The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are the most broadly supported, comprehensive and specific development goals the world has ever agreed upon. These eight time-bound goals provide concrete, numerical benchmarks for tackling extreme poverty in its many dimensions. They include goals and targets on income poverty, hunger, maternal and child mortality, disease, inadequate shelter, gender inequality, environmental degradation and the Global Partnership for Development.
Adopted by world leaders in the year 2000 and set to be achieved by 2015, the MDGs are both global and local, tailored by each country to suit specific development needs. They provide a framework for the entire international community to work together towards a common end - making sure that human development reaches everyone, everywhere. If these goals are achieved, world poverty will be cut by half, tens of millions of lives will be saved, and billions more people will have the opportunity to benefit from the global economy.
At the midpoint in MDG timeline, great progress has already been made. Reducing absolute poverty by half is within reach for the world as a whole. With the exception of Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, primary school enrolment is at least 90 percent. Malaria prevention is expanding, with widespread increases in insecticide-treated bed-net use among children under five in sub-Saharan Africa. In 16 out of 20 countries, use has at least tripled since around 2000. One point six billion people have gained access to safe drinking water since 1990.
Alongside the successes are an array of goals and targets that are likely to be missed unless more action is taken urgently: about one quarter of all children in developing countries are considered to be underweight and are at risk of long-term effects of undernourishment; more than 500,000 prospective mothers in developing countries die annually in childbirth or of complications from pregnancy; in Sub-Saharan Africa, the proportion of people living on just over a dollar a day is unlikely to be cut in half. Additionally, in middle income countries like Mexico, Brazil, Romania, Macedonia, and Indonesia, inequality has also led to "pockets of poverty" - socially-excluded groups that will need specific attention if their countries are to reach the MDGs.
The global economic crisis also threatens to destabilize progress, as a better future for the world's most vulnerable people could fall victim to contraction of trade, remittances, capital flows and donor support. At a time when investing in development is more vital than ever to ensure social stability, security and prosperity, donor governments are called upon to renew rather than revoke their commitment to reaching the MDGs.
At the international level, UNDP works with the UN family to advance the Global Partnership for Development. At the national level, UNDP works in close collaboration with UN organizations to:
- Raise awareness of MDGs and advocate for countries and sub-national regions to adopt and adapt MDGs;
- Provide leadership and UN coordination to develop capacity in countries to assess what is needed to achieve the MDGs, to conceptualize policies and to design strategies and plans. For this purpose, UNDP organizes consultations and training, conducts research, develops planning and information management tools;
- Provide hands-on support to countries to scale up implementation of initiatives to achieve the MDGs, in areas such as procurement, human resources and financial management;
- Assist countries to report on their progress.