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Brussels, 23 September 2013
The Millennium Development Goals and a global development agenda after 2015
What are the Millennium Development Goals?
In the year 2000, during the United Nations Millennium Summit, the international community agreed on eight specific Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to be achieved by 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
Are we on track to achieve the MDGs?
Impressive progress has been made on some of the goals in recent years. The target to halve the proportion of people living in extreme poverty was reached in 2010. The proportion of the population without access to safe drinking water has also been halved, ahead of schedule. Children are significantly less likely to die of disease or malnutrition today than 20 years ago. Global HIV infections are declining and less people die of malaria.
At the same time, a lot of work still needs to be done, with particular challenges in sub-Saharan Africa. Globally, 89% of children attend primary school, with girls now almost as likely to be enrolled as boys. Still, progress towards the goal of universal primary education is too slow. More than 850 million people do not have enough to eat in the world. Women continue to be the subject of discrimination and confront severe health risks, in particular with respect to maternal health and their sexual and reproductive health and rights. An estimated 2.5 billion people are without access to decent sanitation facilities and 780 million people still lack access to clean and safe drinking water.
How has the EU contributed to the process?
The European Union has been committed to helping achieve the MDGs since their very inception and has led the way in integrating them into its development policy and practice. With €55.2 billion of development aid in 2012, the European Union and its Member States continue to be the world’s most generous donor, providing more than half of global official aid. In addition to aid, the EU aims to ensure that all its policies are coherent with the objective of eradicating poverty.
In order to foster further progress on the MDGs, the EU created a €1 billion MDG Initiative in 2010, making available needs-based and performance-based funding. €700 million targets the most off-track MDGs (hunger, maternal health, child mortality and water and sanitation), while €300 million destined for countries with a good track record in implementing aid. To date, the MDG Initiative has funded 70 projects in 46 countries.
In 2012, the EU and its Member States adopted the Agenda for Change, to increase the impact of development cooperation and improve results against the MDGs. The implementation of the Agenda has started, focusing future cooperation on countries most in need (including fragile countries) and on priority sectors to promote good governance and inclusive and sustainable growth.
How is the post-2015 framework being defined? What are the links with the Sustainable Development Goals launched in Rio+20?
Discussions are on-going on shaping a global agenda for the period after 2015. In September 2012, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon formed a “High-level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development”. EU Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs was a member of the Panel, which was co-chaired by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom. The Panel delivered its report “A New Global Partnership: Eradicate Poverty and Transform Economies through Sustainable Development" on 30 May 2013.
In July, the UN Secretary General published his yearly report: “A life of dignity for all” which includes a vision for a post-2015 framework.
A UN Special Event is scheduled for 25th September 2013 to (i) review the MDGs, (ii) discuss how progress towards the MDGs can be accelerated and (iii) look ahead towards a framework for the time after 2015.
In February 2012, the European Commission published its own contribution to the debate on a post-2015 framework, with a paper entitled “A Decent Life for All – Ending poverty and giving the world a sustainable future,” which suggested five crucial building blocks for a single, overarching framework for poverty elimination and sustainable development:
In parallel to the discussions on the post-2015 agenda, the Rio+20 Summit (June 2012) agreed on a process to propose Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Consequently, an open working group (OWG) was set up to formulate proposals for SDGs. 15 EU Member States are represented in the OWG, most of them on the basis of rotating seats. The OWG is currently in a stage where it is collecting various proposals and priorities, before entering into a negotiations stage, likely to be in early 2014.
This overarching framework should bring together the post-2015 discussions and the SDG process.
How would the new Post-2015 Framework be financed?
The European Commission has this summer adopted a policy document ("Beyond 2015: towards a comprehensive and integrated approach to financing poverty eradication and sustainable development") which puts forward possible elements of a common EU approach to financing post-2015.
The Communication advocates consolidating and rationalising on-going international processes on financing (e.g. development, climate, bio-diversity), and puts forward six universally-applicable principles that could guide the international discussions:
For more information:
Communication on Financing for Development:
The European Commission has published a brochure “EU contribution to the Millennium Development Goals” with key results from European Commission programmes:
Website of EuropeAid Development and Cooperation DG:
Website of the European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs: