What Have the Millennium Development Goals Achieved? In 2000, the United Nations set out on a clearly defined mission to end global poverty by means of tackling eight core areas of need. Now we are looking back, 15 years later, and seeing how successful the UN was in meeting their goals-and where the new Sustainability Goals will need to take up the slack.
The Millennium Development Goals were designed as a framework for developing impoverished nations by addressing the most critical needs of the society, like reliable food sources, access to education, and adequate health care.
Each goal had specific targets which the United Nations hoped they would meet by 2015. Some goals had more success than others.
The UN’s goal of halving global poverty was met with resounding success, as the number of people living on less than one dollar and 25 cents a day dropped from one point nine billion in 1990, to 836 million in 2015. An estimated 14 percent of the global population are living in extreme poverty today, down from nearly half in 1990.
The reduction in the proportion of undernourished people globally narrowly missed its target, coming within two percent of the 50 percent reduction goal. Though narrowly missing their target, given the exponential human population growth over the last three two decades, it is still a considerable success.
The goals suffered two more near misses in their attempts to increase educational opportunities for all, including establishing gender equality in schools. An estimated 10 percent of children are not receiving any formal education, and only about two -thirds of developing countries have achieved gender equality in the classroom.
Goals four and five of the Millennium Goals, which addressed child and maternal mortality, respectively, both failed to meet their targets. While both the mortality rate of children under five and maternal deaths were reduced by over half, both failed to reach the two-thirds reduction target.
Goal six, stop and reverse the spread of HIV/AIDs, malaria, and other diseases was similarly not met in the given 15 year time frame. Although the rate of new HIV/AIDS infections has fallen by around 40 percent, an estimated two point one million people are still being infected annually. The fight against malaria and other diseases prevalent in developing areas has seen more success however, with an estimated six point two million malaria deaths averted between 2000 and 2015.
The final two goals of the 2000 Millennium Development Goals tackled strengthening infrastructure, sustainable development, and international partnership. While both goals are still on-going endeavors, over the last decade, two point six billion people have gained access to improved drinking water and official development assistance to developing nations has risen by nearly seven percent.
Overall, the United Nations has experienced great success in their struggle to address the needs of the poor around the world, but they are the first to admit that more work is needed. In the official Millennium Development Goals report, released earlier this month, Wu Hongbo Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs admitted that success has been uneven across developing nations. “Millions of people are being left behind, especially the poorest and those disadvantaged because of their sex, age, disability, ethnicity or geographic location. Targeted efforts will be needed to reach the most vulnerable people,” said Hongbo.
The Quick and Dirty of Hits and Misses:
Goal #1: Target goal met and exceeded
Goal #2: Target goal nearly achieved
Goal #3: Not met
Goal #4: Not met
Goal #5: Not met
Goal #6: Not met
Goal #7: Target achieved ahead of schedule
Goal #8: No target specified, on-going action
The Sustainable Development Goals of 2015 will pick up where the Millennium Goals left off and continue to guide the United Nations as they work to eradicate global poverty.
– Gina Lehner