Blog post by: Cole Ettingoff
In 2000, as the world entered the new millennium, world leaders came together to determine a set of common goals the global community could rally around under the leadership of the United Nations. The product was seven Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), adopted by almost two hundred countries and more than twenty major international organizations. Bringing the world together by uniting both national governments and NGOs emphasized the need to address these goals as a global team. These goals (Figure 1) at first glance seem to be large, ambitious, and vague. While these eight big-ticket items received the most attention and are central to marketing, in reality each one of these goals has between one and five specific, measurable targets.
The results have been promising. Since 1990, extreme poverty has been cut in half, 2.3 billion people have gained access to clean drinking water, gender disparities in primary school enrollment are being eliminated in all developing regions with 90 percent of children in those regions attending primary school. Child mortality has been almost halved, and hunger, especially among children, has dropped substantially . We as a global community by no means have achieved all of the millennium development goals, but the MDGs have been one of the most successful international initiatives in history.
As we begin 2015, the target date for the completion of the Millennium Development Goals, the global community has already begun discussing what comes next. The MDGs were such a central part of international humanitarian work, and it is clear that there exists considerable interest in establishing a new set of goals. In 2012, the United Nations convened the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In relation to this conference, discussions regarding a new set of goals and the term “Sustainable Development Goals” emerged. Despite high expectations for the Conference, little progress was made towards a new set of goals. In the subsequent years, the UN undertook a massive effort under the leadership of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to make the development of the new Sustainable Development Goals as democratic as possible. Through a massive online poll and a series of consultations, conferences, and summits, global leaders have created a draft of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Last month the UN General Assembly adopted this draft of the Sustainable Development Goals:
Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere.
Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.
Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.
Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all.
Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
Goal 6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
Goal 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all.
Goal 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.
Goal 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.
Goal 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries.
Goal 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.
Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.
Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.
Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.
Goal 15: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.
Goal 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.
Goal 17: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.
These 17 goals further consist of 169 targets. These goals, in addition to being far more numerous than the MDGs, place a much higher premium on environmental sustainability while building on the previous MDGs. The SDGs emphasize both the progress of the global community and the challenges for our generation. Though these goals are a draft and will not be finalized until next year, it is likely that this set of goals will closely resemble the final list.
As the world prepares its new set of humanitarian goals, it is time for our generation to accept the challenge to pick up where the previous generation has left off. The world rallied around the Millennium Development Goals and made progress that is truly remarkable, but it is time for our generation to advance even further. It is time to embrace the goals that will define the way we interact with the world for years to come. It is time for us to understand and embrace the new goals. It is time for the Sustainable Development Goals.
Cole Ettingoff is a freshman in the Columbian College at the George Washington University. He is a member of the Steering Committee of the United Nations Association and the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development Youth Caucus.
Blog post by: Gabriella Marki
First commissioned in 2002, the United Nations Millennium Campaign took off and set goals and standards to address the world’s key issues. By focusing specifically on eight objectives, the Millennium Campaign was able to create a timeline and target date ensuring the completion of each of these plans. Though the progression towards completing these goals has been slow, the results prove that the slow pace has nonetheless led to immense and magnanimous good. All the progress has been a result of simple effort and dedication towards resolving collective problems.
When introducing the Millennium Campaign and it’s goals to the international community, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke of the importance of cooperation and dedication of all communities, in order to promote the continued effort of fully eradicating these key issues.
“…Ending this scourge [of poverty] will require the combined efforts of all, governments, civil society organizations and the private sector, in the context of a stronger and more effective global partnership for development. The Millennium Development Goals set time-bound targets, by which progress in reducing income poverty, hunger, disease, lack of adequate shelter and exclusion — while promoting gender equality, health, education and environmental sustainability — can be measured. They also embody basic human rights — the rights of each person on the planet to health, education, shelter, and security. The goals are ambitious but feasible and, together with the comprehensive UN development agenda, set the course for the world’s efforts to alleviate extreme poverty by 2015.”
Immediately, several initiatives and campaigns were created, all focusing on a specific goal and devising tactics in order to eradicate that particular issue by the set date of 2015.
Looking at the goals themselves, it’s true that they are all very ambitious and somewhat idealistic, and with it now being 2015, have we achieved every goal? Unfortunately, no. However, the developments and overall impact the MDGs have made on afflicted countries are significant and have been exceptionally beneficial in a variety of ways. This can be seen through the implementation of a detailed examination of countries’ social and economic statuses. By bringing more attention to a country’s conditions, this not only increases the desirability to enhance aid efforts, but also reaffirms the importance of how making a small change can positively influence the creation of promoting “good” and efficient welfare. Additionally, the work put forward by the MDGs have also been able to promote good habits and skills within countries, furthering the prevention of these problems from occurring again.
Much of the criticism has focused on the lack of data presented in MDG reports, and the lack of specific prospects for sustainable development. Additionally, many analysts have concluded that since all the goals have not been achieved by the 2015 deadline, the progress that has been made will only be temporary. The focus has shifted from attending to these issues by a specific date, to a post-deadline time period in which the goals might no longer be an intensive priority. However, I personally refute that idea. Though the deadline was not achieved for these goals, I believe that the effort to continue to eradicate these eight issues will now be even stronger than before. Various campaigns can now focus on the prior complications they encountered and come up with ways to overcome them and eradicate the issue with a more meticulous strategy. Additionally, it’s safe to say that the implementation of this work has already made such a difference in the world. Doing good and making a difference has a ripple effect – helping future generations to continue working towards these goals. Let the MDGs be just the initial stepping stone for a path leading to a better world.
Gabriella Marki is an Elliott School student, class of 2017, majoring in International Affairs and double concentrating in Security Policy and Conflict Resolution. Though from a small town in New Jersey, her interests are on a global scale and she hopes to pursue a career in law.
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These posts are the opinions of the authors and do not reflect the opinions of the Globe.