In September 2000 the leaders from 190 countries signed the United Nations Millennium Declaration which the international community undertook to reach 8 development objectives with the intention of reducing poverty and improving life for the world’s population. One of these objectives, Millennium Development Goal #4 (MDG4), aimed to reduce by 2/3 the mortality in children under 5 years of age in the period from 1990 to 2015. Most of the effort to reach this goal was concentrated in developing countries, in which 98/99% of deaths in this age group are concentrated. Despite the remarkable success of halving the number of deaths in this period, the objective was not reached. In one of its reports on the Millennium Development Goals, the United Nations affirmed that 4 infectious diseases – pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria and AIDS – accounted for 43% of all deaths under five years of age worldwide in 2008. The need to concentrate attention on pneumonia and diarrhea, two of the first three child-killers, is especially urgent.
On 6 July 2015, UN Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, launching the 2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Report, stated: “2015 is a milestone year. We will complete the MDGs. We are forging a bold vision for sustainable development, including a set of Sustainable Development Goals. And we are aiming for a new, universal climate agreement.” (UN. 2015. The Millennium Development Goals Report 2015. United Nations)
The Report shows the highly significant progress made on all goals since their endorsement in 2000 demonstrating how the MDGs have saved millions of lives and improved conditions for countless worldwide. At the same time, it acknowledges the uneven progress made in many areas, which will need to be addressed in the new universal and transformative post-2015 development agenda. (UN 2015)
The success of the MDGs was based on following elements:
- Sharing a visionary agenda for global action with pre-defined measurable goals and targets.
- Collecting and analyzing data with scientific methods for objective evaluations and decision-making.
These elements of the global development agenda were key in achieving so many successes for improving human living conditions, probably never achieved before within a 15-year timespan.
We are at the dawn of a second period, which may change the face of our planet and the lives of all of us living on it. The success of the MDGs has to reassure us that the approach taken so far works and that we can continue to succeed, but it does not guarantee our next trip will be any easier: the challenges presented by 17 SDGs and 100 indicators to be adopted in September 2015 are even greater.
The Eight Millennium Development Goals:
- eradicating extreme poverty and hunger
- achieving universal primary education
- promoting gender equality and empowering women
- reducing child mortality rates
- improving maternal health
- combating HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
- ensuring environmental sustainability
- developing a global partnership for development