The MDGs: Are we on track?

No. 4 Vol. XLIV 2007

Building upon the lessons of four decades of United Nations efforts, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) outline a universal framework for development: eradicate extreme poverty and hunger (Goal 1), achieve universal primary education (Goal 2), promote gender equality and empower women (Goal 3), reduce child mortality (Goal 4), improve maternal health (Goal 5), combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases (Goal 6), ensure environmental sustainability (Goal 7) and develop a global partnership for development (Goal 8). While these Goals are distinct, they are not to be understood as separate from one another -- progress in one area is only possible if the others are also tackled at the same time. Moreover, the MDGs, drawn from the Millennium Declaration adopted by all UN Member States in 2000, are not merely lofty statements of intent but a set of 18 concrete targets -- and precise monitoring mechanisms to track and review progress towards the achievement of these Goals.

Rita Luthra

Improving Maternal Health Through Education: Safe Motherhood Is a Necessity

Education improves health, while health improves learning potential. Education and health complement, enhance and support each other; together, they serve as the foundation for a better world. To be able to read, write and calculate has been acknowledged as a human right.

Joanne Sandler

Gender Equality Is Key to Achieving the MDGs: Women and Girls Are Central to Development

One of nine children growing up from a small town in an African country, Meaza was told: Oh, you're so smart and have so much potential, it's too bad you're not a boy. But her mother, who was illiterate, believed her children deserved better. When I think of my mother, I think about how women are prevented from reaching their potential, she says.

Noeleen Heyzer

Promoting Gender Equality in Muslim Contexts – Women's Voices Must Not Be Silenced

A question that is sometimes posed is whether women in Muslim contexts are entitled to equal rights. Are their culture and religion opposed to women having equal rights? To answer this, let us recognize the fact that nearly all the countries with Muslim majorities are signatories to international agreements advancing women's rights.

Thoraya Ahmed Obaid

Breaking the Cycle of Poverty in Achieving the MDGs: Investing in Reproductive Health and Rights

A bold and ambitious agenda was set forth in the Millennium Development Goals to raise the quality of life of all individuals and promote human development. The MDGs represent our collective aspirations for a better life and provide a minimum road map on how to get there.

Shantayanan Devarajan

Can South Asia End Poverty in a Generation? More Inclusive Growth and Faster Human Development Are Key

For the first time in its long history, the people of South Asia have the chance of sharing in a thriving environment on fair terms. The countries of the region are enjoying unprecedented economic growth, in most cases exceeding 5 per cent a year for over a decade. Today, South Asia is the world's second fastest growing region, with economic growth contributing to an impressive reduction in poverty.

Glenn Denning

Agriculture Leads to the MDGs: Rural Development in Africa

Agricultural productivity improvements have been a major driving force of social and economic change in human societies for millennia. The traditional production of crops and livestock fulfilled household requirements for food, fiber, fuel, medicine and other essential consumables.

Margaret Chan

Health and the MDGs: The Challenges Ahead

In 2000, the international community endorsed the Millennium Declaration, which sets out an historic commitment to eradicate extreme poverty and improve the health of the world's poorest people by 2015.

Asha-Rose Migiro

The Importance of the MDGs: The United Nations Leadership in Development

The Millennium Development Goals are the international community's most broadly shared, comprehensive and focused framework for reducing poverty.

Koïchiro Matsuura

Ending Poverty Through Education: The Challenge of Education for All

The world made a determined statement when it adopted the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2000. These goals represent a common vision for dramatically reducing poverty by 2015 and provide clear objectives for significant improvement in the quality of people's lives.

Quazi Monirul Islam

Making Pregnancy Safer in Least Developed Countries The Challenge of Delivering Available Services

The international community came together 20 years ago in Nairobi, Kenya, to launch the Safe Motherhood Initiative and highlight the most striking inequity in public health. This global initiative was developed to generate political will, identify effective interventions and mobilize resources that would rectify a horrifying injustice.

Akhter Ahmed

Surviving on Pennies: We Must Help the World's Most Deprived

Seven years ago, the international community made a commitment to halve the proportion of people living in extreme poverty and hunger between 1990 and 2015. Now at the halfway point between its declaration and the target deadline to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, it is obvious the world has made significant progress.

Juan Somavía

Promoting the MDGs: The Role of Employment and Decent Work

The 2000 UN Millennium Declaration, from which the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) emerged, focuses on development and poverty eradication, through peace and security, human rights, democracy and good governance. It identifies the fundamental values of freedom, equality, solidarity, tolerance, respect for nature and shared responsibility.

Sha Zukang

Devising a Shared Global Strategy for the MDGs: Building on Successes Towards 2015

Seven years on and halfway towards 2015 -- the deadline set for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals -- success is still possible. The MDGs, which set quantitative benchmarks to halve extreme poverty in all its forms, are achievable if countries implement national development strategies and receive adequate support from the international community.

Ann M. Veneman

Education Is Key to Reducing Child Mortality: The Link Between Maternal Health and Education

In 2006, for the first time in recent history, the total number of annual deaths among children under the age of five fell below 10 million, to 9.7 million. This represents a 60-per-cent drop in the rate of child mortality since 1960.

Peter Piot

Combatting AIDS: What More Needs to Be Done?

The first disease to be the subject of debates in the United Nations, both in the Security Council and the General Assembly special sessions, AIDS is one of the top ten leading causes of death worldwide.

Elizabeth Lwanga

Achieving the MDGs in Africa: A Race Against Time

African leaders, like other leaders from the developing world, with the support of the international community, embarked on a marathon race in 2000. Singularly and collectively, they entered a race against poverty, underdevelopment and deprivation by adopting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as the framework agenda for development.

Tigest Ketsela

Reproductive Health in the African Region. What Has Been Done to Improve the Situation?

Africa accounts for about one tenth of the world's population and 20 per cent of global births; yet, nearly half of the mothers who die during pregnancy and childbirth are from this region. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that poor reproductive health accounts for up to 18 per cent of the global burden of disease, and 32 per cent of the total burden of disease for women of reproductive age.

Michel Kazatchkine

Combatting HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa – Investing in Health Can Make the Difference

Globalization is a powerful driver for development and the generation of wealth. But even as the world becomes more interconnected, hundreds of millions of women, men and children are still confined to extreme poverty, hunger, illiteracy and disease.

Sam Nujoma

From the Millennium Summit to 2015: The Challenges Ahead

When Heads of State and Government met at the United Nations General Assembly in New York on 8 September 2000, we reflected on many previous resolutions and declarations made at the international, continental, as well as regional levels.

Elizabeth Mason

Newborns in Sub-Saharan Africa: How to Save These Fragile Lives

Every day in Africa, 2,400 babies are stillborn and another 3,100 newborns die within their first four weeks of life. Half of African women and their babies do not receive skilled care during childbirth and even fewer receive effective post-natal care.

Francisco Songane

Keep the Promise for Mothers and Children: An Agenda to Improve Maternal and Child Health

Despite the concerted efforts of many players, global progress in child survival has slowed compared to the advances of previous decades. Maternal mortality -- deaths of women in pregnancy and childbirth -- remains at almost the same level as 20 years ago.

Sushrut Desai

Gender Disparity in Primary Education: The Experience in India

The primary education system in India suffers from numerous shortcomings, not the least being a dire lack of the financial resources required to set up a nationwide network of schools. Traditionally, the sector has been characterized by poor infrastructure, underpaid teaching staff, disillusioned parents and an unmotivated student population.

Edward W. Scott, Jr.

The Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria : Past Progress and Hope for the Future

Each year, 2.5 million people become infected with HIV, 8 million contract tuberculosis (TB), and between 300 million and 500 million fall ill from malaria. Together, these diseases kill more than 5 million people per year, the equivalent of a full 747 airplane crashing every 44 minutes1.

Barbara Frost

Water and Sanitation: The Silent Emergency

In December 2006, the UN General Assembly declared 2008 as the International Year of Sanitation. The intention was to raise awareness of the importance of sanitation and encourage Governments, partners and communities to embrace the need for urgent action to reduce the number of people living without this basic service.

Tarja Halonen

Our Aspirations Must Become Achievements: From the Millennium Summit to 2015

In March 2000, then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan published his report, 'We the Peoples': The Role of the United Nations in the 21st Century, listing the major challenges in the world.

Rumishael Shoo

Reducing Child Mortality – The Challenges in Africa

In 1960, Africa contributed to approximately 14 per cent of the global child mortality burden. Today, sub-Saharan Africa alone accounts for almost 50 per cent of child mortality, although it constitutes only 11 per cent of the world population. If Millennium Development Goal 4 -- reduce child mortality by two thirds -- is to be achieved, Africa has the challenge of accelerating the narrowing of this gap.

Paul Hunt

Poverty, Malaria and the Right to Health : Exploring the Connections

Malaria is an extremely serious human rights issue. Six out of eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) cannot be achieved without tackling this disease. It is both a cause and a consequence of poverty. Its impact is especially ferocious on the poorest: those least able to afford preventive measures and medical treatment.

Ann Cotton

The Importance of Educating Girls and Women – The Fight Against Poverty in African Rural Communities

The Millennium Declaration, adopted by world leaders in 2000, set ambitious goals and targets to be achieved by 2015. At the end of 2007, just past the midpoint of this process, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) seem almost as elusive as they were in 20001.

Habib N. El-Habr

Clean Drinking Water and Sanitation: The Experience in the Arab Region

The Arab region, for the most part, is characterized by dry, harsh climatic conditions and associated scarce water resources. The average annual rainfall is less than 250 mm in 70 per cent of the region and less than 100 mm in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.

Margaret Simwanza Sitta

Towards Universal Primary Education: The Experience of Tanzania

The Government of the United Republic of Tanzania recognizes the central role of education in achieving the overall development goal of improving the quality of life for its citizens. It considers the provision of quality universal primary education for all the most reliable way of building a sustainable future for the country.

Peter Jackson

A Prehistory of the Millennium Development Goals: Four Decades of Struggle for Development in the United Nations

When the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Millennium Declaration in 2000, the goals and targets it set in the section on development ultimately became known as the Millennium Development Goals.

Jacques Diouf

Food Security and the Challenge of the MDGs: The Road Ahead

In their solemn Millennium Declaration of 2000, world leaders committed themselves to spare no effort to halve, by 2015, the proportion of the world's people who suffer from poverty and hunger. Just seven years remain for us to meet that momentous challenge.

Anna Tibaijuka

Supporting Towns and Cities to Achieve the MDGs – Improving the Lives of Slum Dwellers

It has been eight years since world leaders made a commitment to eradicate extreme poverty through the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). These Goals are aimed at achieving universal primary education, empowering women, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, fighting HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, ensuring environmental sustainability, and forging a new partnership for development.