The United States hosted the UN Millennium Summit in New York City from 6 September to 8 September 2000. Over 100 heads of state attended and made this the largest gathering of world leaders in history at the time. All 189 United Nations committed to help the world achieve these Millennium Development Goals by the end of 2015:
- To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
- To achieve universal primary education
- To promote gender equality and empower women
- To reduce child mortality
- To improve maternal health
- To combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
- To ensure environmental sustainability
- To develop a global partnership for development
Specific benchmarks within individual goals can be found here and here.
Since 1970, each economically advanced UN member nation has committed to support official development assistance. In 2013, this commitment totaled $314.6 billion, of which only $134.8 billion was delivered.
In June 2005, G8 finance ministers agreed to provide enough funds to cancel $40-$55 billion of debt. This allowed impoverished countries to reallocate their resources and progress toward achieving the MDGs.
Despite these funding efforts, the world has experienced uneven advancement toward the Millennium Development Goals. Slum-dwellers in Western Asia have seen no significant progression, whereas those in Northern Africa have.
The only sub-category which has worldwide insufficient prevailing trends is: Goal 3.3- Women’s equal representation in national parliaments. Not one region of the developing world is likely to achieve parliamentary gender equality by the end of next year. Yet, Rwanda’s revised constitution guarantees at least 30 percent of parliamentary seats for women.
Today , Rwanda has the highest number of women parliamentarians in the world with women constituting nearly 50 percent in the Chamber of Deputies and about 35 percent in the Senate.
Millennium Development Goal 1: To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, has three sub-categories:
- Reduce extreme poverty by half
- Productive and decent employment
- Reduce hunger by half
The World Bank estimated that worldwide extreme poverty was reduced by half in 2008 due to the major successes of China and India. China’s poverty population declined from 453 million to 278 million. Combined with India’s development efforts, worldwide poverty has substantially decreased.
China’s economic policy reforms reduced their poverty population. The “open door policy” allowed significant foreign investment in their special economic zones. In the 1990s, China was the largest recipient of direct investment. When China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, poverty dropped by a third in just three years. However, this exacerbated the inequality between the urbanized coast and rural inland provinces.
Extreme poverty and hunger have not been equally eradicated in other regions of the developing world. The impoverished in Sub-Saharan Africa are some who have yet to experience such gains.
Poverty has decreased in Sub-Saharan Africa, but nothing like it has in China. 88% of The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s people survive on less than $1.25 per day. The US State Department reported that the DRC’s “rich endowment of natural resources, large population size, and generally open trading system provide significant potential opportunities for US investors. At the same time, the DRC remains a highly challenging environment in which to do business.” Political instability and corruption stifle large-scale economic development in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The United Nations are already planning their Post 2015 Development Agenda. David Mepham’s Putting Development to Rights makes several suggestions for the framework. He prompts “action to address root causes of poverty—such as inequality, discrimination, and exclusion” through policy reforms. These policies must “challenge patterns of abuse as well as harmful cultural practices like child marriage.” Mepham claims that Human Rights Watch “has documented many cases of corporate complicity with human rights violations.” It is crucial that future development initiatives respect human rights in all their work. Otherwise, so-called “development” may cause more harm than good.
The world has seen staggering progression over the past 14 years. Some countries have sporadically met the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, whereas others will take more time. The post-2015 framework must empower people to be agents and not subjects of development. These philosophical changes would benefit the world and improve millions of lives.