In 2000 the United Nations set up 8 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for the years 2000 to 2015 using 1990 as a baseline. (There are 21 targets and 60 indicators involved in these 8 MDGs.) They recently released a 72 page report at http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/pdf/MDG%20Report%202012.pdf on progress towards those goals as of June 2012.
I first became interested in this while volunteering for the New Progressive Alliance (http://newprogs.org/) At first I saw no connection with an international organization. Then I found we had members from two countries and what we were trying to do was very close to what the New Democratic Party in Canada had done as our team contacted Canadians. Our ten goals (http://newprogs.org/unified-progressive-platform-ratified ) to support peace, people, and the planet were very close to the 8 Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations.
Further many of our joint goals increasingly apply to the United States. Civil rights violation of Manning, Assange, and others, NDAA, Patriot Act, treatment of protesters, etc. are items of concern for the United Nations as well as the New Progressive Alliance. See U.S. Constitution and the 30 Articles of the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/ The U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights are also found in our constitution and the civil rights NPA goal. The Universal Declaration also has economic rights which are reflected in our NPA goals. Because of all this, the NPA has applied to be a United Nations NGO. (Non-Governmental Organization)
Millennium Development Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. The target of reducing extreme poverty by half has been reached five years ahead of the 2015 deadline, as has the target of halving the proportion of people who lack dependable access to improved sources of drinking water. Conditions for more than 200 million people living in slums have been ameliorated—double the 2020 target.
Millennium Development Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education. More than half of the out of school children for primary education are in Sub-Saharan Africa. The goal is to have a full course of primary schooling for every child.
Millennium Development Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women. Primary school enrolment of girls overall equaled that of boys, but there are many areas where there are significant exceptions. For every level above primary, the percentage of females decreased. The number of women in parliaments is rising, but at a very slow rate. The number of women leading executive branches of government is negligible.
Millennium Development Goal 4: Reduce child mortality. While child mortality has fallen by over one third, we are too far behind and it is impossible to reach the MDG by 2015. This situation is worse in Sub-Saharan Africa. This is especially bad for infants in the first month of life and can be helped by education of the mothers.
Millennium Development Goal 5: Improve maternal health. There is accelerating progress in reducing maternal mortality which has been halfed since 1990, but we are too far behind to reach the MDG in this area. While fewer teens are having babies, progress in this area has greatly slowed. The large increase in contraceptive use in the 1990s has not been matched in the 2000s. Family planning needs are rising while family planning resources are declining.
Millennium Development Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases. New HIV infections is down. Unfortunately, among young people knowledge of HIV and condom use is also down. While HIV treatment grew dramatically, it will fall short of the 2015 goal. Measles has had some fall back and is becoming worse of a problem. Significant and durable progress was made against malaria. New cases of TB have started to fall and more patients are successfully treated for TB. There is a 50% cut in the TB death rate from 1990.
Millennium Development Goal Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability. An increase in forest area in Asia partially offset an overall decline. Over-exploitation of fisheries reached a peak in 2008. Though more areas of the land and sea are being protected, biodiversity loss continues to rise. Though the goal of increased access to drinking water was met, much progress needs to be made in Sub-Saharan Africa, places where women are primarily responsible for getting water, and rural areas. Also access to some sort of sewage system is needed for large sections to avoid health hazards. Though progress was made, this sanitation target cannot be met by 2015. Controlling the shrinking of the ozone layer has been a success.
Environmental sustainability is perhaps the most important issue for future generations. The United Nations has shown that it can make steady progress on specific goals over a period of decades. The elephant in the room is climate change is not covered and the approach seems to be, “Someday we really have to talk about this.” At the last meeting in Durban South Africa, the United States (under Obama’s direction) and Saudi Arabia forced through an agreement saying it was not necessary to even talk about doing anything until 2020 at the earliest.
Millennium Development Goal 8: Develop a global partnership for development. The number of cellular subscriptions and internet users has risen greatly. Though many guess foreign aid is much more, the net aid of developed countries to poorer countries as a percentage of combined national income is .31%. In the United States much of the “aid” is military assistance. Core development aid fell for the first time in more than a decade. The UN suggests debt relief and humanitarian aid would help.
This sounds great, but all too often this report suggests the cure is in NAFTA-like agreements in which labor and environmental standards of second and third world countries are ignored for increased trade. This means living standards do not increase significantly in third world countries while declining significantly in developed countries such as the United States.
Picture from World Economic Forum licensed under Creative Commons