Beyond the Millennium Development Goals

Millennium Development Goals Promotional Poster

Millennium Development Goals Promotional Poster

The United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were a series of eight goals to which all UN Member States were to commit themselves. The MDGs were important because they included specific targets and measures through which progress towards achieving the goals could be measured, because they included a specific timeframe by which targets should be met, and because they broadened our understanding of development beyond the simple measure of economic development as growing the size of the economy.

Specifically, the MDGs included eight broad goals:

  1. Eradicating extreme poverty and hunger,
  2. Achieving universal primary education,
  3. Promoting gender equality and empowering women,
  4. Reducing child mortality rates,
  5. Improving maternal health,
  6. Combating HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases,
  7. Ensuring environmental sustainability, and
  8. Developing a global partnership for development.

And as previously noted, each of the eight goals was accompanied by one or more targets, each of which has several specific measures. If we look only at MDG 1 (eradicating extreme poverty and hunger), for example, it included three targets: Target 1A: Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people living on less than $1.25 a day; Target 1B: Achieve Decent Employment for Women, Men, and Young People; and Target 1C: Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger. Each of these targets included between 2 and 4 specific measures.

Most of the MDGs were supposed to be met by 2015. However, only a few actually will be. On most, the international community will fall far short of its goals. Which leaves the United Nations in something of a conundrum. Should it set new goals? Should it recommit to the old goals that it could not achieve in the past 15 years? Is not meeting all the goals a failure, even if some goals were met? And so on.

So, blogging in the UN Dispatch this week, Mark Leon Goldberg suggested that a High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda could provide some answers. Some of the goals look pretty similar to the MDGs, for example, eradicating extreme poverty by 2030. It’s more ambitious than the MDGs’ goal of halving the number of people living on less than $1.25 per day. Other targets, such as those dealing with women’s health, AIDS, malaria, and TB are right out of the MDGs. Others, like dealing with climate and sustainability concerns, as well as concerns over reducing bribery and violent deals and ensuring universal access to birth registration are new. The specific proposals include:

Universal Goals, National Targets (Goals 1-3; all goals are available at the UN Dispatch)

Universal Goals, National Targets (Goals 1-3; all goals and their measures are available at the UN Dispatch)

What do you think? Does the international community’s inability to meet all the Millennium Development Goals mean that the MDGs were a failure? Are the proposed 12 goals more likely to be reached? Take the poll or leave a comment below and let us know what you think.

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