Fact-checking claims including on world poverty, inequality and UN global goals


Global Fact Check


What are the UN Global Goals? 

What are the SDGs - Sustainable Development Goals?

What is the trend in global poverty?

What is happening to global inequality?

Is your textbook, report, fact-checker or exam paper right about global goals, global poverty or inequality statistics?




A 2500-page study shows widespread misinformation from politicians, universities and media on:
- what global goals the UN has agreed,
- whether targets are being met,
- the flawed basis of some influential economic research on poverty, "inequality" and policies.

2021-06-12 Global Lies?  Evidence on global commitments draft 645. Matt Berkley.



What are the facts about global poverty?

In an important sense, there are no "global poverty facts", or "global inequality facts" - objectively.  

But there are facts about what a claim is based on: the evidence and reasoning.




Here are original documents

Over 1000 documents on global goals and claims about global progress. Revised September 2021

with the evidence on some key global commitments and events, for the most reliable fact-checking on


- "poverty statistics",

- human rights agreements and

- global goals - Sustainable Development Goals/SDGs and more;

- global progress reports and some very large-scale social science.


With commentary and original articles covering widespread myths, errors in research methods and economic theory; errors in educational and examination material; and media distortions.



GlobalFactCheck.org aims in general to correct serious and/or persistent errors and omissions among, for example:

- textbooks,
- encyclopedias,
- universities' output,
- school examination papers,
- media organisations,
- fact-checkers,
- politicians.

It concentrates on those, rather than fast correction of very recent claims which other fact-checkers may have more motivation and facilities to act on.

Not surprisingly, the falsehoods or misleading content can easily be reproduced if they are widespread in, for example, reference books from prestigious publishers, or among other sources which journalists or academics may regard as reliable - such as universities, intergovernmental organisations, "newspapers of record", or fact-checkers.

The same can apply to omissions in cases where the issues are of higher public importance: it may seem reasonable that the public have a "right to know" or a "right to expect a reasonable standard of accuracy".  This might be considered sensible in view of, for example:

- governments' agreements or stated policies, or

- implied duties arising from private contracts or expectations, in the case of, say, newspapers, school or university teaching or examination boards which have produced, used or endorsed material.


A general question arises:  What should we expect organisations or individuals to do if they have misled others about important issues on a massive scale?




Global Lies?  World Information Report.
Draft of June 2021.

This is a 2500-page source book and partial history of global goals and global claims. 

It quotes original documents such as UN resolutions, reports and research papers, mostly in date order.

It points out connections between the original documents - including false statements.

A plain-text version here is smaller (3 megabytes) and may be easier to search.

This version does not have some parts such as text in images; it may not properly present some elements such as footnotes.  For searching in text files I use Notepad++ and FileLocator Pro.

For the corrections and clarifications list, please see here .



What is different about this work?  

It provides the evidence.

Academia and journalism sometimes rely on what people such as other academics or organisations say is true, rather than questioning it or looking at the original evidence.

The work shows some commitments and goals agreed at the UN General Assembly (usually agreed by all member states, or all which had paid their fees) and some goals agreed by governments in a region.

It does not try to list all global goals, but may correct some important wrong ideas, by showing the actual agreements.

It raises questions, such as whether social science claims are valid if the people using the claims would not use the method on themselves.

It is like a reference book - a catalogue of misinformation from

- heads of state;

- parliamentary committees whose job it is to watch and report on government;

- university-branded reference books;

- well-known "myth busting" or "fact checking" individuals and teams;

- academic or ex-civil servant experts on global goals;

- many others.

It is a documented history of some of the editor's thoughts, errors, flaws and actions.

It is a commentary on the reasoning, or lack of it, behind some statements about large numbers of people, where the conclusions are claimed to be based on social science - and a commentary on reasoning, or lack of it, behind global goals.

The work seems to be prompting the editor to be clearer on what he thinks the aims of politics should be.   

It does not claim to be comprehensive on Covid-19, climate change or financial flows.





Over 1000 documents on global goals and claims about global progress. Revised September 2021. 

These include UN resolutions, academic research papers, school examination papers, and other documents; and excerpts.

