Our Perspectives

Back to the Future Day – 5 futuristic improvements that are not hoverboards

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ClockWith a target date of 2030, the Sustainable Development Goals aim to eradicate poverty, reduce inequality and respond to climate change.

If you’ve been online at all in the past few days, you know that today is “Back to the Future” or #BTTF Day. On this very day, 21 October 2015, Marty McFly and Doc Brown arrived to the future from their own 1985.

Many of the science fiction predictions from the movie still haven’t come true. The famous hoverboard, for example, is still just a dream - although inventors and bigger companies are trying hard to make it a reality.

So, although many of the futuristic things Marty and Doc witnessed in their version of 2015 are not here yet, the real 2015 would no doubt happily surprise the two time travelers. Check out five striking examples of how we have moved to the future since 1985 ourselves:

1.   No flying cars for everyone, but poverty cut in half

In the universe of BTTF, the flying car is already real and apparently available and affordable to all. Our cars still do not fly (though again, there is progress!) and poverty is also still an important challenge.

However, we did halve extreme poverty worldwide; between 1990 and 2014 it fell from 47% to 22%.

2. No pizza hydrator, but hunger down by almost 50%

About 173 million fewer people worldwide suffered from chronic hunger in 2011–13, than in 1990–92. Giving up a hydrator oven for that seems like a small sacrifice, no?

3. There is now a Department of Transtemporal Studies at Leicester University, and 91% of children now go to primary school

Although the Leicester University website may be a joke (here’s hoping it is not!), the improvements in the education of children is very real, and a great step in the right direction.

4. We *do* have (a limited amount of) Pepsi Perfect, and we will have clean water for everyone by 2030

The BTTF soft drink version is already sold out, to the chagrin of social media users, but thankfully the clean water for which world leaders will work together the next 15 years will be available for all.

5. No “Mr. Fusion”, but Sustainable Energy for All is achievable by 2030

The Mr. Fusion Home Energy Reactor that converted household waste to energy in the movie has not yet made it into our world unfortunately, but clean, affordable and accessible energy is becoming a reality for all over the next 15 years. 

So with all that progress in mind, have a very happy “Back to the Future” Day from UNDP. Let’s keep moving the world of development forward, at 88mph or more, and make Marty and Doc proud!

Talk to us! What other development achievements might impress visitors from the past?


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