PEACE in Action
The Millennium Development Goals: A Status Report
A Program Created by Members of the United Nations
The Millennium Development Goals
A Status Report
In September 2000, world leaders agreed at the United Nations (UN) upon the Millennium Declaration, which distills the key goals and targets agreed to at international conferences and world summits during the 1990s. Drawing on the Declaration, the UN System, the World Bank, and the Organization for European Community Development (OECD) drew up a set of eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) with associated targets and indicators. By the year 2015, 191 UN Member States pledged to meet the MDGs.
In September 2010, the UN met to review the progress made and to target additional needs to meet the goals. Crucial elements in meeting the MDGs are:
The MDG Gap Task Force looked at these indicators and prepared a report to submit to UN members for their September conference at the UN on the status of MDG progress. The principal findings reported by the Task Force are as follows:
Global Official Development Assistance (ODA)
The commitment for 2010 is $145.7 billion in annual ODA to meet the 2005 Gleneagles pledge of $50 billion (in 2004 dollars) increase by traditional donors, i.e., members of the OECD's Development Assistance Committee (DAC). The amount provided in 2009 ($119.6 billion) was $26.1 billion less than the Gleneagle pledge for 2010. The report recommended that: 1) the DAC countries recommit to the still-standing UN target of 0.7 percent of gross national income devoted to ODA, and 2) deliver on 2010 aid effectiveness targets and agree on a renewed set of targets beyond 2010.
Official Development Assistance for Africa
The commitment for 2010 is $61.5 in annual ODA to meet the Gleneagles pledge of $25 billion (in 2004 dollars) increase by DAC donors. The delivery in 2009 was $43.9 million, leaving a gap of $17.6 billion less than the 2010 pledge. The report recommends the fulfillment of the commitment to Africa.
Aid to Least Developed Countries (LDCs)
Based on the endorsement of the 2001 Brussels Programme of Action of ODA that between 0.15 and 0.20 percent of DAC countries' gross national income (GNI) by 2010 should go to the LDCs, the commitment for 2010 would be $58.9 78.5 billion. The amount provided in 2008 was $35 billion, leaving a gap of $22.9 - $42.5 required to meet the 2010 target.
Aid as a Share of National Income of Donor Countries
The target of 0.7 percent of GNI, as agreed to by countries at the UN in 1971, would mean a commitment of $272.2 billion (in 2009 U.S. dollars). The $119.6 billion delivered in 2009 was only 0.31 percent of developed countries' combined national income. Again, the Report recommends a recommitment to the 0.7 target.
Market Access: Doha Round
The UN Millennium Declaration in 2000 pledged signatories to establish an "open, equitable, rulebased, predictable, and non-discriminatory multilateral trading and financial system." The Doha Round of trade talks was launched in 2001 largely to fulfill this goal, and the G20 aimed for completion in 2010. However, the Doha Round is not completed, and negotiations are at an impasse. The Report recommends that the developed countries: 1) intensify efforts to conclude the Doha Round within a realistic timeframe; 2) dismantle protectionist measures taken during the economic crisis; and 3) accelerate delivery on commitments by developed countries to eliminate all agricultural export subsidies, and support measures with the same effect.
Duty-Free Access for LDC Exports
By recommendation of the World Trade Organization's 2005 Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration, 97 percent of LDC products for export should benefit from duty-free and quota-free access to developed country markets. In 2008, 81 percent of developed country imports from LDCs, excluding arms and oil, were admitted free of duty. The report recommends an acceleration of progress towards the goal.
The commitment was that debt problems of all developing countries should be dealt with comprehensively through national and international measures in order to make debt sustainable in the long term. As of 2010, 35 of 40 "eligible" countries have reached the Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) "decision point" and are receiving debt relief of $58.5 billion, measured in end-2009 net present value. Twenty-five of the 35 countries have reached their "completion point," receiving an additional $27 billion in debt relief through the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI). Dozens of developing countries have fallen into debt distress, or are at high risk of debt distress, because of the global financial crisis. The report recommends: 1) the completion of the HIPC and MDRI initiatives; 2) the extension of eligibility to participate in the HIPC initiative; and 3) ensuring that all debt relief is additional to ODA.
Access to Essential Medicines
The commitment was to make essential medicines available. The result in 2008 was that the median prices of essential medicines in developing countries were, on average, 2.7 times higher than international reference prices in the public sector and 6.3 times higher in the private sector. The Report's recommendations were: 1) encourage developing governments to increase the availability of medicines in the public sector and strengthen national health systems, supported by ODA; and 2) research and development (R&D) for selected diseases.
