The Millennium Development Goals were established at the Millennium Summitof the United Nations in 2000. At the summit, eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were established, forming an internationally agreed upon blueprint for solving the world’s most pressing issues. The eight goals were
- Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger
- Achieve Universal Primary Education
- Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women
- Reduce Child Mortality
- Improve Maternal Health
- Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and other Diseases
- Ensure Environmental Sustainability
- Global Partnership for Development
These eight goals formulated a global framework for 191 member states and 22 international organizations who committed themselves towards achieving the MDGs by 2015. An important aspect of the goals were their specified targets and achieve by dates. The MDGs also introduced a previously unenforced monitoring system whose job it was to hold governments and NGOs accountable and to ensure that concrete actions accompanied the creation of the goals. Building off this idea, the United National Millennium Campaign, started in 2002, supports individuals from around the world to act and support the MDGs. This video by the Millennium Campaign on poverty shows how the lives of ordinary individuals around the world were impacted by the level of progress their countries made toward achieving the MDGs.
Touching upon the question, to what degree were the MDGs successful, one must first recognize the 21 million lives that were saved due to the initiatives these goals set forth. While there were definite successes, two major limitations of the MDGs were the lack of accountability and the non-inclusion of accessibility within the goals. Many of the development countries (whom the goals were targeted) did not have the resources and leadership to successfully implement programs and initiatives that worked toward the achievement of the goals. Additionally, the MDGs were heavily linked to the idea of economic growth without regard to the relationships between economics, societal well-being, and politics.
This interesting graphic from a 2009 BBC report shows the process made throughout the world.
In addition to the two limitations highlighted above, the MDGs lacked short-term attainable goals. Instead, the framework took a 300-foot view and assumed all countries would take the same course for development. However, this path was undefined, making it extremely difficult for countries to effectively implement positive change.
Despite these downfall of the MDGs, they did provide a global framework for countries across the globe to work together. The framework acted like a guideline for these nations up until the creation of the more defined Sustainable Development Goals. The MDGs created an opportunity for the international community to come together and forge a vision for the future. This vision has played out in the SDGs.