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What the Millennium Development Goals Have Accomplished

According to John W. McArthur, a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution who from 2002-2006 was Manager and Deputy Director of the UN Millennium Project, “the MDGs [Millennium Development Goals] have mobilized government and business leaders to donate tens of billions of dollars to life-saving tools, such as antiretroviral drugs and modern mosquito nets. The goals have promoted cooperation among public, private, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), providing a common language and bringing together disparate actors.” Mr McArthur writes all this in an article entitled, “Own the Goals,” in the March/April 2013 issue of Foreign Affairs magazine.

The UN itself describes the eight Millennium Development Goals as objectives that “range from halving extreme poverty rates to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by the target date of 2015 – [and that] form a blueprint agreed to by all the world’s countries and all the world’s leading development institutions. They have galvanized unprecedented efforts to meet the needs of the world’s poorest.”

According to  McArthur, it’s time to evaluate what’s been accomplished since the endeavor was established by world leaders in 2000. He points out the the achievements are impressive in view of the fact that “no single individual or organization is responsible for achieving the MDGs. Instead, countless public, private, and nonprofit actors — working together and independently, in developed and developing countries — have furthered the goals.” So, one initial exploit is that the goals “have brought the diffuse international development community closer together.”

In addition the author states that “the MDGs are the first global framework anchored in an explicit partnership between developed and developing countries.”

To boot, in 2010 already, the predominate goal of halving extreme poverty (those living on less than $1.25 a day) was met.  According to the author, “The goals have kick-started progress where it was lacking, especially in Africa, where unprecedented economic growth and poverty reduction are now taking place. … The global MDG campaign has also prompted support for small subsistence and cash-crop farms, which has boosted growth in many low-income countries, such as Malawi.”

Many successes have been achieved in the areas of primary education enrollment, gender parity in classrooms, and healthcare. Efforts led by philanthropists, companies, and organizations have led to significant malarial treatment and prevention, the increased availability of medicines in poor countries and endeavors to decrease mother-to-child HIV transmission. Child mortality has fallen drastically in Senegal, Cambodia, Rwanda and China, for example. “The goals show how much can be achieved when ambitious and specific targets are matched with rigorous thinking, serious resources, and a collaborative global spirit,” according to the article.

So, “the MDGs have proved that with concentration and effort, even the most persistent global problems can be tackled.” That’s very good news.

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