Where Do We Stand At The End Of The Millennium Summit?

united-nations-summit

Credit: © Reuters/Eric Thayer

NOW THAT THE MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS SUMMIT IS OVER, where do we stand? There was lots of talk, lots of world leaders, lots of renewed promises, and familiar debate about an aid-led approach to development.

What have the MDGs achieved? If you’re looking for success stories, there’s good news about Indonesia, Ghana, and Ethiopia. If you’re looking for facts and figures, there’s no shortage of numbers, such as 45 developing nations (out of 84) have already achieved or will achieve the poverty reduction target.

But what does it all mean? And would these “achievements” have happened without the MDGs?

Most people in rich nations haven’t even heard of the MDGs: AidWatch published the results of a survey that in the U.S., the world’s largest donor, 89 percent of Americans “had heard ‘not much’ or ‘nothing at all'” about the MDGs.

Not surprising. On Wednesday, the summit’s last day, at the traditional close of business (5pm EST), the top story on Google News was the announcement of the new judges on American Idol.

Let’s step away from statistics and pie charts for a moment and ask: are we any closer to ending poverty? We know the answer; the question then is, how much do we want to end poverty? How far are we willing to go to improve the lives of people who lack the most basic needs for survival, including food, shelter, and clean water?

“Yes, of course we want to help,” we say, but how many of us actually take actions to do something about it? Are we willing to share our wealth, so we can achieve a true and lasting “global partnership“?

How many of us will give up our coffee allowance, or buy one less pair of shoes, or look at our grocery bill and think, “Is all this food necessary? Do I need the pasta, hamburgers, frozen pizza, Pop-Tarts, and ice cream?”

How many of us volunteer time with a cause we are engaged with, and instead spend it playing Halo: Reach or watching YouTube?

We’re talking about a world now that has rising inequality within industrialized nations, and that goes largely ignored.

Individuals and NGOs continue to work towards poverty reduction, improved maternal health, and clean water—all the “millennium development goals.” The fact is they don’t need to be labeled as such, or even administered or assessed by a large body like the U.N. As always, you and I need to make the education, health, and safety of our neighbors a priority. Only then will there be no need for MDGs.

This is the eighth in a series of posts examining each of the eight Millennium Development Goals.

Safe water and sanitation for all

© WHO

THE NUMBERS ARE STAGGERING: almost half of the developing world’s population, or 2.5 billion people, lack proper sanitation facilities. And over 884 million people still use unsafe drinking water sources, according to UNICEF.

It’s these conditions that led to the creation of Millennium Development Goal number seven, or environmental sustainability, which also includes protection of ecosystems worldwide and the improvement of the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers.

It’s a wide-ranging goal, which is why it tends to fly under the radar compared to poverty, maternal health, and child mortality.

And it’s a mixed bag of targets-met and targets-missed: the world has achieved safe drinking water (except sub-Saharan Africa), but at current rates will miss the sanitation target by over 700 million people.

environmental-sustainability-millennium-development-goals

© U.N.


Goal #7: Ensure environmental sustainability

Providing access to basic sanitation, such as toilets or latrines, is a simple and affordable way to prevent disease and save lives. Now we need to acknowledge its importance and take action.

What will you do today to promote environmental sustainability around the world?

TAKE ACTION

Dig Toilets, Not Graves” is the new campaign from WaterAid UK to build awareness for the 4,000 children who die each day because they lack functioning toilets, causing deadly diarrhoeal diseases. You can also help at WaterAid US or WaterAid Australia.

LEARN MORE

A video from the Agence Française de Développement profiles the state of Dakar’s Hann Bay, the world’s second largest beach (after Rio), which suffers from pollution and industrial waste:

This is seventh in a series of posts examining each of the eight Millennium Development Goals.

How A Funding Crisis May Derail The Fight Against AIDS

THERE IS RECENT ENCOURAGING NEWS ABOUT THE FIGHT AGAINST AIDS: a decline of 25 percent in new infections in sub-Saharan Africa, for example. This is cause for hope in achieving the sixth Millennium Development Goal. But these successes hide the fact that funding for HIV/AIDS eradication is in jeopardy by as much as $10 billion dollars.

Last year, total global funding for HIV/AIDS was flat. Experts and advocates say the next step is to carefully allocate available funds so each dollar goes further.

HIV-millennium-development-goals

© U.N.


Goal #6: Have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS

The key words moving forward are “faster, better, cheaper“—and it’s up to us to make sure governments follow-through on their promises.

What will you do today to help combat the spread of HIV/AIDS?

TAKE ACTION

The Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria provides funding for the eradication of diseases like HIV/AIDs worldwide. Program directors said in June they needed $17 billion for countries to scale up their efforts.

LEARN MORE

AIDSspace is an online community for connecting people, sharing knowledge and providing services for the 33.4 million people living with HIV. You can search the directory for individuals, educators, and NGOs working in the AIDS cause, or read the latest documents and news in the Library.

This is the sixth in a series of posts examining each of the eight Millennium Development Goals.

Pregnant Women’s Health In Need of Greater Action Worldwide

maternal-health-MDGfive.com

Image: mdgfive.com

DO YOU KNOW SOMEONE WHO IS PREGNANT? Are you afraid she might not live through childbirth? In wealthy, industrialized nations we take for granted the safety of an expectant mother’s life. Unfortunately this is not true for the hundreds of thousands of women in developing countries who die every year because they lack pre-natal care and assistance during delivery.

