At the year 2000 UN Millennium Summit, the nations of the world took a bold step, deciding on a set of ambitious -- yet realizable -- goals to make the world a better place by the year 2015. What was this set of goals? The eight Millennium Development Goals are designed to lift up the human community to a new level of development in eight key areas:
Goal 1 Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger:
the goal is to cut by 50 per cent the number of people who live on less than $1. per day and who suffer from hunger
Goal 2 Achieve universal primary education:
the goal is to make sure that all children have access to primary school education
Goal 3 Promote gender equality and empower women:
the goal is to ensure that boys and girls have equal access to primary and secondary school education by 2005, and to all levels by 2015
Goal 4 Reduce Child mortality:
the goal is to cut by two thirds the number of children under five who die from preventable causes
Goal 5 Improve maternal health:
the goal is to cut by two thirds the number of mothers who die from preventable causes
Goal 6 Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases:
the goal is to stop and to try to reverse the incidence of HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
Goal 7 Ensure environmental stability:
the goal is to reduce by 50 per cent the number of people without access to safe drinking water; reduce the number of slum dwellers by 2020
Goal 8 Develop a global partnership for development:
the goal is to promote greater access worldwide to open trade, new information and communications technologies, jobs for young people, debt relief, and other routes to increased development.
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Millennium Development Report
In his much-awaited 2007 Millennium Development Goals Report, Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon said, "The MDGs are still achievable if we act now. This will require inclusive sound governance, increased public investment, economic growth, enhanced productive capacity, and the creation of decent work."
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In other words, the nations of the world must remain committed to keeping a compassionate focus on the problems of the world and to working together to alleviate the suffering they cause. Even if serious political disagreements arise among some member-states, the latter cannot permit such conflicts to deter them from fulfilling the promises of the Millennium Development Goals.
Columbia University Professor Jeffrey Sachs is special Advisor to Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon and co-founding President of Millennium Promise Alliance, a nonprofit aimed at ending extreme global poverty. Professor Sachs says the world must "get serious" about addressing global issues that would alleviate suffering for poor nations. He reminds rich nations that "they've repeatedly said that they should take concrete steps toward an international target of 0.7 per cent for donor assistance, which would be 175 billion a year." Sachs goes on to say, "Compare that with the current rate of $50 billion a year. There is a gap of $125 billion between promise and delivery." Sachs feels that the rich countries have not been living up to their promises and potential to alleviate the dire problems of much of the world but he remains optimistic that change could come quickly. "The millennium," he said, "could be an opportunity for a breakthrough of the quality of life on the planet and a chance for the poor to escape lives of hunger and impoverishment."
Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Sha Zukang, stated in the 2011 Millennium Development Goals Report that the world is indeed taking steps to reduce global poverty. For example, "Targeted interventions have succeeded in reducing child mortality. The number of deaths of children under the age of five declined from 12.4 million in 1990 to 8.1 million in 2009. This means that nearly 12,000 fewer children are dying each day." In addition, enrolment in primary education in the developing world is also slowly increasing. The 2011 report states that, "Sub-Saharan Africa has the best record for improvement, with an 18-percentage-point gain between 1999 and 2009." We are also making gains in health care for pregnant women. The proportion of women (15-49 years old) attended at least once by skilled health personnel during pregnancy has increased worldwide. Northern Africa leads the way in this area, with a 28 per cent increase in number of women attended at least once during pregnancy.
While it is clear that progress has been made towards the 2015 Millennium Development Goals, there is still much work to be done. Zukang lists education and employment for girls and women, as well as equal access to drinking water and support for the growing population of urban poor as areas of significant concern.
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