In September of 2000 the heads of the world’s nations, 190 strong, gathered at the UN in New York to adopt the Millennium Development Goals. The eight goals express the world’s commitment to end extreme poverty and hunger, promote health and education, and distribute more equitably the benefits of sustainable development, all by 2015.
With just five years remaining until the deadline, much remains to be done to achieve the goals, especially in some regions such as sub-Saharan Africa. The task has been made more difficult by the global financial crisis and by growing evidence that climate change is impacting agricultural productivity, a key sector in many developing economies.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has invited world leaders to attend a Summit in New York on 20-22 September 2010 to boost progress towards the MDGs. He has issued a call to member states to redouble efforts to achieve the MDGs, and has authored “Keeping the Promise” ( ), an action-oriented outcome report for the Summit.
Ban’s report identifies successes and gaps in achieving the MDGs, and lays out an agenda for 2010-2015. “Our world possesses the knowledge and resources to achieve the MDGs,” Mr. Ban says in the report. Falling short of the Goals “would be an unacceptable failure, moral and practical.”
The development plans of developing nations characteristically use the MDGs as the principle set of metrics for monitoring their progress. They see the goals holistically, while rich world nations and NGOs are often focused on specific programs that usually encompass one goal and a limited range of targets.
In his first address to the UN General Assembly last September, President Obama said: “We will support the Millennium Development Goals, and approach next year’s summit with a global plan to make them a reality. And we will set our sights on the eradication of extreme poverty in our time.”
This would seem to indicate that the US will play a lead role in this year’s MDGs Summit and that planning now underway in the Department of State and other agencies involved in development assistance will reflect that leadership.