Collaboration key to achieving MDGs, building on decade of progress

Sep 26, 2012

New York — World leaders today called for a continued, united front in order to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), highlighting the need to ramp up global efforts to eradicate poverty and empower the world’s most vulnerable people to create a more equitable, sustainable world.

Speaking at a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) side event during the 67th Session of the UN General Assembly, UNDP Administrator Helen Clark said that the MDGs have succeeded in creating a common agenda which unites countries and people around the world. 

“Their time-bound, clear, and measurable targets have focused action on the most basic indicators of sustainable human development,” she said in her opening remarks at high-level panel entitled “Delivering on the MDGs:  Accelerating for the Future,” which included leaders from the Central African Republic, Indonesia, Kenya and Niger.

Major strides have been made since the MDGs were adopted by 189 UN Member States in 2000.  The latest MDG Progress Report indicates that global poverty continues to decline; access to safe drinking water has expanded, improving the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers; 40 million children are now attending school, with near parity in primary education between girls and boys; and in the last decade, global malaria deaths have declined by nearly a third.  Furthermore, the global target of reducing by half the number of people living on less than US$1.25 per day was met in 2010.

Yet despite meeting several important global targets ahead of the 2015 deadline, dwindling development aid risks slowing the momentum down.  According to the 2012 MDG Gap Task Force Report, released last week, meeting the remaining targets by 2015 is possible as long as Governments do not waiver from their commitments made over a decade ago and international support is adequate.

But more effort is needed to sustain the gains made and reach those still untouched by this progress, said Helen Clark, adding that overburdened and ill-equipped institutions, neglected agricultural sectors, poor or absent sanitation and energy services, chronic malnutrition, and discrimination against women, girls, and other groups remain huge barriers to MDG progress in many countries.

An important tool which is now being applied in forty countries where it helps drive collaborative efforts to overcome the challenges to progress towards lagging MDG targets is the MDG Acceleration Framework (MAF).

Developed by UNDP in 2010, the MAF is a tool employed by countries to develop a tailored and accelerated action plan based on priority MDGs, building on existing programmes and policies to ensure they achieve the intended impact they were designed to have.  It also helps governments focus on inequalities, a major cause of uneven progress, by emphasizing the needs of the most vulnerable groups.  

“From experience, we know that national ownership and leadership are critical for success.  We know that partnerships work, and that targeted investments can bring rapid improvements. We know that effective policies, drawn from what works, can bring about dramatic change. And we know that in our increasingly interdependent and volatile world, development will only succeed and endure if it is sustainable development,” said Helen Clark.

It will take time to distill and apply what has been learned from the MDG experience to reach consensus on a post-2015 agenda, which is being discussed by world leaders this week.   The unfinished business of the MDGs will be at the heart of what that agenda will look like and will continue to be relevant, particularly when looking at the national or subnational levels.  Poverty reduction, in all its dimensions, is still the central challenge we face as an international community.

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Contact information

Natasha Scripture, +1 212 906 6860,

UNDP Around the world