The Global Goals

The Nordic Countries and SDG 1: No Poverty

Tracking the progress of the Nordic countries towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal 1

In 2015, all United Nations (UN) member states adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), establishing a global agenda to create a better world by 2030. This data tracker looks at Nordic countries’ progress towards achieving SDG 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere. The goal comprises 7 distinct targets to be met by 2030.

Using the latest official data, we first explore global trends and then zoom in on the Nordic countries to make an assessment of: i) a country’s current distance to target based on the most recent data, and ii) a country’s likelihood of achieving the target by 2030 based on current trends. The Nordic countries are classified into one of five categories for each target:

  • Met: The country has already met the 2030 target.
  • On track: The country has not yet met the target but is on track to do so by 2030.
  • Short distance: The country has not met the target and is not projected to do so but is close to achieving it. This category also applies when the country currently meets the target but is projected to move away from it.
  • Long distance but progressing: The country is far from the target but is making progress towards it.
  • Long distance and not progressing: The country is far from the target and is not making progress towards reaching it.

The assessment follows the methodology developed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) for monitoring country level progress towards the SDGs. Note that while we adhere to the OECD methodology, the OECD is not affiliated with the analysis and calculations presented here.

Further details on the methodology:

Target levels in 2030: If the UN’s SDG framework does not explicitly set target levels for 2030, the analysis follows the target end-values chosen by the OECD as relevant for OECD countries, following either the level achieved by the best performing countries in the OECD or with reference to international agreements.

Distance to target: A country’s distance to the target is measured in OECD standardized units. A short distance is defined as less than 0.5 units away, and a long distance is more than 0.5 units away. Values are normalized based on the most recent observations for OECD countries.

Trend assessment: Historical data for a country is analyzed for a clear increasing or decreasing trend. The Spearman rank correlation coefficient between observed data and time is calculated. A coefficient greater than +0.2 and significant at the 10% level indicates a clear increasing trend, while a coefficient less than -0.2 and significant at the 10% level indicates a clear decreasing trend. No assessment is made unless a minimum of three years of data within a five-year period is available for a country on a specific indicator.

Likelihood of reaching target in 2030: Monte Carlo simulations are used to estimate the likelihood of reaching target levels by 2030. 10,000 simulations are performed per country for each target. A country is classified as having a high likelihood of reaching the target if more than 75% of the randomized projections meet the target level. If fewer than 75% of the projections meet the target, the likelihood is classified as low.

Please be aware that this analysis is continually evolving. We monitor for new data daily from the UN and OECD databases, and when new data is released for a target, we update the country assessment accordingly. As a result, the text and visualisations may change at any time. Consult the changelog at the end of the page for details on revisions and updates.

Target 1.1

By 2030, eradicate extreme poverty for all people everywhere.


1.1.1Proportion of the population living below the international poverty line

Global trends

Extreme poverty is defined as living below the international poverty line, currently set at $2.15 per person per day (in comparable international prices).

While the percentage of people living in extreme poverty has seen a decrease in the past decades, the progress has been slowing since 2015. According to the latest official UN data, approximately 8.5% of the global population—659 million people—lived in extreme poverty in 2019. This was a significant improvement from nearly 30% in 2000, meaning that over 1 billion people escaped extreme poverty since the start of the decade.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted this progress. In a striking reversal of three decades of improvement, extreme poverty increased for the first time in a generation in 2020 to approximately 9.3%. Although poverty reduction resumed in 2021, the outlook for 2022 is uncertain due to rising food and energy prices. The latest estimates suggest that in 2022, 8.4% of the world population – as many as 670 million people – were living in extreme poverty.

Looking ahead to 2030, the World Bank projects that around 575 million people—7% of the global population—will live in extreme poverty, significantly missing the global target set in the Sustainable Development Goals of reducing the extreme poverty rate to below 3% (less than 255 million people).

Many regions have made significant progress has been made towards reducing the share of people living in extreme poverty.

