World leaders are gathering in New York over the next two days to assess progress on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and discuss ways to meet the 2015 deadline for reaching them. What do they hope to achieve in the next five years?
For MDG 1, "Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger," the concrete goals are to:
• Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than $1 a day.
• Achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people.
• Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger.
For MDG 2, "Achieve Universal Primary Education," the goal is to:
• Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling.
According to this UN fact sheet, current enrollment numbers are not high enough to meet the goal, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, although primary school enrollment in developing nations has increased since 2000. You can read more about the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)'s literacy programs here.
For MDG 3, "Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women," the goal is to:
• Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and in all levels of education no later than 2015.
As reported in this UN fact sheet, efforts are currently falling short of this goal. Girls and women are making gains in education, but men still outnumber women in paid employment, and -- to a large degree -- in politics. In 2010, women made up only 19 percent of the world's parliamentary positions. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's IssuesMelanne Verveer has suggested that achieving MDG 3 is a prerequisite for meeting the other Millennium Goals. You can read her remarks here. USAID's "Women in Development" program information is available here.
For MDG 4, "Reduce Child Mortality," the goal is to:
• Reduce by two thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-five mortality rate.
This UN fact sheet reports that a few countries defined as having high child mortality rates are on track to meet the goal, but others still face challenges. Almost nine million children each year die before their fifth birthday, with half those deaths occurring in sub-Saharan Africa. Information about some U.S. programs that are making a difference is available here.
For MDG 5, "Improve Maternal Health," the goals are to:
• Reduce by three quarters the maternal mortality ratio.
• Achieve universal access to reproductive health.
This UN fact sheet describes progress toward maternal health as significant, but slow. Nearly all the deaths are occurring in developing countries, and most would be preventable if there were access to adequate reproductive health services, equipment, supplies and skilled healthcare workers. USAID reports on recent progress here. Information on the President's Global Health Initiative is available here.
For MDG 6, "Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and Other Diseases," the goals are to:
• Have halted by 2015, and begun to reverse, the spread of HIV/AIDS.
• Achieve, by 2010, universal access to treatment for HIV/AIDS for all those who need it.
• Have halted by 2015, and begun to reverse, the incidence of malaria and other major diseases.
According to this UN fact sheet, there has been tangible progress toward this goal. The number of new HIV infections fell steadily from 1996 to 2008, and deaths from AIDS-related illnesses have dropped. However, more than 7,400 people around the world are infected with HIV each day, and 5,500 die daily from AIDS- related illnesses. HIV remains the leading cause of death among reproductive-age women worldwide. USAID reports on progress against infectious diseases at this site; additional information from the State Department is available here; and information from the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is available here.
For MDG 7, "Ensure Environmental Sustainability," the goals are to:
• Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes and reverse the loss of environmental resources.
• Reduce biodiversity loss, achieving, by 2010, a significant reduction in the rate of loss.
• Halve, by 2015, the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.
• By 2020, to have achieved a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers.
This UN fact sheet claims a mixed record of achievement: the world is on track to meet the targets for access to drinking water and has already met the goal of improving life for slum-dwellers. The benchmarks for improving sanitation and preserving biodiversity, however, may remain out of reach in the next five years. USAID presents its environmental programs here; State Department programs are here.
For MDG 8, "Develop a Global Partnership for Development," the goals are to:
• Address the special needs of least developed countries, landlocked countries and small island developing states.
• Develop further an open, rule-based, predictable, non-discriminatory trading and financial system.
• Deal comprehensively with developing countries' debt.
• In cooperation with pharmaceutical companies, provide access to affordable essential drugs in developing countries.
• In cooperation with the private sector, make available benefits of new technologies, especially information and communications.
As reported in this UN fact sheet, there's good news to report in terms of rising aid levels, increasing access to markets, tarriff reductions, lower debt burdens, and better access to information and communication technology. In terms of aid volume, the largest donors in 2009 were the United States, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Japan. USAID discusses global partnerships here; the State Department, here.
As the United States has set forward in its stated strategy for meeting the Millennium Development Goals, "Enormous progress has been made toward meeting the MDGs, and we must recognize, celebrate, and support these achievements. Above all, credit belongs to the citizens and governments of countries that have prioritized development and invested in their people. These achievements are also testimony to the power of successful development partnerships, and the efforts of the United Nations and other multilateral agencies, donor governments, private business, and individuals from around the world."
Going forward, the United States is promoting four principles for further progress on the MDGs. Those are to:
• Leverage innovation.
• Invest in sustainability.
• Track development outcomes, not just dollars.
• Enhance the principle and the practice of mutual accountability.
You can read more about each of these principles, and how they can advance the specific benchmarks described above, in the United States strategy document for meeting the MDGs, which is available here.
Over the next few days, Ambassador Susan Rice, the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, will be focusing on the MDGs: working with international partners to advance their implementation, and moving towards a framework that will translate the world's highest ideals into concrete action. You can track the latest news from these meetings on her Twitter account, and don't forget to weigh in with your opinions here on DipNote.