The material is largely in date order.  It is a work in progress.  

Please read the file "Notes on the material".

Many file names give key facts about accurate or inaccurate claims in the documents.

If any file names are too long to download, you can copy the file name to a text file, and shorten the downloaded file name, and/or download to a directory with a shorter file path on your device.

In some files, parts are highlighted and/or reformatted for clarity.

A note on screenshots:

Some images have been edited, for example to remove distracting elements, or move elements together for emphasis.

Edited by Matt Berkley





Is GlobalFactCheck.org a member of the International Fact-Checking Network?


It has a requirement for members to be "non-partisan", or impartial.

While this requirement may seem sensible - at least at first - I'm not sure it's realistic given people's inbuilt biases/prejudices.

I look mostly at organisations and material with power/influence.

If I think it's appropriate, and can find a way, to fit my aims and work to what seem to me these unrealistic and perhaps misleading IFCN requirements, or they modify their requirements, I may apply in future.



This content is also available via UNgoals.org .



More documents:

Some public material by Matt Berkley

Some drafts and communications on large, widespread errors about economics used for policies


Other sources of information:

millenniumdeclaration.org shows how UN goals can be misreported by civil servants, academics and journalists, and shows other misinformation related to the Millennium Declaration - also at poornews.org .

On the theory of economics used to justify policies and measures (including so-called "economic growth") and the misreporting of economic statistics by economists and others:







2021-09-03. Lancet Commission on water, sanitation and hygiene is liable to mislead by writing of 'ambitious SDG', omitting more ambitious pre-existing UN goals in Agenda 21 and Least Developed Countries programme.


2021-02-28. BBC "Reality Check" strangely assumes World Bank "poverty" claims show reality - without any clear basis in evidence or reasoning.


2021-03-30. Elsevier claims SDGs are to finish work 'started in 2000', confusing MDGs with more ambitious 2000-baseline pledges of 2000 and misleading by omitting the existing UN sustainable development agenda, Agenda 21.

2020-06. UN department publishes misleading claim that SDGs are the global blueprint instead of human rights agreements, agreed principles and goals


2020 to 2022 material - Cambridge Assessment misleads that UN kept ambition of targets.

2020 marine targets. UN Environment Programme omits the SDG targets for 2020 from ocean information for students. For Oxford Cambridge and RSA course.


2020 'SDG' targets under-publicised. There are 21 'SDG' targets for 2020 but the public are instead told much more about 2030.


2020 and 2025 UN Goals for water and sanitation. Matt Berkley draft.

2019-10-12 RoyalStatScandal. Documentary evidence - Royal Statistical Society false and misleading claims. Matt Berkley draft.

2019-08-03 The UN development agenda - some agreed aims. Draft. Matt Berkley


2019-03-28 Time to end the myth of global income poverty claims. New version of 2011 submission to UK Parliament Committee. Matt Berkley.


2019-03-15 Poor news - BBC misled humanity on goals and progress. Matt Berkley.


2019-02-27 On economics - some writing from 2000 onwards. Matt Berkley draft.


2019-01-27 UN report misleads that 2020 Programme goals are 'aligned' with 2030 Agenda which has less ambitious goals for water and sanitation. State of the Least Developed Countries goals.


2019-01-18 The academic consensus which focuses on 'MDGs' and 'SDGs' is wrong. Matt Berkley draft.


2019-01-18 Some UN goals in order. Matt Berkley draft.


2019-01-03 German government funds 'World Poverty Clock' without information on inflation faced by poor people, changing needs, assets or debts.


2019-01-01 Lancet misleads yet again on what UN members agreed in 2000 and 2002, and reaffirmed subsequently, on child mortality aims.


2019 to 2021 Cambridge International syllabus focuses on easier 'MDGs' not more ambitious and broader UN agenda reaffirmed by world leaders in 2005, 2010 and 2015.


2019 specification Edexcel school examination board error. Liable to give students understated impression of Millennium Declaration pledges. 'MDGs 2000'. Specification for global citizenship course.


2019 onwards Cambridge error. 'Poverty' numbers do not use a real US dollar. May mislead if confuses malnutrition or undernourishment with low calories.


