Photo credits to ec.europa.eu
In 2000 world leaders gathered at the United Nations to agree on a set of eight targets for international development. Since 2001, the United Nations agreed on a set of eight targets for international development, which they called the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). They have become the single most important organizing principle of the international community’s fight against extreme poverty and disease.
As of April 2013, there were 1000 days left until the MDGs are meant to reach that goal.
On Friday, April 5th, over 70 organizations marked the 1000-day countdown with a 1000-minute “digital media relay.” to address the questions of how far we have come since the MDGs were first established, what is left to be addressed, and what the global community can do to help. Through Twitter and Facebook chats, Google Hangouts blog posts and more, millions of people came together from every corner of the globe to celebrate global progress in eradicating extreme poverty and disease and press world leaders toclose the gap for those MDGs that have yet to be achieved.
Some MDGs have already been met: reducing the number of people living on less than $1.25/day by 50% was reached in 2005 – due especially to rapid economic growth in China and India.
The second MDG focuses on making education more accessible. Primary education in developing regions reached 90 percent in 2010, up from 82% in 1999, which means more kids than ever are attending primary school. Gender gaps in education are disappearing—there are now more girls enrolled in primary school than at any other time in human history.
In terms of health, HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and TB are at the heart of MDG 6 while the fighting against deadly childhood illnesses like diarrhea, pneumonia and measles is at the heart of MDG 5. The fight against these illnesses requires funding and an injection of new funds was needed.
The health related MDGs were the organizing principle around which these efforts coalesced. The results have been impressive. On Malaria, prevention strategies like indoor residual spraying and long lasting insecticide treated bed nets have decreased infections by 17% globally since 2000 and the amount of deaths has decreased by 25%. Access to HIV medicines in the developing world has also increased substantially to about half of all people in need today. Nevertheless, there is still much to be done a the goal calls for universal access to HIV/AIDS medicines.
The set of goals that need the most help is related to maternal health and maternal mortality. MDG 5 sets a target of reducing maternal mortality by three quarters and achieving universal access to reproductive health. Both goals, sadly, are far from their targets, and in many ways these targets are the single most important of all the MDGs. Investing in women and girls can have profoundly positive economic and social results.
Surely, the experience over the last 13 years has demonstrated thatcombining some of the great moral challenges of our time with political and financial backing can yield impressive results. The UN system is now exploring ways to build on the successes of the MDGs and on the momentum of the next 1000 days to design a new global development agenda once the MDGs expire.