When we think of the Millennium Development Goals, we think of how lofty these goals are and how hard it is to get the global community and developing countries to commit to these issues. However, when we actually take a look at the progress we made, it turns out that there’s a lot of progress that’s been made over the past 20 years. Even if some targets haven’t been met, with all of these goals, we are not in the same place that we were when the goals were first set. Here’s the progress on the last four Millennium Development Goals:
5. Improving maternal health
- Reduce by three quarters, between 1990 and 2015, the maternal mortality ratio – Maternal mortality has nearly halved since 1990! In Eastern Asia, Northern Africa and Southern Asia, maternal mortality has declined by around two-thirds! We’re so close to this goal!
- Achieve, by 2015, universal access to reproductive health – What’s really needed here is contraception and family planning. The need for family planning is slowly being met for more women, but demand is increasing at a rapid pace, and Official Development Assistance for reproductive health care and family planning is still low.
6. Combating HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
- Have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS – This has not happened, although new HIV infections continue to decline in most regions. Progress is going to take place among young people, where comprehensive knowledge of HIV transmission remains low along with condom use.
- Achieve, by 2010, universal access to treatment for HIV/AIDS for all those who need it – The world missed this target, even though access to treatment for people living with HIV increased in all regions. In fact, 11 countries had achieved universal access to anti-retro viral therapy.
- Have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases – Although incidence hasn’t been halted, the global estimated incidence of malaria has decreased by 17% since 2000, and malaria-specific mortality rates by 25%.
7. Ensuring environmental sustainability
- Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programs; reverse loss of environmental resources – In the 25 years since the adoption of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, there has been a reduction of over 98% in the consumption of ozone-depleting substances. That’s about it though, as global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) have increased by more than 46% since 1990.
- Reduce biodiversity loss, achieving, by 2010, a significant reduction in the rate of loss – More areas of the earth’s surface are protected now than previously. Since 1990, protected areas have increased in number by 58%. However, not all protected areas cover key biodiversity sites.
- Halve, by 2015, the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation – We did it! Between 1990 and 2010, more than two billion people gained access to improved drinking water sources.
- By 2020, to have achieved a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum-dwellers – We did this too! The world met this target well in advance of the 2020 deadline!
8. Developing a global partnership for development
- Develop further an open, rule-based, predictable, non-discriminatory trading and financial system – Despite the pledges by G20 members to resist protectionist measures initiated as a result of the global financial crisis, only a small percentage of trade restrictions introduced since the end of 2008 have been eliminated. The protectionist measures taken so far have affected almost 3 per cent of global trade.
- Address the Special Needs of the Least Developed Countries – There has been some success of debt relief initiatives reducing the external debt of heavily indebted poor countries (HIPCs) but 20 developing countries remain at high risk of debt distress.
- Address the special needs of landlocked developing countries and small island developing States – Just made progress on this one. Aid to landlocked developing countries fell in 2010 for the first time in a decade, while aid to small island developing States increased substantially.
- Deal comprehensively with the debt problems of developing countries through national and international measures in order to make debt sustainable in the long term – This one is tricky because of the recent economic downturn. In 2011, the debt to GDP ratio decreased for many developing countries. Vulnerabilities remain. Expected slower growth in 2012 and 2013 may weaken debt ratios.
- In co-operation with pharmaceutical companies, provide access to affordable, essential drugs in developing countries – Resources available for providing essential medicines through some disease-specific global health funds increased in 2011, despite the global economic downturn. However, there has been little improvement in improving availability and affordability of essential medicines in developing countries.
- In co-operation with the private sector, make available the benefits of new technologies, especially information and communications – It comes as no surprise that we are doing well here, as the number of mobile cellular subscriptions worldwide by the end of 2011 reached 6 billion.