2018-12-20 UN members reaffirm Agenda 21, which has water and sanitation goals for 2025 rather than the SDGs' 2030.


2018-12-18 'all statistics...in our statistics of the year' are 'really thoroughly fact-checked'.  But solar power error and 'Poverty halved' claim contradicts Royal Statistical Society's own statements. BBC Radio 4 Today.


2018-12-18 Royal Statistical Society's globally-publicised claim on a human poverty trend conflicts with its 2015 press release stating there is a lack of basic data about people's economic circumstances.


2018-11-28 Guardian misleads by giving same date and time to altered story as original one. Manafort Assange claim.


2018-11-15 BBC website shows only one result for 117 world leaders' agreement of 1995. BBC misleads by referring to 'halving poverty by 2015' instead of real goals including health for all and halving under-5 child malnutrition, both by 2000.

2018-11-07 Google promoting fake news - Wikipedia article equating '2030 Agenda' with SDGs which are in fact only part of it.


2018-11-07  Google promoting fake information that what was agreed in 2000 was the easier 'MDGs'.


2018-10-28 Harvard Law repeated information liable to mislead that 'MDGs' with easier targets are what was agreed in 2000.


2018-10-26 draft. Goals of water and sanitation for all humans. Existing UN goals in Agenda 21, reaffirmed 2017. Matt Berkley


2018-10-19 UN Library misleads that Millennium Declaration decided values rather than time-bound goals. Fails to mention agreed goals other than 'MDGs' whose targets weakened actual pledges of 2000.


2018-10-19 UN Library error that MDGs are what was agreed in 2000.  


2018-10-17. World Bank misleads that 3 per cent 'poverty' goal is 'aligned' with 2030 Agenda - which has zero goal.


2018-10-17 World Bank report misleads by calling fixed money amount 'monetary poverty'. Misleads that 3 per cent goal is 'aligned' with 2030 Agenda.  


2018-10-16 Millennium Human Rights Goals in Millennium Declaration. Index in Global Lies? Matt Berkley.


2018-10-16 Errors in school examination papers and instructions for markers. From index. Global lies? Matt Berkley.png


2018-10-11 Oxford Handbooks still understating Millennium pledges.pdf


2018-10-04 Harvard Law error - '169 specific targets to be achieved by 2030'.  


2018-10-01 Encyclopaedia Britannica still understates Millennium pledges by confusing with 1990-baseline 'MDGs'.pdf


2018-10 Article confuses calories and nourishment, MDGs and Millennium pledges, and MDGs and SDGs with UN agenda. Journal of Ethics - American Medical Association.


2018-09-26 UN 2020 goals. Least Developed Countries 'reiterate firm commitment to the implementation of the Istanbul Programme'.


2018-09-25 Washington Post omits 2020 and 2025 UN goals - 'countries committed to achieving 17 objectives by 2030'.


2018-09-23 Kate Osamor UK Labour’s shadow international development secretary on structural changes necessary to solve global poverty. Claims only 800 million people are malnourished. Labour’s vision. Morning Star.


2018-09-19 World Bank continues to present 'poverty' numbers which its own methodology paper says are unreliable - for example countries change the questions - and which confuse spending with prosperity.


2018-09-11 FAO again wrongly claims that 'severe food insecurity' is the indicator for SDG 2.1.2. It is in fact 'moderate or severe'.  


2018-09 onwards. Edexcel school exam board says 'purchasing power parity' is based on a 'basket' but in fact opinion must play a significant part as to what is equivalent. International-A-Level-Economics-SAMs.


2018-08-24 'I still don't believe Corbyn is antisemitic – but his 'irony' comments unquestionably were' - Simon Hattenstone - Opinion - The Guardian. with draft notes by Matt Berkley


2018-08-18 Helen Clark distracts yet again from the specific Millennium pledges she agreed in 2000.


2018-08-15 Australian Government misleads that there are no SDG targets for 2020 or 2025 - '169 targets to be met by 2030' .... 'which aim to wipe out poverty'.


2018-07-23 Stanford University error - SDGs are not 'the embodiment of the global agenda for development through 2030' but part of it.


