Easier said than done
Ten years since the launch of the Millennium Development Goals, no significant improvement has yet been witnessed, Nesma Nowar reports
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) offer a roadmap to end poverty and its root causes. 189 world leaders adopted the MDGs as part of the Millennium Declaration, agreed upon at the United Nations Millennium Summit in September 2000. The adoption of the Millennium Declaration was a defining moment for global cooperation; it has captured previously agreed upon goals on international development and gave birth to a set of concrete and measurable development objectives. Leaders from both developed and developing countries are committed to achieve the eight goals by 2015. The goals include eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality and empowering women, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, combating HIV/AIDs, malaria, and other diseases, ensuring environmental sustainability, and developing a global partnership for development.
Five years from 2015, the target date for the MDGs, world leaders gathered at the United Nations in New York last week to review successes, lessons learnt, obstacles and gaps, and to reach a concrete strategic action plan to accelerate progress during the remaining five years.
According to the 2010 MDGs' report, which presents data on progress towards the MDGs in the past 10 years, progress has been made in some countries though it has been uneven and the global economic crises has slowed it down. The report demonstrated that many MDG targets are likely to be missed in most regions. It showed that there were major shortfalls in achieving the eight goals, where progress on poverty reduction has been uneven and is now threatened. Hunger is increasing and remains an important global challenge and the target for full and decent employment for all remains unfulfilled. There is also insufficient progress on gender equality, even less progress in reducing maternal mortality, and limited improvement on environmental sustainability.
Regarding Egypt, Khawla Matar, director of the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) office in Cairo said that Egypt achieved success concerning child mortality. She stated that the maternal mortality rates were reduced from 174 cases of death among every 100,000 in 1992, to 55 cases among every 100,000 in 2001. Matar was speaking during a press conference held recently in Cairo. Matar further added that Egypt has also seen some improvement regarding education and health. Nonetheless, there weren't any significant improvements regarding promoting gender equality and empowering women.
The Millennium summit, referred to as "The High-level Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly" held in New York last week concluded with the adoption of a global action plan to achieve the eight anti-poverty goals 2015. The summit came out with a global strategy for women's and children's health with countries pledging around $40 billion for this key target. The global strategy for women's and children's health is a roadmap that identifies the finance and policy changes needed, as well as critical interventions that can both improve health and save lives.
The global strategy is supposed to prevent the deaths of more than 15 million children under five, as well as 33 million unwanted pregnancies and the deaths of 740,000 women from complications relating to pregnancy and childbirth between 2011 and 2015. The strategy would also protect 88 million children under five from stunting and 120 million from pneumonia.
Governments, international organisations and business representatives made significant commitments on each of the eight goals. Most notably, the World Bank will increase its support to agriculture to between $6 billion and $8 billion a year over the next three years, up from $4.1 billion annually before 2008, in order to boost incomes, employment and food security in many of the poorer areas. Furthermore, it will increase its zero-interest loans and grant investment in basic education by an additional $750 million, with a focus on countries that are not on track to reach the education MDGs by 2015, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.
United Parcel Service (UPS international), a leading package delivery company, pledged $2 million to the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts to empower women through leadership and environmental sustainability programmes in 145 countries.
France announced funding of $1.4 billion to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria for 2011-2013, an increase of 20 per cent, while the United Kingdom announced increasing its funds for malaria from £150 million a year to £500 million by 2014.
The millennium summit came to reassure the world leaders' commitment to meet the MDGs by 2015, and it recommended the secretary-general to report annually on progress in the implementation of the MDGs until 2015 and to make recommendations in his annual reports for further steps to advance the United Nations development agenda beyond 2015.