Look back, look forward
2015 has ended and with it the final date has passed for the Millennium Development Goals to be achieved. How successful have been the efforts to tackle them?
Recently I read a helpful article by Chris Hoy on the Overseas Development Institute’s website which gives some indication of areas of success and failure. This is far from the full story but at least gives some indication. The article is brief but for those of us who have been involved working with churches in some of the relevant areas of the world it is both encouraging and sobering to see what has happened. There is also a helpful short video from the United Nations Development Programme.
What were the MDGs?
In 2000, at a UN Summit, the goals were defined with a target date of 2015. In 2002, in Monterrey, Mexico, an international consensus was agreed for financing development. In 2005 specific ways of providing the funds were agreed by the G8 finance ministers.
The eight goals were:
- To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
- To achieve universal primary education
- To promote gender equality
- 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
Four of the encouraging results are that:
- Extreme poverty has more than halved, falling from almost half the developing world population in 1990 to around 14% today
- Previous disparities between boys’ and girls’ enrolment in primary education no longer exist, on average, for the developing world
- Between 2000 and 2013, tuberculosis prevention, diagnosis and treatment interventions saved an estimated 37 million lives.
- More than two and a half billion people gained access to clean drinking water since 1990
Sadly, two of the disappointing ones are that
- The global maternal mortality rate fell far short of the target and, with the present rate of progress, the MDG will not be reached even by 2030
- Giving people access to an improved sanitation facility also fell far short
As churches continue to seek to help impact and support their communities it is good to know what the larger goals are and how we can integrate our efforts with the wider community. As we now enter a new phase, with a target date of 2030, let’s play our part in helping to fulfil the Sustainable Development Goals.
What are the Sustainable Development Goals?
There are 17 goals with 169 targets. The headlines are:
- No poverty
End poverty in all its forms everywhere
- Zero hunger
End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
- Good health and well-being
Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all
- Quality education
Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
- Gender equality
Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
- Clean water and sanitation
Ensure access to water and sanitation for all
- Affordable and clean energy
Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
- Decent work and economic growth
Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all
- Industry, Innovation, Infrastructure
Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation
- Reduced inequalities
Reduce inequality within and among countries
- Sustainable cities and communities
Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
- Responsible consumption, production
Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
- Climate action
Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
- Life below water
Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources
- Life on land
Sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, halt biodiversity loss
- Peace, justice and strong institutions
Promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies
- Partnerships for goals
Revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development
It would be easy to be cynical as not all of the MDGs were achieved, but let’s not be put off by the ambition of the new goals. For the sake of our fellow human beings let us be conscious of these goals as we help to affect communities in which we have churches for the better.