  • Sub-Saharan Africa: Extreme poverty rates decreased from 58% in 2000 to 35% in 2019. Still, the region currently accounts 60% of the global population living in extreme poverty.
  • Eastern and South-Eastern Asia: This region saw a significant decrease in extreme poverty, from 36% in 2000 to 1% in 2019.
  • Central and Southern Asia: Extreme poverty rates dropped from 39% in 2002 to 9% in 2019.
  • Latin America and the Caribbean: The rate of extreme poverty decreased from 14% in 2000 to 5% in 2021.

Note that the regional groupings used in the visualisation above (and all other visualisations on this page with regional data) follow the UN regional classification for the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Nordics

Extreme poverty is virtually non-existent in the Nordic countries, with all countries significantly below the 3% according to the latest UN data.

All the Nordic countries have thus already met the target for 2030.

Detailed Assessment Results for Target 1.1


By age

By sex

Target 1.2

By 2030, reduce at least by half the proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions


1.2.1Proportion of population living below the national poverty line
1.2.2Proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions

Global Trends

In contrast to target 1.1, which focuses on the absolute measure of poverty, target 1.2 is aimed at alleviating poverty as per nationally determined poverty thresholds. These thresholds vary from country to country in their definitions, hence a general global or regional trend is not examined in further detail here. It is worth pointing out that in its prelimiary status report for the SDGs in 2023, the UN says that given historical trends, only one-third of countries will have halved their national poverty rates by 2030 compared to 2015.

According to the latest UN data for 2020, only 27% of countries had achieved the target of halving the proportion of the population living below their nationally established poverty lines. In 52% of countries, poverty rates have declined by less than half, whereas they have increased in 22% of countries. The regions with the most progress are Central Asia and Southern Asia as well as Eastern Asia and South-eastern Asia. If current trends persist, the UN estimates that only 40% of countries will achieve the target of halving poverty by 2030.

Note that this data only covers 68 countries with set national poverty lines and available data.

The Nordics

The OECD uses two indicators to follow progress in OECD countries towards target 1.2:

  • a measure of relative income poverty
  • a measure of multidimensional poverty

1.2.1. Relative income poverty

The relative income poverty rate is defined as the percentage of people whose income falls below a poverty line set at half the median household income of the total population. The median household income is the level that falls exactly in the middle of all household incomes.

OECD data reveals that no Nordic country has made significant progress in reducing the relative income poverty rate over the past decades. The latest data indicates that relative income poverty is most prevalent in Sweden and Norway, both at above 8%. Iceland has the lowest share, although the most recent data is from 2017. Nevertheless, relative income poverty is less prevalent in the Nordic countries compared to other industrialized nations, with an average of 1 in 10 people living in OECD countries considered poor according to this definition.

1.2.2. Multidimensional poverty

Measuring poverty based solely on a person’s or household’s income can risk overlooking other factors contributing to poverty. The European statistical agency, Eurostat, publishes data for a measure of multidimensional poverty that covers people who are:

  • at risk of poverty
  • severely materially deprived
  • living in a household with a very low work intensity

Data for multidimensional poverty, as defined above, shows that multidimensional poverty rates in most Nordic countries have also remained relatively stable over the last decades.

Considering both indicators in target 1.2, relative income poverty and multidimensional poverty, the OECD has set the target level at half the median OECD rate in 2015. For relative income poverty that is a rate of 5.45% and for multidimensional poverty 10%. Currently, Iceland is the only country that has already met the relative income povery target, with no country achieving the target for multidimensional poverty. When looking at both indicators for a combined assessment on target 1.2, Iceland and Finland is at a short distance away from reaching it. Denmark is at a long distance but making progress towards it. Norway and Sweden are both at a long distance and not making progress.

Target 1.3

Implement nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures for all, including floors, and by 2030 achieve substantial coverage of the poor and the vulnerable


1.3.1Proportion of population covered by social protection floors/systems

Global trends

This target underscores the pivotal role of social protection systems in preventing and reducing poverty. Such systems comprise a variety of measures designed to secure people’s employment, health, and income.

