Briefing Papers Number 2, May 2008 - Page 2

I n 2000, nations around the world renewed their commitment to creating a better, freer, safer world. As part of this commitment, developed and developing countries agreed to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MDGs identify key areas of human development, provide a framework for coordinated action, and set clear targets to measure progress. As we near the 2015 deadline, many developing countries have already made extraordinary progress, improving the lives of millions of people. But not all countries or all regions of the world are on track to meet the MDGs. As a region, sub-Saharan Africa is off track on every goal.1 The news is not all bad: for example, Malawi is making progress against child mortality and Ghana against hunger. But successes like these can become obscured by a tendency to see sub-Saharan Africa as a monolith rather than a region of 47 individual countries. Strong economic growth in India means that it—and the broader South Asia region—has already achieved the poverty goal. Far less progress has been made on other goals, in particular reducing child mortality and improving maternal health. In Latin America, several of the MDGs have already been met, notably ensuring universal primary school enrollment and empowering women (generally in the sectors of education, business and politics). The region has not made progress on other MDGs, though, such as halting and reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases. Around the world, only East Asia has made progress toward MDG #7, ensuring environmental sustainability. Six other regions are off track or making no progress toward this goal.2 Developing nations face many challenges to achieving the MDGs. Some are specific to individual countries or regions, others broadly shared. These challenges make development substantially more difficult and raise the likelihood that some countries will not be able to meet the MDGs. Another factor that exacerbates all of these conditions is the sudden increase in food and fuel prices. Common challenges can be grouped into the following categories: • Poor Starting Conditions: Countries whose human development indicators are at the lowest levels must make the greatest investments to achieve the MDGs. Not surprisingly, though, these are the countries with the fewest resources and the least capacity for rapid scale-up of programs in sectors such as health and education. • Weak Governance and Institutions: Governments in developing countries have primary responsibility for promoting equitable, sustainable economic growth and human development. Governments that are unaccountable, inefficient, and/or do n ot respect human rights make growth and human development much more difficult. • Conflict and Instability: Conflict not only stops development but reverses progress, exacerbating hunger, poverty, 2  Briefing Paper, February 2008 UN Millennium Development Goals for 2015 Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger Target 1: Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than one dollar a day Target 2: Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education Target 3: Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women Target 4: Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and in all levels of education no later than 2015 Goal 4: Reduce child mortality Target 5: Reduce by two-thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-five mortality rate Goal 5: Improve maternal health Target 6: Reduce by three-quarters, between 1990 and 2015, the maternal mortality ratio Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases Target 7: Have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS Target 8: Have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability Target 9: Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programs and reverse the loss of environmental resources Target 10: Halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation Target 11: By 2020, to have achieved a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers Goal 8: Develop a global partnership for development Target 12: Develop further an open, rule-based, predictable, nondiscriminatory trading and financial system Target 13: Address the special needs of the least developed countries Target 14: Address the special needs of landlocked developing countries and small island developing States (through the Program of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States and the outcome of the twenty-second special session of the General Assembly) Target 15: Deal comprehensively with the debt problems of developing countries through national and international measures in order to make debt sustainable in the long term Target 16: In cooperation with developing countries, develop and implement strategies for decent and productive work for youth Target 17: In cooperation with pharmaceutical companies, provide access to affordable essential drugs in developing countries Target 18: In cooperation with the private sector, make available the benefits of new technologies, especially information and communications