2018-07-19 The 2025 goals of water and sanitation for all are omitted again from Secretary-General report on Agenda 21 while he claims it is a comprehensive analysis of its unfinished business.  


2018-07-01 undernourished _ Definition of undernourished in English by Oxford Dictionaries.


2018-07 UN's agreed goals from conferences and summits are supposed to be implemented - agenda items for July UN meeting. Note stated intention to implement resolutions eg 57 270B and 67 290. Mandate is all relevant conferences and summits. ECOSOC.


2017-03-15 BBC Trustees mislead in decision. From Matt Berkley email to BBC Trust highlighted 2.htm


2017-03-10 BBC guidance note - editorial guidelines issues Reporting Statistics highlighted.pdf

2017-03-09 Royal Statistical Society understates Millennium promises again. West Midlands local group and International Development section joint meeting_ Measuring sustainable development _ StatsLife.html


2017-03-05 PolitiFact misleads in claiming the 'global poverty rate' fell under 10 per cent with no analysis of changing need. Facebook.pdf

2017-03-05 PolitiFact misleads by claiming 'global poverty rate' fell under 10 per cent without considering need, and confusing poverty with extreme poverty.


2017-03 UK Government understates Millennium pledges yet again even after UK Statistics Authority said it 'will raise' the issue with Department for International Development.

2017-03 UK Government understates its Millennium pledges even after UK Statistics Authority stated it would 'raise the issue' with the Department. Second sentence of introduction. Agenda-2030-Report4.pdf

2017-03 UK Government understates its Millennium pledges even after UK Statistics Authority stated it would 'raise the issue' with the Department. Second sentence of introduction. Agenda-2030-Report4 highlighted 2.pdf


2017-03 OECD '169 tasks by 2030' 2030-Agenda-in-results highlighted.pdf

2017-02-27 House of Commons Library MDG error after National Statistician, the former HoC librarian, is informed of the error.docx


2017-02-17 UK House of Commons Library misleads even after its former chief, the National Statistician, was told in person of the inaccuracy and his current organisation the UK Statistics Authority recognised its error.htm


2017-02-06 World's Largest Lesson and Richard Curtis BBC output misleads children. Matt Berkley Correspondence to Richard Curtis and Project Everyone After this the organisations continued to mislead.txt


2017 Cambridge strange idea that wellbeing can be shown by unreliable World Bank claims on what people spend. 9696_s17_er.pdf

2017 Cambridge error in exam paper insert. 'Clean' water O Level geography fig 15 for question 8 2217_s17_in_22 highlighted.pdf

2017 Cambridge error in exam paper 'clean' water. question paper geography igcse 0460_s17_4_2_qp highlighted.pdf


2017. BBC still misleads children that it knows about safe water despite altering material after complaint in 2013 and acknowledging further complaint that it had repeated the error.

2016-04-01 Africa Check publishes PolitiFact research. Perhaps good points but fails to distinguish school enrolment and full course completion. Omits Education for All goals, mentions 'Millennium' goals.


2016-03-25 PolitiFact understates world leaders' pledges of 2000 by confusing with 'MDGs'. Inadequate challenge to 'poverty' claims based on spending. MDG2 is in fact on complete course of education. 'Fact-checking USAID chief on global poverty and education'.

2016-03-25 PolitiFact error - understates Millennium pledges. Fails to note that enrolment is not an MDG - in fact completing a full course.

2016-03-23 PolitiFact error on UN goal set at 'dawn of new millennium'. Overstates thoroughness of World Bank method - 'consumption level' and 'adjust for inflation'. 'Did we really reduce extreme poverty by half in 30 years'

2016-03-02 PolitiFact says 'poverty' method excludes in-kind benefits but still rates claim 'mostly true'. Sanders_ Welfare reform more than doubled 'extreme poverty'


2016-02-23 All conferences and summits are mandate of ECOSOC, say G77 and China.