Access to New Technologies
The commitment was to make available the benefits of new technologies, especially information and communications technologies. While 100 percent of the population of developed countries have access to mobile cellular subscriptions, only 57 percent of the populations in the developing world have such access. Some 64 percent of the population in developed countries are internet users, compared to only 18 percent in the developing world. The Report's recommendation: in cooperation with the private sector, support continued rapid growth in access to mobile phones, as well as internet services, in developing countries.
The developing countries, in their meeting of the G20 in Seoul, Korea in November 2010, will be focusing on the MDG Gap report and its recommendations.
The foregoing indicates there is much to do, by developed and developing countries, if the MDGs are to be achieved by 2015. However, there are examples of progress in a number of the goals in a number of countries. The following examples were found online in July 2010 presented here by the specific MDG and its targets.
# 1 Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger
The targets are: a) Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than one dollar per day; b) achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people; and c) halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger. Examples of country progress include the following:
# 2 -- Achieve Universal Primary Education
The target is to ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling.
# 3 Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women
The target is to eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and in all levels of education by 2015.
# 4 Reduce Child Mortality
Target: Reduce by two-thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-five mortality rate.
# 5 Improve Maternal Health
Targets: 1) Reduce by three-fourths, between 1990 and 2015, the maternal mortality rate; and 2) achieve, by 2015, universal access to reproductive health.
# 6 Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and Other Diseases
Targets: 1) Have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS; 2) achieve, by 2010, universal access to treatment for HIV/AIDS for all those who need it; and 3) have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases.
# 7 Ensure Environmental Sustainability
Targets: 1) Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programs, and reverse the loss of environmental resources; 2) reduce biodiversity loss, achieving a significant reduction in the rate of loss by 2010; 3) halve by 2015 the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation; and 4) Achieve by 2020 a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers.
# 8 Develop a Global Partnership for Development
Targets: 1) Develop further an open, rule-based, predictable, non-discriminatory trading and financial system this includes a commitment to good governance, development, and poverty reduction (both nationally and internationally); 2) address the special needs of the least developed countries (specific commitments discussed in the MDG Gap Report at the beginning of this article); 3) address the special needs of the landlocked developing countries and small island developing states; 4) deal comprehensively with the debt problems of developing countries through national and international measures in order to make debt sustainable in the long term; 5) in cooperation with pharmaceutical companies, provide access to affordable essential drugs in developing countries; and 6) in cooperation with the private sector, make available the benefits of new technologies, especially information and communications.
The High-Level Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly, which met September 20-22, 2010 to review progress in achieving the MDGs, approved a 32-page Outcome Document. Some of the conclusions and major points in the Document are listed below:
"We recognize that progress, including in poverty eradication, is being made despite setbacks (e.g. the financial and economic crisis). ... We are deeply concerned, however, that the number of people living in extreme poverty and hunger surpasses 1 billion, and that inequalities between and within countries remains a significant challenge. We are also deeply concerned about the alarming global levels of maternal and child mortality."
In the Document, the UN members commit to making every effort to achieve the MDGs by 2015. They also express confidence that the MDGs can be achieved, including in the poorest countries. They state that national ownership and leadership are indispensable to the development process, and that good governance and the rule of law are also essential. They recognized that gender equality, the empowerment of women, women's enjoyment of all human rights, and the eradication of poverty are essential to the achievement of the MDGs.
The Members recognized that all of the MDGs are interconnected and mutually reinforcing. They also acknowledged the diversity of the world and recognized that all cultures and civilizations contribute to the enrichment of humankind. They called on civil society, including non-governmental organizations, voluntary associations and foundations, the private sector, and other relevant stakeholders at the local, national, regional, and global levels, to enhance their role in national development efforts, as well as their contribution to the achievement of the MDGs.
Based on lessons learned and successful policies and approaches, the Document sets forth 19 actions for consideration by national governments and organizations and their international helpers. In addition, the Document sets a number of commitments to be made for achieving each MDG. They requested an annual review by the GA of MDG progress, and a special event in 2013 for follow-up.
Editor's Comment: Success in achieving the goals requires a major effort by each of the developing countries, but significant achievements will only be accomplished if the developed countries increase their support to the program.
Creating a better world for the developing countries is also in the interest of international peace and, therefore, is in the interest of the more developed countries. Although not specifically mentioned in this article, many nongovernmental organizations and talented individuals from countries around the world are also contributing significantly to the achievement of the MDGs.
May the effort be successful in all countries!(The information provided in this article came mostly from various parts of the United Nations website: (www.un.org); however, the latter part about the High-Level Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly was drawn from the meeting's Outcome Document (UNGA A/65/L.1).)