Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Millennium Development Goals – Are we getting there?

By Ana Svab

When launching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), United Nations Secretary-General BAN Ki-moon said that the “Goals are ambitious but feasible and, together with the comprehensive United Nations development agenda, set the course for the world’s efforts to alleviate extreme poverty by 2015." So how far have we progressed on this journey? The answer is: quite far, but not far enough. According to the 2011 Millennium Development Goals Report, some of the global targets are likely to be met, while others will probably be missed.

The eight MDGs have been agreed to by all the world’s countries and all the world’s leading development institutions. They range from halving extreme poverty, to providing universal primary education and achieving gender equality. The MDG website states that: “They have galvanized unprecedented efforts to meet the needs of the world’s poorest.” Obviously, perspectives on progress depend on the part of the globe we are looking at, as well as which goals we are reviewing. So let’s see how we’re getting on:

1. Goal 1 – Eradicate extreme poverty and huger

Sounds ambitious, doesn’t it? However, “sustained growth in developing countries, particularly in Asia, is keeping the world on track to meet the poverty-reduction target”. Unfortunately, this does not mean that less people are going hungry – the number stands stubbornly at 16%, and the report admits that it will be “difficult to meet the hunger-reduction target in many regions of the developing world”.

2. Goal 2 – Achieve universal primary education

“To achieve universal primary education, children everywhere must complete a full cycle of primary schooling. Current statistics show that the world is far from meeting that goal”.

3. Goal 3 – Promote gender equality and empower women

The progress made on achieving this goal is clearly dependant on the geographical region. The progress will also depend on the nature of comparison made. “Representation by women in parliament is at an all-time high, but falls shamefully short of parity”. Quite a few of the women I know would claim that this disparity still causes wars, economic meltdowns, and, well, most major world problems in general!

4. Goal 4 – Reduce child mortality

There is steady progress being made to reduce child mortality, with the greatest success being found in Northern Africa and Eastern Asia, though children from rural households are still at a greater risk.

5. Goal 5 – Improve maternal health

Progress has been made, but maternal mortality remains a major problem in many developing countries, due to unskilled childbirth, unmonitored pregnancies, poor reproductive health, low use of contraceptives and adolescent pregnancies.

6. Goal 6 – Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases

“New HIV infections are declining”! Though there is still a lot of work to be done, especially in some parts of the world, this is good news.

7. Goal 7 – Ensure environmental sustainability

“Global greenhouse gas emissions continue their ascent”. Will we achieve this goal? Maybe. But we will all have to do our bit as individuals to reduce flights and travel, reduce consumption and recycle more. More importantly, we will have to do much more as employees and employers to change the way we do business and influence our supply chain and customers to become more sustainable.

8. Goal 8 – Develop a global partnership for development

With the existence of multinational and “multi-continental” organisations, such as the European Union and the United Nations, one would think we have already achieved this. Yet challenges remain, not least closing the digital divide by enabling internet access to the other two thirds of the world.

To conclude, across the different MDGs, progress is being made, and some of the targets will be met by 2015. However, we still have a long way to go, and most of these targets will only be achieved if we all make an effort. So roll up your sleeves!



2) Millennium Development Goals Report 2011