The UN recently released its final MDG Report 2015, which documents the fifteen-year effort to achieve the aspirational goals set out in the millennium declaration. Mr. Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs, claimed the findings have “produced the most successful anti-poverty movement in history,” but was careful to acknowledge the gaps that still remain. Below are the top ten points to be aware of. (Click the photo to watch the video of the launch)
- Progress made in an unfinished agenda. This theme is repeated throughout the entire structure of the report. For example, while the literacy rate among youth aged 15-24 increased globally from 83% to 91%, there is still a lot of work to be done. It cautions that once a goal is reached in one region, progress does not simply stop: it must continue, as well as accelerate, in the post-2015 development agenda and the implementation of the SDGs.
- Those living in poverty worldwide decreased by 50%. This figure is an overwhelmingly positive step in the fight against global poverty, as the number dropped from 1.9 billion in 1990 to 836 million in 2015. Despite this improvement, the number is still too high and eradicating poverty and hunger is at the center of the post-2015 agenda. All the other goals will depend and build on this outcome.
- Gender equality still has a long way to go. This global struggle is a slow and ongoing process; while several regions have reached gender parities in primary education, disparities still persist at higher levels. The gender gap is based on several issues, such as gender-based discrimination, violence, and unequal participation in private and public decision-making. Female empowerment and education form one of the pillars of THP, so the promotion of gender equality remains an important focus in future advocacy efforts and the SDGs.
- Child mortality rates have decreased by more than 50%. The global under-five mortality rate dropped from 90 to 43 deaths per 1,000 live births, a significant achievement, but many of the world’s youngest and those in the most vulnerable situations still perish from preventable causes, such as pneumonia, diarrhoea, and malaria. There also needs to be an additional focus on the first day, week, and month of a child’s life, as these stages are the most critical for survival
- Despite improvements in maternal survival, hundreds of women die every day during pregnancy or from childbirth-related complications, most of which are preventable. Additionally, only 56% of births in rural areas are attended by skilled health personnel, compared with 87% in urban areas. There is a lack of access and knowledge of proven health-care interventions, such as antenatal care in pregnancy, skilled care during childbirth, and care and support in the weeks after childbirth. Reductions in newborn and maternal mortality rates go hand-in-hand and while they have their own separate issues, they can be solved together with improved antenatal and postnatal maternal care
- Investments in the fight against HIV/AIDS and malaria have brought unprecedented results. Over 6.2 million malaria deaths were averted between 2000 and 2015, while tuberculosis prevention, diagnosis and treatment interventions saved an estimated 37 million lives between 2000 and 2013. Yet recent outbreaks such as the spread of Ebola provide global lessons for stopping future epidemics and highlight the country and global preparedness needed to avoid them.
- The global target for drinking water has been met 5 years ahead of schedule, but the target for sanitation has been missed. Increased efforts for universal access to water and sanitation are vital as they have such an overarching effect on maternal health, child mortality rates, nutrition, and diarrhoea. 2.4 billion people are still using unimproved sanitation facilities, including 946 million people who are still practising open defecation. 147 countries met the drinking water target, 95 countries met the sanitation target, and 77 met both.
- Conflicts remain the biggest threat to human development. They are also the greatest obstacle to progress in achieving the MDGs, and likely will be for the SDGs as well. Fragile and conflict-affected countries typically have the highest poverty rates.
- Funding towards development has recently plateaued. It increased significantly in the first decade of the new millennium, but efforts will need to be strengthened and renewed to be firmly on track for the post-2015 agenda.
- Not all goals were met, but they were all successful. No matter what specific targets and indicators were originally set, the MDGs were ambitious and optimistic, just like the SDGs will be. But that doesn’t mean that they were unsuccessful or unrealistic; the MDGs served their purpose and reached goals that seemed nearly impossible 15 years ago. In the post-2015 development agenda, we should be equally ambitious and forward-thinking, but even more committed, in implementing the SDGs.
Click here to read the report in full.