Briefing Papers Number 2, May 2008

Number 2, May 2008 briefing paper The Millennium Development Goals: Facing Down Challenges by Eric Muñoz Progress Toward MDG Targets is Slowest in Fragile States Abstract MDG 1: Halve Extreme poverty MDG 1: Halve hunger MDG 2: Universal primary education MDG 3: Gender parity at school MDG 4: Reduce by two-thirds child mortality Middle-income countries MDG 5: Reduce by three-quarters maternal mortality Low-income countries Fragile states MDG 7: Halve proportion of people without access to safe water MDG 7: Halve proportion of people without access to sanitation -40 Bread for the World Institute provides policy analysis on hunger and strategies to end it. The Institute educates its advocacy network, opinion leaders, policy makers and the public about hunger in the United States and abroad. -20 0 20 40 60 80 100 Progress toward goal by 2006, % Source: Adapted from Global Monitoring Report, 2008. Key Points • Many developing countries are making progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. However, some face significant challenges because of starting conditions, weak institutions, conflict and environmental degradation. • Sustainable development is difficult in countries with weak governments that are inefficient and unaccountable to their citizens. • Conflict not only halts development—it can cause countries to swiftly regress. Peace, however fragile, provides an opportunity to make rapid progress. • The loss of natural resources can slow long-term efforts to reduce poverty. Many developing countries face heightened environmental risks, some associated with existing threats such as deforestation, as well as newly emerging threats associated with global climate change. • Developed countries need to provide flexible assistance that can help countries address these challenges and meet the MDGs. Eric Muñoz is a policy analyst for Bread for the World Institute. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) represent an unprecedented partnership among nations to better the lives of hungry and poor people across the globe. As the 2015 target date approaches, many developing countries have already made extraordinary progress, improving the lives of millions of people. But not all countries or regions of the world are on track to meet the MDGs. Developing nations face many barriers to achieving the MDGs, some unique and country-specific, others broadly shared. Common problems faced by fragile nations can be grouped into four areas: poor starting conditions; weak governance and institutions; conflict and instability; and environmental degradation. To meet the MDGs and create a sustainable path to development, countries must adopt policies and programs to overcome these problems. Developed countries have a role to play in overcoming these barriers. Aid donors, particularly the United States, must ensure that development assistance is flexible enough to help countries address these challenges and meet the MDGs.