Big 6 

  • Take the Big 6 in terms of population growth over the next 15 years – Brazil, Indonesia, China, India, Nigeria and Pakistan. These countries will have 47 per cent or 3.9 billion of the global population in 2030. If they each tackled their greatest societal challenges, and achieved 5% above the trend line, they could boost global social progress by 4%. But while there are similarities each of the Big 6 face their own unique set of societal challenges. 

Sectors must work together: 

  • Governments will be the lynchpin of the Global Goals. They have the legitimacy to implement new policies and solutions and will be fundamental to greater social progress. But civil society and business must play a role too.
  • Business is already playing a role in driving social progress. It often provides or supports the provision of health, education, and infrastructure. Yet it could do more – and it can’t just throw money at the problem. Many businesses are now looking to the long-term, recognising that healthier society makes for a healthier bottom line.
  • By working together sectors could use each other skills and resources to better target and tackle obstacles to social progress and help the world move towards the Global Goals

To reach the Global Goals we cannot rely on economic growth – business as usual will not work. Sectors need to understand the role they can play in removing obstacles to social progress and work together to create healthier societies. 

Social Progress in 2030: Developing beyond economic growth

Watch the TED talk on Social Progress in 2030

SPI Executive Director, Michael Green, gave a TED talk on Social Prgoress in 2030 and their People's Report Card. Watch to learn more about the report and the report card

“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.”


David Cruickshank
Chairman of the Board of Directors, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited

Did you find this useful?