2016-02-22 UK National Audit Office upholds complaint on UN goals both pages boxed.png

2016-02-22 UK National Audit Office reply 22 Feb 2016 highlighted.pdf


2016-02-22 UK National Audit Office admits repeated error on Millennium Summit pledges. Highlighted.pdf

2016-02-22 UK National Audit Office admits repeated error on Millennium Summit pledges highlighted page 2.png

2016-02-22 UK National Audit Office admits repeated error on Millennium Summit pledges highlighted page 1

2016-02-22 UK National Audit Office admits repeated error on Millennium Summit pledges highlighted 6_2  

2016-02-17 Full Fact presents spending numbers as measuring poverty without considering need.  

2016-02-08 G77 and China statement High-level Midterm Review of the Istanbul Programme of Action for Least Developed Countries.


2016-01-25 Misleading content in BBC Trustees' decision. Matt Berkley email to BBC Trust highlighted.htm

2016-01-18 UN Secretary General 'Comprehensive report' on Least Developed Countries Programme omits key water and sanitation goals for 2020.

2016-01-16 Lancet ombudsman's inaccurate and misleading public response. Corrections by Matt Berkley

2016-01-13 Harvard International Review error that MDGs are what was adopted in 2000.

2016-01-07 Ex-research director of World Bank understates Millennium pledge using wrong baseline. Martin Ravallion. Oxford University Press.

2016-01 BBC fails to answer complaints. Trustees misled. Matt Berkley.

2016. Goals for 2020 omitted from experts' event description. 'Reimagining development in Least Developed Countries_ what role for the SDGs' - Institute of Development Studies.


2015-11-12 Lancet persists in understating Millennium pledges on saving lives. Amherst, WHO, Harvard, University of California authors.

2015-11-12 Lancet Millennium Summit pledge error  

2015-11-11 Fake news from the BBC. UK MPs' committee inquires into fake news in 2018 yet took the unusual step of failing publish evidence on fake news in 2015.


2015-11-11 Fake news from the BBC. UK MPs' committee inquires into fake news in 2018 yet failed to act on or publish evidence on fake news in 2015.


2015-11-04 Africa Check understates Millennium pledges by claiming Millennium Development Goals 'set at the turn of the century'.


2015-11-03 Poverty cannot be assessed without information on water. Matt Berkley.


2015-11 Rosling BBC quiz error on Africa

2015-11 Complaint to BBC. Coverage of world poverty. Rosling quiz errors and strange claims are part of a BBC pattern.

2015-10-27 No statistics on water safety, but we do know how many people's basic needs are not met, ie in extreme poverty. Matt Berkley.

2015-10-23 Factcheck Georgia appears to confuse MDG and Millennium pledge targets on child mortality. Unclear why uses 16 per 1000 as target.  


2015-10-20 Error by American Statistical Association, Royal Statistical Society, International Statistical Institute and nearly 50 other global statistical institutes MDGs 2000 World-Statistics-Day-October-20-2015.pdf

2015-10-19 Agenda 21 and Sustainable Development conference and summit implementation. UN General Assembly Second Committee report

2015-10-17 Steven Pinker recommends BBC Rosling quiz containing two misleading answers out of seven one of which was later removed by BBC.


2015 Irish Government misleads with World's Largest Lesson.

2015 International Bar Association publishes misleading contrast between 'MDGs' and 'SDGs' ignoring the UN sustainable development agenda from 1992, 2002 and 2012 .html

2015 International Bar Association error 'MDGs 15 years ago'.


2012 BBC More or Less wrongly gives MDG water target another 10 years even after just reading it.


2011-07-14 Time to end the myth of official poverty measurement - excerpts. Reformatted. Some errors struck out. Evidence published by UK House of Lords committee. Matt Berkley.


2010-09-21 Channel 4 News - several errors. '$US1.25'. '920, 000'. 'the first goal' - in fact includes hunger. Presents misleading information from World Bank - 'poverty'. Target is not for 'developing world' .

2010-09 Tony Blair understates his own Millennium pledges. He had reaffirmed the pledges alongside other leaders at the 2005 UN Summit,  which the General Assembly organised with the stated intention of reviewing them.

2010-09 Sheikh Hasina understates her own Millennium pledges even though she is reaffirming them at this 2010 UN Summit.


2008 MDG Official List falsely claims that the easier targets are from the Millennium Declaration - as did the previous list. In fact the Declaration says nothing about 1990. MDG 7c on water does not mention 1990.


