As we step into the new year, we must not forget the 8 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for 2015.
At the Millennium Summit in September 2000 in New York the largest gathering of world leaders in history adopted the UN Millennium Declaration, committing their nations to a new global partnership to reduce extreme poverty and setting out a series of time-bound targets, with a deadline of 2015, that have become known as the Millennium Development Goals.
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are the world’s time-bound and quantified targets for addressing extreme poverty in its many dimensions-income poverty, hunger, disease, lack of adequate shelter, and exclusion-while promoting gender equality, education, and environmental sustainability. They are also basic human rights-the rights of each person on the planet to health, education, shelter, and security.
1.2 billion still live in extreme poverty, even though poverty rates have been halved between 1990 and 2010 and the MDG target has been met. About one in five persons in developing regions lives on less than $1.25 per day. Vulnerable employment accounted for 56 per cent of all employment in developing regions, compared to 10 per cent in developed regions. About 173 million fewer people worldwide suffered from chronic hunger in 2011–2013 than in 1990–1992. One in four children under age five in the world has inadequate height for his or her age. Every day in 2013, 32,000 people had to abandon their homes to seek protection due to conflict.
Despite impressive strides forward at the start of the decade, progress in reducing the number of children out of school has slackened considerably. High dropout rates remain a major impediment to universal primary education. An estimated 50 per cent of out-of-school children of primary school age live in conflict-affected areas. Half of the 58 million out-ofschool children of primary school age live in conflict-affected areas. More than one in four children in developing regions entering primary school is likely to drop out. 781 million adults and 126 million youth worldwide lack basic literacy skills, and more than 60 per cent of them are women.
Women are assuming more power in the world’s parliaments, boosted by quota systems. Legislated or voluntary quotas were used in 39 chambers holding elections. Such measures impact positively on women’s access to parliament. However, quotas alone are not enough: political parties need to field more women candidates. In Southern Asia, only 74 girls were enrolled in primary school for every 100 boys in 1990. By 2012, the enrolment ratios were the same for girls as for boys. In sub-Saharan Africa, Oceania and Western Asia, girls still face barriers to entering both primary and secondary school. Women in Northern Africa hold less than one in five paid jobs in the non-agricultural sector. In 46 countries, women now hold more than 30 per cent of seats in national parliament in at least one chamber.
Despite substantial progress, the world is still falling short of the MDG child mortality target. Preventable diseases are the main causes of under-five deaths and appropriate actions need to be taken to address them. The child mortality rate has almost halved since 1990; six million fewer children died in 2012 than in 1990. During the period from 2005 to 2012, the annual rate of reduction in under-five mortality was more than three times faster than between 1990 and 1995. Globally, four out of every five deaths of children under age five continue to occur in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia. Immunization against measles helped prevent nearly 14 million deaths between 2000 and 2012.
Much more still needs to be done to reduce maternal mortality. Poverty and lack of education perpetuate high adolescent birth rates. Inadequate funding for family planning is a major failure in fulfilling commitments to improving women’s reproductive health. Almost 300,000 women died globally in 2013 from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. The proportion of deliveries in developing regions attended by skilled health personnel rose from 56 to 68 per cent between 1990 and 2012. In 2012, 40 million births in developing regions were not attended by skilled health personnel, and over 32 million of those births occurred in rural areas. 52 per cent of pregnant women had four or more antenatal care visits during pregnancy in 2012, an increase from 37 per cent in 1990.
There are still too many new cases of HIV infection. Access to antiretroviral therapy (ART) for HIV-infected people has been increasing dramatically. ART has saved 6.6 million lives since 1995. Expanding its coverage can save many more. In addition, knowledge about HIV among youth needs to be improved to stop the spread of the disease. Malaria interventions saved the lives of three million young children between 2000 and 2012. Between 1995 and 2012, tuberculosis treatment saved 22 million lives.
Millions of hectares of forest are lost every year, threatening this valuable asset. Global greenhouse gas emissions continue their upward trend. Global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) continued their upward trend and those in 2011 were almost 50 per cent above their 1990 level. Millions of hectares of forest are lost every year, many species are being driven closer to extinction and renewable water resources are becoming scarcer.
Official development assistance is now at its highest level, reversing the decline of the previous two years. Aid is shifting away from the poorest countries. 80 per cent of imports from developing countries entered developed countries duty-free and tariffs remained at an all-time low. The debt burden of developing countries remained stable at about 3 per cent of export revenue.
There are now less than 500 days to accelerate action on issues such as hunger, access to education, improved sanitation, maternal health and gender equality. Get involved and join the global conversation on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtags: #MDGMomentum | #EndPoverty