Fourteen years ago, as the new millennium dawned, the United Nations member states set a lofty goal: to work together in an effort to relieve poverty, hunger, disease, and lack of access to basic education and clean drinking water by 2015. Eight areas were targeted for improvement, collectively named the Millennium Development Goals, or MDGs.
Each year, the UN assesses progress towards those goals. In late June, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon unveiled the final scorecard before the 2015 deadline—-the 2014 MDG progress report. With little more than 500 days remaining, some goals have already been met. Global networks have coalesced around many of these issues – bringing with them both attention and resources.
The proportion of people living in extreme poverty has been halved at the global level; over 2 billion people gained access to improved sources of drinking water; remarkable gains have been made in the fight against HIV and AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis; the proportion of slum dwellers in the cities of the developing world is declining; the hunger reduction target is within reach; and trends that threaten environmental sustainability continue, including an increase in global CO2 emissions, while progress has been achieved in the near elimination of ozone-depleting substances.
Still, in other areas, progress has been uneven and we have major work ahead.
The United States believes that for the next set of goals to be truly transformative and to have significant and lasting impact, we need to promote gender equality and empowerment of women and girls; sustainable energy for all; the management of ecosystems, peaceful and safe societies; and open and accountable institutions.
We also need to find ways to integrate key sustainability priorities, such as environmental degradation, poor air quality, and climate impacts.
Dean Pittman, Acting Assistant Secretary for International Organization Affairs, recently remarked, “The Millennium Development Goals represent an important, shared objective of the global community – an objective that requires sustained focus to maintain progress toward achieving the goals. The MDGs are a symbol of our common humanity and a statement of the world’s commitment to eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, combating disease, achieving gender equality and environmental sustainability, and extending hope and opportunity to billions across the world. It can and should be a blue print for the future.”