Millennium Development Goals

The largest gathering of world leaders from 189 countries in September 2000 at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly as they ushered in the new millenium paved the way for the adoption of the Millennium Declaration. The Declaration outlines a vision and sets a roadmap for goals to be reached by 2015. These goals, which are based on the fundamental values of freedom, equality, solidarity, tolerance, health, respect for nature and shared responsibility inspired the formulation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs or MDG).

The eight MDGs were based on agreements made at United Nations conferences in the 1990s where member-countries committed to reduce poverty and hunger, make available health and education services, ease gender inequality, and alleviate environmental degradation, among others.

The MDGs, thus, becomes a form of blueprint agreed to by all the world’s countries and all the world’s leading development institutions as they pledged to combine their efforts and draw up programs to meet the needs of the world’s poorest.

Various websites of agencies under the United Nations tackle the MDGs. In essence, the MDGs:

  • synthesize, in a single package, many of the most important commitments made separately at international conferences and summits of the 1990s;
  • recognize explicitly the interdependence between growth, poverty reduction and sustainable development;
  • acknowledge that development rests on the foundations of democratic governance, the rule of law, respect for human rights and peace and security;
  • are based on time-bound and measurable targets accompanied by indicators for monitoring progress; and
  • bring together, in the eighth Goal, the responsibilities of developing countries with those of developed countries, founded on a global partnership endorsed at the International Conference on Financing for Development in Monterrey, Mexico in March 2002, and again at the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development in August 2002.

The eight MDGs contain 21 quantifiable targets:

Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.

  • Reduce by half the proportion of people living on less than a dollar a day
  • Achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people
  • Reduce by half the proportion of people who suffer from hunger

Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education

  • Ensure that all boys and girls complete a full course of primary schooling

Goal 3: Promote gender quality and empower women

  • Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education preferably by 2005, and at all levels by 2015

Goal 4: Reduce child mortality

  • Reduce by two thirds the mortality rate among children under five

Goal 5: Improve maternal health

  • Reduce by three quarters the maternal mortality ratio
  • Achieve, by 2015, universal access to reproductive health

Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases

  • Halt and begin to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS
  • Achieve, by 2010, universal access to treatment for HIV/AIDS for all those who need it
  • Halt and begin to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases

Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability

  • Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes; reverse loss of environmental resources
  • Reduce biodiversity loss, achieving, by 2010, a significant reduction in the rate of loss
  • Reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water
  • Achieve significant improvement in lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers, by 2020

Goal 8: Develop a global partnershp for development

  • Develop further an open, rule-based, predictable, non-discriminatory trading and financial system
  • Address the special needs of the least developed countries
  • Address the special needs of landlocked developing countries and small island developing States (through the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States and the outcome of the twenty-second special session of the General Assembly)
  • Deal comprehensively with the debt problems of developing countries through national and international measures in order to make debt sustainable in the long term
  • In cooperation with pharmaceutical companies, provide access to affordable essential drugs in developing countries
  • In cooperation with the private sector, make available the benefits of new technologies, especially information and communications

The eight MDGs and their 21 targets are measured by 60 identified indicators. For the complete list of indicators, check out www.undp.org/mdg.


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