By 2020, 47% of the global population was effectively covered by at least one social protection cash benefit, a slight improvement from 45% in 2015. However, this still means that around 4 billion people across the world are without any form of protection or income security from social protection systems.

Furthermore, only 26% of children under 15 received a social protection benefit; merely one in three individuals with severe disabilities worldwide received a disability benefit; only 35% of workers had coverage in case of work-related injuries; and a mere 18.6% of unemployed workers worldwide were effectively covered.

There are significant disparities in social protection coverage across different regions. For instance, in Sub-Saharan Africa, where poverty is most prevalent, only 14% of the population is covered. In contrast, over 80% of the population in most high-income countries benefit from social protection systems.

While numerous countries have introduced new social protection measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the UN reports that nearly 95% of these were temporary. This underlines the substantial gap that needs to be bridged over the next decade in order to achieve the 2030 target.

The Nordics

National-level measurements of social protection coverage measured by the UN include the following indicators:

  • Proportion of population covered by at least one social protection cash benefit
  • Proportion of children covered by social protection benefits
  • Proportion of women giving birth covered by maternity benefits
  • Proportion of persons with disabilities receiving benefits
  • Proportion of unemployed receiving benefits
  • Proportion of workers covered in case of employment injury
  • Proportion of older persons receiving a pension
  • Proportion of vulnerable persons receiving benefits
  • Proportion of poor population receiving social assistance cash benefit

Compared to other countries, the Nordic countries have high levels of social protection coverage. For most groups, coverage rates reach 100%. However, there are notable exceptions, particularly concerning unemployment benefits and social assistance cash benefits for vulnerable groups.

For 2030, the OECD has operationalised this target at 97% coverage rates (to allow for measurement errors) in OECD-countries. While some coverage gaps remain, the majority of indicators are already met (above 97%) for Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. For Iceland, the majority of indicators where data is avaliable is within a short distance of the target level.

Target 1.4

By 2030, ensure that all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services, ownership and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, natural resources, appropriate new technology and financial services, including microfinance


1.4.1Proportion of population living in households with access to basic services
1.4.2Proportion of total adult population with secure tenure rights to land, (a) with legally recognized documentation, and (b) who perceive their rights to land as secure, by sex and type of tenure

Global trends

Access to basic services plays an indispensable role in efforts to alleviate poverty. Target 1.4 focuses on the proportion of the population using essential services such as clean drinking water and sanitation. Over the past decades, there has been a notable global progression in expanding access to these vital services.

Nevertheless, as of 2020, approximately 771 million individuals were without basic access to water services, half of whom lived in Sub-Saharan Africa. Furthermore, 1.7 billion people lacked access to basic sanitation. To achieve universal access to safely managed sanitation by 2030, the UN has stated that we need to quadruple the current pace of progress.

In addition to water and sanitation, access to basic services also includes secure land and property rights for people. This is measured by the percentage of the adult population with secure land tenure rights, with legally recognized documentation, and who perceive their rights as secure, considering the gender and type of tenure. As of May 2023, few countries had reported data on this measure, with more comprehensive data collection planned.

The Nordics

In the Nordic countries, as in other high-income nations, access to basic services is well-established and nearly universal. Consequently, the combined assessment for this indicator is that all Nordic countries have already met the target for 2030.

Target 1.5

By 2030, build the resilience of the poor and those in vulnerable situations and reduce their exposure and vulnerability to climate-related extreme events and other economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters


1.5.1Number of deaths, missing persons and directly affected persons attributed to disasters per 100,000 population
1.5.2Direct economic loss attributed to disasters in relation to global gross domestic product (GDP)
1.5.3Number of countries that adopt and implement national disaster risk reduction strategies in line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015–2030
1.5.4Proportion of local governments that adopt and implement local disaster risk reduction strategies in line with national disaster risk reduction strategies

Global trends

The poorest are often the most vulnerable to shocks and disasters. Therefore, building resilience against such events is a crucial aspect of efforts to end poverty. Target 1.5 aims to build resilience by adopting disaster risk reduction strategies at national and local levels.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been one of the most severe disasters in decades, with a devastating impact on societies worldwide. The pandemic reversed progress made from 2015 to 2019 in reducing disaster-related mortality rates.

