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Millennium Development Goals

The Millennium Development Goals represent an unprecedented effort to better the lives of hungry and poor people across the globe.

In 2000, at a special session of the Untied Nations, the member nations committed to “making the right to development a reality for everyone and to freeing the entire human race from want.”

From this commitment emerged a set of eight interrelated goals that have come to be known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

By including measurable targets, the MDGs allow us to assess progress and determine what adjustments are needed in national and international strategies to achieve the goals.

Most importantly, by situating the MDGs within the context of the right to development and combining goals across different areas, the MDGs demonstrate an interconnected vision of development and human rights.

The MDGs are a grand vision, but they are also a roadmap for action. They build on decades of knowledge and success in development programming.

“We are doing this not just for moral purposes—although it is a tremendous moral mission to make the world a better place—but also because tackling the MDGs is fundamentally a part of a strategic vision of bringing the world together, and thereby enabling our own peace and prosperity...” — USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah

Developing countries have taken the lead in designing and implementing MDG strategies; more than 140 have produced their own plans in pursuit of the goals.

Watch  /  Five years out from the deadline, how are we doing?

Developing countries cannot achieve the goals alone.

They need the support of developed countries, and the latter have agreed to be partners.

A lack of progress in one part of the world reverberates everywhere, and to ignore the MDGs imperils everyone.

With five years remaining till the deadline to reach the ambitious U.N. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), how are we doing?

Our eight-part blog series highlights progress to date and the challenges ahead and offers resources to help us understand the way forward.


Goal One: Eradicate Hunger and Extreme Poverty

MDG 1 - End Extreme Hunger and PovertyIn spite of the many advances in the last half century, 1.4 billion people live in extreme poverty.

The MDGs represent unprecedented support for the world’s poor and provide a framework for coordinating development efforts.


Goal Two: Achieve Universal Primary Education

MDG 2 - Achieve Universal Primary EducationBy raising incomes, agricultural growth enables parents to send children to school rather than to work.

Education, particularly for girls, prepares children to take advantage of economic opportunities.


Goal Three: Promote gender equality and empower women

MDG 3 - Promote Gender Equality and Empower WomenEliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education and in all levels of education.

Gender gaps in access to education have narrowed, but disparities remain high.


Goal Four: Reduce Infant Mortality

MDG 4 - Reduce Infant MortalityImproving agricultural production is a reliable, sustainable intervention to improve nutrition and reduce child malnutrition and mortality.

More children die before the age of five in rural areas than in urban ones. About half of these deaths are due to malnutrition.


Goal Five: Improve Maternal Health

Improve Maternal HealthMost maternal deaths can be avoided. We must reduce by three-quarters, between 1990 and 2015, the maternal mortality ratio.

Giving birth is especially risky in Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, where most women deliver without skilled care.


Goal Six: Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and Other Diseases

MDG 6 - Combat HIV AIDS, Malaria, and Other DiseasesThe spread of HIV has stabilized in many regions, and more people are surviving longer.

We must have halted and begun to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS and begun to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases.


Goal Seven: Ensure Environmental Sustainability

MDG 7 - Ensure Environmental SustainabilityIntegrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programs and reverse the loss of environmental resources.

By 2015 we must halve the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.


Goal Eight: Develop a Global Partnership for Development

MDG 8 - develope a global partnership for developmentDevelop further an open, rule-based, predictable, non-discriminatory trading and financial system.

Address the special needs of the least developed countries.



Related Research:

Strengthening the U.S. Role in Accelerating Progress

The U.N. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) generated unprecedented levels of commitment to cut poverty and disease, improve access to education and health, and promote gender equity and environmental sustainability.

Progress on the MDGs is a mixed bag, particularly in Africa, where many of the targets will not be met.

With a focused strategy, based on measurable results, the United States can redouble its efforts to accelerate progress on the MDGs.

Read more »

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