Extreme poverty was ended for more than one billion people through efforts under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), according to the final edition of the MDGs Report. The 2015 report highlights achievements in access to drinking water, universal primary education, child and maternal health, gender equality and eliminating hunger, among others. However, the report also underscores the need for more work as part of the post-2015 development agenda and the proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to ensure that the poorest and most vulnerable people are not left behind.
The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) produced the annual report using data compiled by the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on MDG Indicators, which includes over 28 UN and international agencies, and is led by DESA’s Statistics Division.
This final assessment of the MDGs illustrates global and regional progress on the eight Goals over the past 15 years, and says that the MDGs “prove that goal setting can lift millions of people out of poverty, empower women and girls, improve health and well-being and provide vast new opportunities for better lives.”
Even the poorest countries can make progress with targeted interventions, sound strategies, political will and adequate resources, according to the report. Still, it highlights uneven progress across countries, regions, urban and rural areas and poor and rich households, as well as persistent inequalities, including on gender inequality. The report identifies conflict as the greatest threat to human development and the biggest obstacle in achieving the MDGs.
Climate change and environmental degradation undermine progress achieved, the report finds, noting that global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions has increased by over 50% since 1990, an estimated 5.2 million hectares of forest were lost in 2010, and marine fish stocks are over-exploited.
The report was launched in Oslo, Norway, on 6 July 2015, in presence of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway, and Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda. Speaking at the launch Ban stated that “global efforts to achieve the Goals have saved millions of lives and improved conditions for millions more around the world.” He emphasized that “setting goals works – both as a guide and as a benchmark for greater accountability.” He add, however, that “we are keenly aware of where we have come up short.” He highlighted the emerging post-2015 development agenda as a “springboard” for future progress.
The report was also launched at the Ministerial Segment of the 2015 meeting of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). Jeffrey Sachs, Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General, and Director, Earth Institute, Columbia University, said that “where we tried, we succeeded; where we did not try, we did not succeed,” and underscored that the MDGs brought focus to the plight of the poor.
Among the lessons of the MDGs that can inform the post-2015 development agenda, the report emphasizes data as indispensable for the development agenda. It highlights advances in monitoring and statistical capacity gained through the MDGs and underscores the importance of further improvements in data collection, disaggregated data and statistical capacity to track progress on the proposed SDGs.
The UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) launched the Asia-Pacific MDG Report 2014/15 in tandem with The MDG Report 2015. The regional report examines MDG achievements in the Asia-Pacific and provides a regional perspective on the post-2015 development agenda.
In Oslo (Norway), Secretary-General Ban speaks at the launch of the final report on the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), flanked by Norway’s Prime Minister, Erna Solberg, and President Paul Kagame, of Rwanda. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas
The Final Analysis
Breaking down the progress made on each of the eight MDGs, the report found that:
On Goal 1 – eradicate extreme poverty and hunger – the world has seen the most successful anti-poverty movement in global history, which has contributed to a reduction in the absolute number of people living in extreme poverty by more than half in 2015 since 1990;
On Goal 2 – to achieve universal primary education – in sub-Saharan Africa, the implementation of the MDGs has helped increase the primary school net enrolment rate by 20 percentage points since 2000, compared to only 8 percentage points between 1990 and 2000, and the MDGs achieved ground-breaking success in the number of out-of-school children of primary school age, from 100 million in 2000, to 57 million in 2015;
On Goal 3 – which sought to promote gender equality and empower women – women are now having significantly stronger representation both in parliaments around the world and as a workforce outside of the agricultural sector and substantial achievements have been made in gender equality in education. For instance in southern Asia, there are now even more girls than boys enrolled in primary school, as compared with 74 girls for every 100 boys in 1990;
On Goal 4 – to reduce child mortality – the MDGs were most successful in the reduction of child mortality. Between 1990 and 2015, the annual rate of reduction of under-five mortality has more than tripled globally;
On Goal 5 – to improve maternal health – with the help of the MDGs, more mothers can rely on the assistance and treatment they need during pregnancy and after, and the maternal mortality ratio has been reduced by nearly half worldwide. Nowadays three-quarters of births are assisted by skilled health personnel globally;
On Goal 6 – to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases – lower infection rates of HIV of 40 per cent, an immense increase in antiretroviral therapy, tremendous declines in malaria deaths and incidence rates as well as superior success in tuberculosis treatment prove that the MDGs work to defeat diseases;
On Goal 7 – to ensure environmental sustainability – the MDGs have significantly increased access to improved drinking water for more than 90 per cent of the global population, and since 1990, ozone protection efforts have virtually eliminated ozone depleting substances;
And Goal 8 – to cultivate a global partnership for development – official development assistance (ODA) from developed countries increased by 66 per cent in real terms between 2000 and 2014.
[UN Press Release] [UNDP Press Release] [MDG Indicator and IAEG Website] [DESA Press Release] [DESA Newsletter] [Publication: The Millennium Development Goals Report 2015] [Statement of UN Secretary-General] [Progress Chart] [ESCAP Press Release] [Webcast of Launch] [IISD RS Coverage of Report Launch at HLPF] [