The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are a commitment from the international community to an expanded vision of development that vigorously promotes human development. These goals are the key to sustaining social and economic progress in all countries, and recognize the importance of creating a global partnership for development. The goals have been commonly accepted as a framework for measuring development progress.
In September 2000, 189 member states of the United Nations adopted the Millennium Declaration to focus the efforts of the world community on achieving significant, measurable improvements in people's lives by the year 2015.
The eight MDGs are:
- Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
- Achieve universal primary education
- Promote gender equality and empower women
- Reduce child mortality
- Improve maternal health
- Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
- Ensure environmental sustainability
- Develop a Global Partnership for Development
Progress towards achieving these goals has been considerable. World Development Indicators 2010 takes a comprehensive look at the issues facing developing countries as they attempt to meet the targets set for 2015 and found that despite the current crisis, the target to reduce by half the number of people living in extreme poverty is within reach. Rapid growth has occurred in East Asia and Pacific and poverty rates have been dropping South Asia - the two regions with the most people living on less than $1.25 a day.
However, progress at the country level is uneven. Only 49 of 87 countries are on track to achieve the poverty target. Some 47 percent of the people in low- and middle income countries live in countries that have already attained the target or are on track to do so, while 41 percent live in countries that are off track or seriously off track. And 12 percent live in the 60 countries for which there are insufficient data to assess progress.
Some other highlights include:
- Vulnerable employment is highest in East Asia and Pacific, South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa
- Number of people worldwide who receive less that 2,100 calories a day rose from 873 million in 2004-06 to 915 million in 2006-08
- A quarter of children in Sub-Saharan Africa and two-fifths in South Asia were underweight
- 50 countries have achieved universal primary education
- Seven of ten people in developing countries live in countries that have achieved universal primary school completion or are on track to do so
- In every region except Latin America and the Caribbean boys are more literate than girls – most starkly in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa
- Four of five people in developing countries live in countries that have achieved or are likely to achieve gender equality in primary and secondary education
- 64 countries – many in Europe and Central Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean – have achieved gender parity in enrollment and another 20 are on track to achieve by 2015
- Women’s share in paid employment in non-agricultural sector remains less than 20 percent in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa
- In developing countries child mortality declined 25% since 1990
- One child in seven dies before 5th birthday in Sub-Saharan Africa
- Half of maternal deaths occur in Sub-Saharan Africa and one third in South Asia
- More than half of births in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa are not attended by skilled staff
- Contraceptive prevalence has remained slightly over 20% in Sub-Saharan Africa
- 33.4 million people – two-thirds in Sub-Saharan Africa and mostly women – have HIV/AIDS
- 2.7 million new HIV infections in 2008 – 17% decline over 8 years
- Globally the number of children younger than 15 that became infected with HIV rose from 1.6 million in 2001 to 2.0 million in 2007 - Most children were in Sub-Saharan Africa
- 90% of malaria deaths occur in Sub-Saharan Africa
- 65 developing countries are on track to reduce by half the proportion of people lacking access to improved water source
- 1.5 billion people lack access to toilets, latrines and other forms of improved sanitation
- 18% of the world’s population lack any form of sanitation
- Aid flows have increased from $69 billion in 2000 to $122 billion in 2008
- Debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative has reduced future debt payments by $57 billion.
- While fixed line telephone systems have peaked in high-income economies and slowed in developing countries, mobile cellular subscriptions continue to grow rapidly