2007-10-31 UN development agenda is from the major conferences,  not 'MDGs',  India says or implies.


2007-07-31 Bush, Singh, Lula,  Merkel, Brown, Sarkozy, Abe,  Barroso, Harper, Kufuor,  Prodi,  Scrates, Stoltenberg, Zapatero mislead on Millennium pledges.


2007-03-07 Widespread fallacy that income equals profit. Matt Berkley.


2007-03-07 Mistakes about economics widespread among both governments and their critics. Humanity and social science. Matt Berkley.


2007-01-31 Ethics test for social science. Matt Berkley.


2007 Bill Clinton misstates his Millennium pledges despite having supported the Millennium Report with 15-year timescale not 1990.


2004-11-22 Other agreements as important as Millennium Declaration,  say Group of 77 and China - excerpts.


2004-10-20. Comment on economics,  policies and poverty published on Columbia Daily Spectator website. Matt Berkley.


2004 UN's top lawyer refers to 'Millennium Development Goals formulated by the United Nations'. In reality the nations keep reaffirming the more ambitious pledges from the Millennium Declaration and Johannesburg commitments.


2003-11-28 Discoverer of Global Poverty Error Calls for Statistics on Survival. Published in Addis Tribune newspaper,  2003. Similar or identical to media release from Matt Berkley.


2003-06-17 1015. Ten fundamental problems in the theory of welfare economics. Matt Berkley.


2003-06-07 Economic research flaws may have led to wrong policies for the poor. Letter published in Taipei Times newspaper.  


2003-05-28 Fundamental problems in welfare economics. Emailed to Kenneth Arrow.  


2003-01-26 Mortality error in economic theory. Paper rejected by Sussex University Eldis document publicising service though others now making the same point. Matt Berkley.htm

2003 UN MDG Indicators Handbook falsely claims easier MDG targets are in Millennium Declaration. Malloch Brown contradicts his statement of 2000 referring to halving poverty in 15 years. highlighted.


2002 UN Statistics Division misleads that Millennium Declaration has a 1990 baseline


2002 The baseline is 2000 for water goal in Millennium Declaration,  says United Nations Environment Programme Secretariat.


2001-10-15 Complaint to UK Government on 'fundamental issue' of mortality error in economics. Secretary of State was sent email. Extracts from document written as reminder of contents. Matt Berkley.


2001-10-10 Statistics and Survival. Letter to the Economist magazine. Major error by the economics profession. Not published in the magazine. Matt Berkley.


2001-10-05 To Carl Emmerson,  Institute for Financial Studies. Survival rates are essential for social science to infer benefits to people. Matt Berkley.


2001-04-23 Burden of proof is on social scientist to prove mortality rates not relevant. Matt Berkley.


2001-04-11 Economics of survival. To Jeffrey Sachs. Same day - conversation with Eric Swanson,  head of World Development Indicators project at World Bank. Matt Berkley highlighted.

2001-04-09 'Any measure of progress against poverty is 'only meaningful if it takes into account the survival rates.' Draft.


2001-04-03 Taking mortality into account when measuring welfare outcomes. No measure should look better as a result of deaths. Email 'Life and Death' to Maria Eugenia Bonilla-Chacin. Matt Berkley


2001 Agenda 21 should not be renegotiated - EU Council .pdf


2000-09-02 Guardian correctly states Millennium Declaration baseline - halve 'the 22 per cent' 'now' existing' 'within 15 years'. But later the Guardian contradicted this by wrongly claiming there was an easier 1990 baseline.png


2000-08-03 Mortality flaw. Email on flaw in social science to Jonathan Morduch. Matt Berkley. highlighted 4.htm


2000-07-27 Death rates influence income statistics. HIV. Blindingly obvious. From email to Simon Maxwell on a fundamental error in economic theory. Matt Berkley 4.htm


2000-06-25 Economists' poverty advice uses wrong average. Matt Berkley notes.htm

The above are a selection.  Dates given are for:

- the misleading information;

- the primary source;

- a UN  or other target's deadline;

- the intended period of use of the misleading material (for example, from school examination boards)


- the fact-check, search or analysis.