Have the UN Millennium Development Goals been achieved?


Article by, Katherine Wong

In 2000, eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were set and adopted by all of the UN Member States. The target year of 2015 for achieving these goals is fast approaching and so far MDGs are seen as the most successful global anti-poverty push in history. But what have we achieved and what happens after 2015?

The MDGs (see image) range from eradicating extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV / AIDS and provide universal primary education. Each of the goals include a set of targets and several of these have already been met. Some of the achievements include:

  • Poverty rates at the global level have halved and about 700 million fewer people lived in conditions of extreme poverty in 2010 than 1990.
  • Over 2.1 billion people gained access to improved sources of drinking water and almost 1.9 billion people gained access to sanitation facilities since 1990.
  • The child mortality rate has dropped by 41% since 1990; 14,000 fewer children are dying each day.
  • In 2011, 230,000 fewer children under 15 were infected with HIV than in 2001.

The MDGs have helped to focus efforts but some areas still require more work. For instance, 6.9 million children under five still died in 2011 mostly from preventable diseases, global emissions of CO2 have increased by more than 46% since 1990 and too many children are still denied their right to primary education. Global success is also distorted by some regions doing much better than others – China in particular led way in lifting global poverty while it has remained widespread in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia.

The Post-2015 International Development Agenda

There is still much to do and it will be important to continue the momentum of the MDGs after 2015. At the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development in June 2012, it was agreed that a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be developed which will be adopted as soon as the target date for the MDGs in 2015 is reached. Extensive work is underway to inform the post-2015 agenda and a range of organisations have provided input into the process. As part of the consultation process, over 1.5 million people from almost 200 countries have already taken part in the MY World global survey which asks the question: “Which of these are most important for you and your family? Choose 6”. The ranking of priorities so far are shown below. The graph shows that good education, better healthcare and better job opportunities are generally seen as very important whereas action against climate change, reliable energy and political freedoms are seen as relatively less important. It also highlights how those over 55s and in very high Human Development Index (HDI) countries have noticeably different priorities compared to everyone else. What if these are the main decision-makers in setting the future SDGs?


un-02Source: http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/