In 2020, 80 countries reported nearly 300,000 disaster-related deaths, the vast majority of which were related to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, according to the UN, this figure significantly underreports pandemic-related deaths, as the World Health Organization estimated 4.5 million excess deaths during 2020 alone.

Only 33 countries have reported data on indicator 1.5.2 concerning economic losses, so this indicator is not discussed further.

Regarding indicators 1.5.3 and 1.5.4 on risk reduction strategies, 123 countries had implemented national disaster risk reduction strategies in 2021 according to the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. This is an increase from 55 countries in 2015.

The Sendai Framework is part of the UN’s effort to help member countries prevent new risks, reduce existing risks, and increase resilience.

Out of the 123 countries adopting national-level strategies, 97 had also done so at local government levels.

The Nordics

Data on the Nordic countries for this target is limited, which makes cross-country comparability difficult. Therefore no overall assessment is given for this target.

Notably, concerning risk reduction strategies (indicators 1.5.3 and 1.5.4), only Finland and Norway have implemented such strategies in accordance with the Sendai Framework. Norway has a score of 0.98 for its level of implementation, measured on a scale from 0 to 1, with 1 being the highest. By comparison, Finland has a score of 0.75. In Finland, 100% of all local governments have implemented local strategies in line with the national strategy, while 98% of all local governments in Norway have done so.

Target 1.a

Ensure significant mobilization of resources from a variety of sources, including through enhanced development cooperation, in order to provide adequate and predictable means for developing countries, in particular least developed countries, to implement programmes and policies to end poverty in all its dimensions


1.a.1Total official development assistance grants from all donors that focus on poverty reduction as a share of the recipient country’s gross national income
1.a.2Proportion of total government spending on essential services (education, health and social protection)

Global trends

This target has both national and international components. Nationally, it examines the proportion of total government spending allocated to essential services, including education, health, and social protection. Internationally, it considers the share of development assistance focused on poverty reduction as a portion of the recipient country’s gross national income. It is challenging to measure progress globally for both aspects, and no specific benchmarks have been set for 2030.

The Nordics

Data on Nordic countries’ development assistance is available, but it is measured against the donor country’s gross national income (GNI) rather than the recipient’s. This data can still provide insight into the proportion of a donor country’s contribution to poverty reduction in comparison to their overall contribution to development assistance in other countries.

However, the data does not offer a clear picture of trends over time for the Nordics. The latest data from 2021 reveals that Norway had the highest contributions to poverty reduction among the Nordics, with poverty reduction assistance comprising 0.14% of Norway’s gross national income—an increase from 0.03% in 2000. All Nordic countries, except Finland, had a higher share of grants for poverty reduction than the global average of 0.02%.

Regarding the domestic component of government spending on essential services, such spending accounts for around two-thirds of all government spending in the Nordics. This is more or less in line with the OECD average (64% in 2019).

In line with the OECDs approach to the SDG targets on government spending and development assistance, we do not consider these suitable for assessment of progress against a set target, as these will depend on national circumstances and priorities. Note however, that while not captured in the SDG framework, the international community have set targets for levels of official development assistance.

Target 1.b

Create sound policy frameworks at the national, regional and international levels, based on pro-poor and gender-sensitive development strategies, to support accelerated investment in poverty eradication actions


1.b.1Pro-poor public social spending

Similar to Target 1.a, there is no established benchmark to evaluate progress for this target. This target is currently planned for further development by UNICEF. Consequently, no assessment of progress for the Nordic countries is provided at this point in time.

About the data

The data presented on global, regional, and national trends are from the UN SDG Global Database and the OECD unless otherwise stated.

Note that the regional groupings used in the visualisations on this page with follow the UN regional classification for the Sustainable Development Goals.


  • First released May 2022
  • Updated with new data on global extreme poverty October 2022
  • Data and text update March and April 2023 following the release of new UN data.

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