• Reflections on the latest UN MDG report

    Posted by Gershon

    15 July, 2013

    The latest UN MDG report was released this month. It’s one of those reports that I really look forward to every year, it’s probably the best snapshot of the progress the world has (and hasn’t) been making in the fight against poverty. Committing a few choice statistics from the report to memory is also a great way to razzle dazzle your friends and colleagues with your ‘amazing’ knowledge of world events. 

    Next dinner party, try a line like this one, “I loved that speech that Malala gave to the UN about education this weekend. Did you know that in the last decade or so, the number of children out of school has almost halved, falling from 102 million in 2000 to 57 million by 2011?” It’s a guaranteed way to get some self-esteem boosting ‘oohs and aahs’.

    Back to the report. It outlines that many of the Millennium Development Goals are within reach by the 2015 deadline, but to achieve them will require building on the momentum that has been generated, despite the economic difficulties facing many nations. The report also notes that the goal pertaining to environmental sustainability is under the most ‘severe threat’, with carbon emissions 46% higher now than they were in 1990, extinction rates of birds, mammals and other species accelerating and marine stocks continuing to be dramatically overfished.

    Here are some more highlights that are well worth paying attention to:

    Positives:

    - Extreme poverty has more than halved between 1990 and 2010 - one of the most amazing global achievements in the last hundred years!  Today 22% of people are living below $1.25 per day, compared with 47% in 1990.

    - An astonishing 2 billion people gained access to clean drinking water between 1990 and 2010.

    - 200 million slum dwellers have gained access to better living conditions, doubling the MDG target of 100 million.

    - Maternal deaths have almost halved.

    - Though Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest level of child mortality, since 2000 the progress made in this region has become one of the major drivers in reducing child mortality globally.

    Negatives:

    - The world is off track to meet its child mortality target of a 66% reduction by 2015, despite an impressive 41% reduction.

    - Gender inequality remains persistent.

    - We need to accelerate the rate of improving access to sanitation and hygiene

    - Aid money is down about 6% and continues to reduce, with the poorest countries being most affected by aid cuts – losing 13% of their aid in the last year alone.
     

    The report is a reminder of how much we can do (and have done) when the international community comes together to work for the common good. However, if we are to finish well, and meet as many of the MDGs as possible, the international community will need to do more, not less.

    In the midst of difficult financial circumstances globally, it is as important now as it has ever been for Australia to increase its aid to the UN target of 0.7% GNI. Australia has been spared the worst consequences of the global financial crisis, we have low levels of debt and deficit by global standards and an aid program that is known for its effectiveness. Australia is well placed to show the world that in a time where they may be tempted to reduce aid, there is another way.

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    Gershon Nimbalker is the Advocacy Manager at Baptist World Aid and a member of Micah Challenge's Campaign Strategy Group.

    For more information about how you can help the Government accelarate progress on the MDGs visit www.finish2015.com.au