August 24, 2008

Millennium Development: At A Glance

The Millennium Development Goals are eight broad yet inspired benchmarks, which will guide us, as concerned international citizens, down the path toward a world of peace and prosperity. Now, in the 21st century, the future never looked so bright.

Well, not exactly.

In the year 2000 at the Millennium Summit in London, UN member states adopted the United Nations Millennium Declaration. The goals conveyed in that declaration provide a framework for international development, targeting eight specific benchmarks. While the degree of that specificity has come under much scrutiny since 2000, the MDGs also mark an unprecedented level of international cooperation to eradicate poverty. Expressly, the UN plans for the world to, by the year 2015:

1.) Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
2.) Achieve universal primary education
3.) Promote gender equality and empower women
4.) Reduce child mortality
5.) Improve maternal health
6.) Combat HIV/AIDs, malaria, and other diseases
7.) Ensure environmental sustainability
8.) Develop a global partnership for development

Critics of the MDGs argue that the vague language undermines the effectiveness of these goals. Think about what it would take to actually eradicate poverty within the next six years. Further, it is hard to quantify the goals create a clear-cut method for achieving them or for measuring progress. How exactly does one define “extreme” poverty?

However, the MDGs are more specific than the general statements above convey. Also, the adoption of the Millennium Declaration brings international development into a new, more central spotlight. The eight MDGs provide governments with a more tangible set of objectives. Some progress is certainly better than none.

Over the course of the next month, we’ll examine the eight MDGs in detail, and highlight initiatives designed to help achieve them. All over the world, international organizations and local volunteers are working from the ground up, creating development programs to make these goals a reality. Regardless of loopholes or gray areas in the document itself, their work and its value should not be marginalized.

At the end of September, once again UN member states will meet for the Millennium Summit in New York to evaluate progress toward achieving these ends. However, let’s not leave it all up to them. Over the course of the next month, let’s examine the details together, and decide just how workable all of this idealism is.

For more information about the Millennium Development Goals, please visit

This post was written by Allison Tritt, a former high school English teacher, volunteer for Oxfam Japan and volunteer blogger with the Literacy ‘n’ Poverty Project. She blogs to foster global awareness and remind others that there is always a way to get involved. Please leave your comments or email Allison at with your questions.


Chanelle N. Carver said...

I think the MDGs clearly show that the world wants to take a turn for the better, not just for individual countries but for all humanity. I'm not exactly sure how many countries have agreed upon these goals (around 150 or so?) but with international collaboration, they can certainly be accomplished.

Even though these eight goals are quite broad, the UN (and I would assume each country) has developed its own set of objectives and success metrics, which really zero-in on how each goal will be executed and completed.

Thanks for writing about such an important subject. Looking forward to reading more!

Marina said...

The MDGs are an extremely fascinating policy within the realms of the UN that can be applied on every single sector of its operation (from environmental protection to SCRE1325 about women in conflict). Learning about the contents and provisions of those goals, can help the individual not only be informed of the UN's efforts but actively participate in this dialogue. Because, i strongly believe that only when we fully comprehend an issue can we critically think about it. I will anticipate the next blog with great enthousiasm!

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