Our Perspectives

Teamwork crucial to accelerate progress on MDGs


Tanzania: Sustainable forest management helps to improve communities livehoodsTanzania: Sustainable forest management helps to improve communities livehoods. Photo: UNDP in Tanzania

Concerted efforts are being made by governments, the United Nations, a host of development partners and civil society organizations to accelerate progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals, established 14 years ago to transform and save the lives of millions who are subject to poverty, hunger and disease.

Since 2000, tremendous progress has been made and several MDG targets met — both globally and in many countries. These are impressive achievements, but the road ahead still runs uphill.

Many of these successes are unevenly distributed across and within countries, and slow progress on several goals means they may not be met by 2015. The challenges are daunting: global emissions of carbon dioxide keep growing, millions of hectares of forest are lost every year, maternal mortality is still too high, basic sanitation remains out of reach for millions, and many of those infected with HIV go without treatment.

It may seem like the list goes on, but what is reassuring is that it is getting shorter. What seemed like a tall order in 2000 to unite governments, the international community, civil society and the private sector to change lives for the better, has accomplished much. With each passing day, the lives of many more people get better, and we move closer to the goal of ending all human deprivations.

But now is not the time to be complacent. In fact, we must dig deeper and work both harder and smarter, as much needs to be done, with the 2015 deadline fast approaching.  

That is why leaders from the U.N. and the World Bank have been meeting to see how they can collaborate to help countries accelerate progress by focusing resources, learning from what works, and creating partnerships across individual areas of expertise.

In Tanzania for instance, thanks to widespread support by a range of partners, the MDG acceleration framework has helped to hasten expansion of the government’s redesigned social safety net. It will impact nearly one million of the poorest households by mid-2015, instead of the estimated 220,000 by 2017.

Similar joint projects to eradicate hunger, expand access to sanitation, reduce maternal mortality and improve education outcomes are underway in many more countries such as Niger, Nepal, El Salvador, and Kyrgyzstan.

While we expect gains to be significant, it is clear that the unfinished work of the MDGs will continue to be a major part of the new global development agenda that includes Sustainable Development Goals. But as the case of Tanzania shows, by cooperating and directing our resources and knowledge to where they can have the biggest impact, we can do much to accelerate progress.

We may not achieve every goal in every country by the deadline, but our continued progress lays a solid foundation for the post-2015 development agenda, and it is a promise of what can be done when we all work together.

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