The eight Millennium Development Goals range from halving extreme poverty to stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education.
The Millennium Development Goals are a test of political will to build stronger partnerships for development and represent a commitment by countries to take real action and join forces to fight poverty, illiteracy, hunger, gender inequality, child and maternal mortality and disease, promote universal education, and ensure environmental sustainability. Millennium Goal 8, which received renewed support in Monterrey and Johannesburg, calls on the most developed countries to take steps to relieve debt, increase aid, and give less developed countries fair access to their markets and technology.
The Secretary-General releases an report on the progress made towards achieving the MDGs every year. In his 2003 report, then Secretary-General Kofi Annan argued that:
The rapid progress made in some areas demonstrates that the Goals are achievable for nearly every country in the world.
Growing political and financial support for key development priorities shows that resources can be mobilised rapidly to meet global challenges.
If current trends continue, some parts of the world risk falling short of achieving many of the MDGs.
There is an urgent need for world leaders to renew their commitment to facilitating free trade, increasing aid and granting debt relief to give developing countries the chance to reduce extreme poverty within their borders.
The Millennium Declaration was ratified at the Millennium Summit, held in September 2000 in New York. The summit resulted in a consensus on which global issues require the most urgent attention, articulated in a number of highly specific goals.
The goals adopted during the summit, which are now known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), provide a framework for the entire UN community to work together effectively towards a shared aim. The UN is uniquely positioned to advocate change, help countries access the knowledge and resources they need, and assist in coordinating broad efforts at a national level.
The MDGs reflect the commitment of the leaders of developed and developing countries to accept responsibility for the development of their people. Achieving these goals requires the participation of international and civil society organisations. The MDGs set the course for achieving increased international commitment to development, greater equity in trade, and debt relief.
While ambitious, the goals can be achieved in nearly every country in the world. To help achieve and evaluate tangible results, countries have agreed upon a framework of 18 specific targets and 48 indicators to measure progress towards the MDGs. As the world works towards achieving these goals, countries must simultaneously strengthen policies and make them more flexible, adapting them to today’s reality and ensuring that they benefit everyone equally.
1. ERADICATE EXTREME POVERTY AND HUNGER
Target for 2015: Halve the proportion of people whose income is less than one dollar a day and the proportion of people who suffer from hunger.
2. ACHIEVE UNIVERSAL PRIMARY EDUCATION
Target for 2015: Ensure that children everywhere, boys and girls alike, are able to complete a full course of primary schooling.
3. PROMOTE GENDER EQUALITY AND EMPOWER WOMEN
Target for 2005 and 2015: Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and in all levels of education by 2015.
4. REDUCE CHILD MORTALITY
Target for 2015: Reduce the under-five mortality rate by two thirds.
5. IMPROVE MATERNAL HEALTH
Target for 2015: Reduce the maternal mortality rate by three quarters.
6. COMBAT HIV/AIDS, MALARIA AND OTHER DISEASES
Target for 2015: Halt and begin to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS and the incidence of malaria and other major diseases.
7. ENSURE ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY
Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes and reverse the loss of environmental resources.
Target for 2015: Halve the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water.
Target for 2020: Achieve a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers.
8. DEVELOP A GLOBAL PARTNERSHIP FOR DEVELOPMENT.
‘Eradicating extreme poverty continues to be one of the main challenges of our time, and is a major concern of the international community. Ending this scourge will require the combined efforts of all, governments, civil organisations and the private sector, in the context of a stronger and more effective global partnership for development. The Millennium Development Goals set timebound targets, by which progress in reducing income poverty, hunger, disease, lack of adequate shelter and exclusion—while promoting gender equality, health, education and environmental sustainable—can be measured. They also embody basic human rights—the rights of each person on the planet to health, education, shelter and security. The Goals are ambitious but feasible and, together with the comprehensive United Nations development agenda, set the course for the world’s efforts to alleviate extreme poverty by 2015.’
United Nations Secretary-General BAN Ki-moon.