The UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were established in the year 2000 with the aim of addressing the world’s most pressing issues and improving the lives of people around the globe. These goals were ambitious and comprehensive, covering a wide range of areas including poverty, hunger, education, gender equality, and environmental sustainability. The MDGs guided global and national development efforts for 15 years and contributed to significant progress in key areas.
In 2015, the MDGs were succeeded by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which built upon the achievements and lessons learned from the MDGs and expanded the scope to include new challenges such as climate change and inequality. However, it’s important to reflect on the progress made during the MDG era and understand the impact of these goals on the world.
In this article, we will explore which four goals were selected from the UN Millennium Development Goals and examine the progress made in those areas.
Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger
The first and most fundamental of the MDGs was to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. The target was to halve the proportion of people living on less than $1.25 a day and to achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people. The goal also aimed to halve the proportion of people who suffer from hunger.
Significant progress was made in this area, with the overall proportion of people living in extreme poverty declining from 36 percent in 1990 to 10 percent in 2015. However, progress was uneven across different regions, and many people continue to live in extreme poverty, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia.
Similarly, while the proportion of undernourished people in the developing regions decreased from 23.3 percent in 1990-1992 to 12.9 percent in 2014-2016, hunger remains a persistent issue, affecting millions of individuals and families around the world.
Achieve Universal Primary Education
The second goal of the MDGs was to achieve universal primary education, with the target of ensuring that all boys and girls complete a full course of primary schooling. Significant progress was made in expanding access to education, particularly for girls. The global primary school enrollment rate in developing regions reached 91 percent in 2015, up from 83 percent in 2000.
However, challenges remain in achieving universal primary education, including disparities in access and quality of education, as well as high dropout rates, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia. Additionally, the quality of education and learning outcomes remains a concern in many countries.
Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women
The third MDG aimed to promote gender equality and empower women, with targets related to eliminating gender disparities in primary and secondary education, ensuring equal participation of women in non-agricultural employment, and increasing the proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments.
Progress was made in narrowing the gender gap in primary and secondary education, and more women entered the workforce, particularly in the non-agricultural sector. However, gender disparities persist in many areas, including employment, political representation, and access to resources. Violence against women and girls remains a pervasive issue, and efforts to address these challenges need to be sustained and intensified.
Ensure Environmental Sustainability
The fourth selected MDG we will discuss is the goal to ensure environmental sustainability. This goal encompassed targets related to integrating the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programs, reversing the loss of environmental resources, reducing biodiversity loss, and ensuring access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.
Progress was made in expanding access to improved water sources and basic sanitation, with around 2.6 billion people gaining access to improved drinking water sources between 1990 and 2015. Efforts to protect biodiversity and combat climate change also saw some advancements, with international cooperation and initiatives contributing to these achievements.
However, the world continues to face significant environmental challenges, including climate change, deforestation, pollution, and loss of biodiversity. More work is needed to ensure the sustainability of the planet and address the root causes of environmental degradation.
In conclusion, the UN Millennium Development Goals had a significant impact on global efforts to address poverty, hunger, education, gender equality, and environmental sustainability. While progress was made in these areas, many challenges persist, and there is a need for continued commitment and action to achieve the ambitious targets set by the MDGs.
The lessons learned from the MDGs have informed the development of the Sustainable Development Goals, which provide a roadmap for addressing the world’s most pressing challenges in a comprehensive and integrated manner. The collective efforts of governments, international organizations, civil society, and the private sector are crucial in advancing the agenda of sustainable development and creating a world where no one is left behind.