According to the World Health Organization, maternal deaths have dropped, but 1000 women a year still die from complications during pregnancy and childbirth. More than one million children are left motherless every year.

maternal-health-millennium-development-goals

© U.N.


Goal #5: Improve Maternal Health

In 2000, world leaders targeted a 75 percent reduction in maternal deaths by 2015. A one-third drop in deaths is encouraging, but greater progress is needed in order to meet the goal.

What will you do today to ensure maternal health?

TAKE ACTION

MDGFive.com is a group of artists and activists raising awareness for maternal health by encouraging you to create advocacy videos that can be sent around your social networks. Learn more or follow them on Twitter: @MDGFive.

LEARN MORE

The Maternal Health Taskforce, part of EngenderHealth, and Ashoka, created the first-ever international fellowship focussing on maternal health. Each fellow will spend nine months abroad. Read their stories.

This is fifth in a series of posts examining each of the eight Millennium Development Goals.

How Engaging Men Will Help Achieve Gender Equality

millenium-development-goals-gender-equality

© UNDP

THE LINK BETWEEN GENDER EQUALITY AND DEVELOPMENT will be at the center of talks next week when the U.N. gathers to discuss progress on the Millennium Development Goals. Gender Equality impacts all the MDGs, including maternal and child health, HIV/AIDs prevention, and poverty reduction.

But if women are the key to the other MDGs, what’s keeping the world from establishing gender equality?

millennium-development-goals-gender-equality

© undp.org


Goal #3: Promote gender equality and empower women

Discrimination against women and girls takes many forms, “including gender-based violence, economic discrimination, reproductive health inequities, and harmful traditional practices,” according to the UNDP. Many of these issues are directly impacted by the role and influence men exert over women’s lives.

It is vitally important that men and boys become partners in the promotion of gender equality. The International Center for Research on Women published a report about engaging men and boys to achieve gender equality, stressing the need to support programs that address men’s social behaviors. The study also recommended collaborations between groups that work with women and girls and those organizations that help men and boys.

What will you do today to promote gender equality and empower women?

TAKE ACTION

Promundo is a Brazil-based, international NGO working to promote gender equality and stop violence against women, children, and youth. One of the group’s initiatives is the The Men and Gender Equality Policy Project.

LEARN MORE

This edition of “Millennium News” about gender equality is produced by teens who live in Nairobi:

This is the third in a series of posts examining each of the eight Millennium Development Goals.

Girls’ Education Is At the Heart of Achieving Universal Education

Millennium-Development-Goals-Education

© Global Campaign for Education

WITHOUT UNIVERSAL EDUCATION, THERE CAN BE LITTLE PROGRESS on the other Millennium Development Goals, such as Goal #3, gender equality. An educated adolescent girl increases her chances for higher income, a healthier life, and the benefits of marrying later and having fewer, and healthier, children.

The good news is that most countries have reached, or are close to, achieving gender parity in education, according to UNICEF. But there is still a gender gap, with girls lagging boys in four out of six regions worldwide. Girls constitute over half of all out-of-school children, according to the World Bank.

While these numbers show the world needs to focus on girls’ and women’s education, the numbers for all people, boys, girls, and adults, remain daunting. More political will and the financing behind it must happen in order to reach this goal.

millennium-development-goals-universal education

© U.N.


Goal #2: Ensure by 2015 that children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will complete primary schooling

So far, the world’s richest countries, who pledged to make education targets happen, have not followed through on their promises. According to the Global Campaign for Education, developing nations are waiting for $9 billion needed to get all children educated.

What will you do today to help others achieve universal education?

TAKE ACTION

The Global Fund for Women provides grants that promote women’s education advocacy and support schools and teachers.

The Global Campaign for Education aims to mobilize world leaders to make good on their pledge of universal education.

LEARN MORE

Grace is training to be a teacher in Nigeria, so she can return to her home and directly mentor and instruct girls in her community:

This is the second in a series of posts examining each of the eight Millennium Development Goals.

How Close Are We To Ending World Poverty?

millennium-development-goals-end-poverty

©UNDP

IN 2000, THE UNITED NATIONS SET OUT A SERIES OF EIGHT GOALS to be met by 2015: the Millennium Development Goals. Now, with only five years left to achive those goals, the U.N is meeting to review progress at a summit taking place in New York from September 20-22.

This is the first in a series of posts examining each of the eight Millennium Development Goals. First up: poverty.

end-poverty-and-hunger-MDG

©UN


Goal #1: to halve the proportion of people whose income is less than $1 a day

So how close are we to ending world poverty? The share of those in developing nations living in extreme poverty is expected to fall to 15 percent by 2015, down from 46 percent in 1990. These gains are due to recent growth in China and India. But that leaves nearly a billion undernourished people today. That number is simply unacceptable.

What will you do today to help end global poverty?

TAKE ACTION

Stand Up Against Poverty is a grassroots movement promoting three days of events to bring attention to poverty eradication. Registration for an event near you is now open.

The Global Poverty Project urges people to make small actions to bring about the end of poverty in one generation.

LEARN MORE

“Millennium News” is an MDG-themed newscast put together by teens in Nairobi: