For the first time in history, governments and leaders worldwide have agreed to work together to fight global poverty. By signing up to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, countries both rich and poor have committed to a comprehensive strategy to halve extreme poverty by 2015.
The United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were signed by all 192 member countries of the United Nations in 2000.
The eight goals are to:
- Halve the number of people living on less than $1 a day
- Achieve universal primary education
- Promote gender equality and empower women
- Reduce by two thirds the under-five mortality rate
- Reduce by three quarters the number of women who die due to childbirth
- Combat HIV and AIDS, malaria and other diseases
- Ensure environmental sustainability and halve the number of people without access to safe drinking water
- Develop a global partnership for development
We are now more than halfway towards the target date and important progress has been made. But the world is not on track to meet all eight goals by 2015.
- Reducing absolute poverty by half is within reach for the world as a whole, but not for sub-Saharan Africa.
- In all but two regions, primary school enrolment is at least 90%, but enrolment of girls is not keeping pace with boys.
- Deaths from measles and other preventable diseases are falling, but about one quarter of all children in developing countries remain underweight.
- 1.6 billion people have gained access to safe drinking water since 1990, but almost half the developing world’s population, 2.5 billion people, still live without access to improved sanitation.
The challenges ahead
Efforts to meet the MDGs are being seriously affected by the global food crisis and the global financial slowdown. Climate change is also having a major negative impact on poor communities.
Even in the face of these new challenges, the world can still achieve the goals, but in the words of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, it will require an "unswerving, collective, long-term effort". Key to this will be for wealthy nations to live up to the commitments they have made, namely increasing overseas aid, creating a more open trading system and relieving the debts of poor countries.
A brighter future for all children
Steps like getting all children into school, keeping them healthy with basic medicines and clean water, and protecting their rights are the keys to ending extreme global poverty.
World Vision and other humanitarian agencies have embraced the MDGs as the blueprint for achieving a brighter future for all children.