The Millennium Development Goals
CBC News Online | November 7, 2005

Recipe for reducing world poverty

Reducing world poverty and child mortality. Improving maternal health and providing universal primary education around the world. Doing that - and more - by 2015.


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Lofty goals that are easier said than done.

They are among the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals that were conceived as the 20th century ended and the 21st began.

The UN estimates that between 1990 and 2002, average overall incomes around the world increased by 21 per cent. The number of people living in extreme poverty fell by 130 million. And child mortality rates fell from 103 deaths per 1,000 live births to 88.

But progress has varied widely around the world. Sub-Saharan Africa continues to bear most of the burden. Famine continues to be a threat in some areas and extreme poverty has increased.

The UN hosted the largest gathering of world leaders ever between Sept. 14 and 16 at the 2005 World Summit. More than 100 leaders reaffirmed their commitment to achieving the eight Millennium Development Goals. The development goals - and the targets by which those goals are measured - include:

1. Eradicating extreme poverty and hunger.
  • Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than $1 a day.
  • Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger.
2. Achieving universal primary education.
  • Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling.
3. Promoting gender equality and empowering women.
  • Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and in all levels of education no later than 2015.
4. Reducing child mortality.
  • Reduce by two-thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-five mortality rate.
5. Improving maternal health.
  • Reduce by three-quarters, between 1990 and 2015, the maternal mortality ratio.
6. Fighting HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.
  • Have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS.
  • Have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases.
7. Ensuring environmental sustainability.
  • Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programs and reverse the loss of environmental resources.
  • Halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.
  • Have achieved by 2020 a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers.
8. Developing a global partnership for development.
  • Develop further an open, rule-based, predictable, nondiscriminatory trading and financial system (includes a commitment to good governance, development and poverty reduction, both nationally and internationally).
  • Address the special needs of the Least Developed Countries (includes tariff- and quota-free access for Least Developed Countries' exports, enhanced program of debt relief for heavily indebted poor countries [HIPCs] and cancellation of official bilateral debt, and more generous official development assistance for countries committed to poverty reduction).
  • Address the special needs of landlocked developing countries and small island developing states (through the Program of Action for the Sustainable. Development of Small Island Developing States and 22nd General Assembly provisions).
  • Deal comprehensively with the debt problems of developing countries through national and international measures in order to make debt sustainable in the long term.
To raise the money to meet the goals, the UN has been pressing developed countries to commit 0.7 per cent of Gross Domestic Product to foreign aid. It's a number first proposed by Lester Pearson in 1969. That was slightly more than twice what Canada spent on foreign aid at the time. By 1975, Canada's commitment had risen to 0.53 per cent.

It has now fallen to about 0.28 per cent.

Only five countries have achieved the goal of 0.7 per cent: Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.

At the World Summit, rock star Bono urged Prime Minister Paul Martin to join that club and outline how Canada would achieve Pearson's goal of 0.7 per cent of GDP devoted to foreign aid. Not an immediate jump. But a concerted effort to get there by 2015.

The forerunner of the United Nations was the League of Nations, an organization created during the First World War. The league was established under the Treaty of Versailles to promote international co-operation and peace and security. The league stopped operating after failing to prevent the Second World War.

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