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Why the Goals are important

Why the Goals are important and why we're falling short
The fulcrum of international development policy
The means to a productive life
A linchpin to global security
Where we stand with only a decade to go
Why progress is so mixed
Four reasons for shortfalls in achieving the Goals



We have the opportunity in the coming decade to cut world poverty by half. Billions more people could enjoy the fruits of the global economy. Tens of millions of lives can be saved. The practical solutions exist. The political framework is established. And for the first time, the cost is utterly affordable. Whatever one's motivation for attacking the crisis of extreme poverty—human rights, religious values, security, fiscal prudence, ideology—the solutions are the same. All that is needed is action.

This report recommends the way forward. It outlines a way to attain this bold ambition. It describes how to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are the world's time-bound and quantified targets for addressing extreme poverty in its many dimensions—income poverty, hunger, disease, lack of adequate shelter, and exclusion—while promoting gender equality, education, and environmental sustainability. They are also basic human rights—the rights of each person on the planet to health, education, shelter, and security as pledged in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Millennium Declaration.

How will the world look in 2015 if the Goals are achieved? More than 500 million people will be lifted out of extreme poverty. More than 300 million will no longer suffer from hunger. There will also be dramatic progress in child health. Rather than die before reaching their fifth birthdays, 30 million children will be saved. So will the lives of more than 2 million mothers.

There's more. Achieving the Goals will mean 350 million fewer people are without safe drinking water and 650 million fewer people live without the benefits of basic sanitation, allowing them to lead healthier and more dignified lives. Hundreds of millions more women and girls will go to school, access economic and political opportunity, and have greater security and safety. Behind these large numbers are the lives and hopes of people seeking new -opportunities to end the burden of grinding poverty and contribute to economic growth and renewal.

Many countries are on track to achieve at least some of the Goals by the appointed year, 2015. Yet broad regions are far off track ( table 1 ). Sub-Saharan Africa, most dramatically, has been in a downward spiral of AIDS, resurgent malaria, falling food output per person, deteriorating shelter conditions, and environmental degradation, so that most countries in Africa are far off track to achieve most or all of the Goals. Climate change could worsen the situation by increasing food insecurity, spreading vector-borne diseases, and increasing the likelihood of natural disasters, while a prolonged decline in rainfall in parts of Africa has already wreaked havoc. Meanwhile, for some Goals, such as reducing maternal mortality and reversing the loss of environmental resources, most of the world is off track. The early target for gender parity in primary and secondary education — with a deadline of 2005 — will be missed in many countries.

The Millennium Development Goals are too important to fail. It is time to put them on the fast-track they require and deserve. The year 2005 should inaugurate a decade of bold action. Based on work conducted by more than 250 of the world's leading development practitioners over the past two years in the context of the UN Millennium Project, this report presents a practical plan for achieving the Goals. Throughout, we stress that the specific technologies for achieving the Goals are known. What is needed is to apply them at scale. To that end, we present 10 key recommendations at the front of the report. More elaborate analysis and recommendations are set out in the 13 thematically oriented task force reports that underpin this plan.

This overview has four parts. The first describes why the Millennium Development Goals are important and the varied progress so far in achieving them. It then offers a diagnosis of why progress has been so mixed across regions and across Goals. The second presents the recommendations to be implemented at the country level, focusing on the processes, investments, policies, and scale-up strategies required to achieve the Goals. The third provides recommendations to guide the international system's support for country-level processes. The fourth estimates the costs and benefits of achieving the Goals, outlining the millions of lives that could be saved—and the billions of lives improved—through a very affordable but substantial increase in worldwide investments.

MDG Support

As of Jan 1, 2007, the advisory work formerly carried out by the Millennium Project secretariat team is being continued by an MDG Support team integrated under the United Nations Development Program.

Please visit MDG Support to get the latest information.
Related Information
Investing in Development: A Practical Plan to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals
"Investing in Development brings together the core recommendations of the UN Millennium Project. By outlining practical investment strategies and approaches to financing them, the report presents an operational framework that will allow even the poorest countries to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015."
For a full list of statements of support
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