We’re building a new UNICEF.org.
As we swap out old for new, pages will be in transition. Thanks for your patience – please keep coming back to see the improvements.

Press centre

Press release

Putting the last child first will further progress towards the Millennium Development Goals

NEW YORK, 23 September 2013 - As world leaders prepare to meet at the United Nations General Assembly to review the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals, putting the most excluded, most vulnerable and hardest-to-reach children first will accelerate progress towards achieving the global targets, says UNICEF.

The Millennium Development Goals- the most successful global anti-poverty push in history- have so far achieved substantial results for children around the world since their adoption in 2000 and have helped set global and national priorities.

Thanks to global and national efforts, under-five child mortality has almost been halved between 1990 and 2012. Fewer people live in poverty, fewer women die in childbirth and 2.1 billion people have gained access to safe drinking water between 1990 and 2011.

“While we should take a moment to celebrate these remarkable successes, we now need to urgently focus our attention on reaching the millions of children who are still left behind, or left out entirely,” said Anthony Lake, UNICEF Executive Director.  “It is unacceptable that poverty, gender, and geographic location so often determine whether a child will live or die, be able to go to school or grow up uneducated.”

Around 6.6 million children younger than five died in 2012, mostly of preventable causes.  That is 18,000 deaths per day. In fact, if current trends continue, MDG 4 will not be met until 2028 and as many as 35 million more children will die between 2015 and 2028.

In an effort to sustain the push towards ending preventable child deaths, the UNICEF supported global movement- ‘Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed’ – continues to mobilize political commitment and civil society partners and to turn promise into action on the ground to stop children from dying of causes that are readily preventable.

Globally, 99 million children under-five years of age are underweight, while 162 million children are stunted, or chronically undernourished. The Scaling-Up Nutrition (SUN) movement, in which UNICEF plays a lead role, galvanizes partnerships around an ambitious roadmap to support a growing number of countries to develop national plans to tackle malnutrition.

More children than ever are now attending primary school, with primary school enrolment rate increasing from 85 per cent in 2000 to 91 per cent in 2011. Parity between boys and girls in primary education is close to being achieved.

In 2011, 57 million children of primary school age were out of school, more than half of them in sub-Saharan Africa. In most regions, fewer girls are enrolled in secondary schools than boys.

The Global Partnership for Education, in which UNICEF is a key partner, is comprised of close to 60 developing countries, donor governments, international organizations, the private sector, teachers, and civil society groups. The partnership helps develop and implement sound education plans as well as mobilize and coordinate resources to enroll more children in school.
While the number of children newly infected with HIV continues to decline, still 210,000 children in the 21 high-burden countries in sub-Saharan Africa acquired the virus in 2012. UNICEF’s HIV and AIDS programme focuses on prevention, as well as protection, care and support for babies, children, young people and mothers affected by the virus, by working closely with governments, partners and communities.
Millions of children worldwide, from all socio-economic backgrounds and across all ages, continue to be affected by violence, exploitation and abuse. UNICEF is at the forefront of efforts to prevent and respond to child protection issues and works with a vast network of partners to deliver results.

With less than 850 days to go until the 2015 deadline, and a new global development framework in the making, scaling up sustainable and innovative solutions and ideas is essential to accelerate progress and reaching the poorest and most disadvantaged children and families.  National governments, the international community, civil society and the private sector all have a vital role to play. 

“Children are not only the inheritors of the planet. They will actively shape its future,” said Lake. “Their survival, health, safety, education and wellbeing are at the core of sustainable development and every nation’s prosperity.”


B-roll material available at http://weshare.unicef.org/mediaresources

Follow activities on social media using hashtags #MDGmomentum, #MDGsuccess, #promise4children, #lastchild1st

MDG related facts and figures: https://www.unicef.org/media/media_45485.html

Events during the UN General Assembly related to the MDGs in which UNICEF will be participating:

23 September:

  • Scaling-Up Nutrition (SUN) Lead Group meeting (to be chaired by UNICEF Executive Director)
  • High-level Event on Education Cannot Wait
  • Event on MDG Success: Secretary General’s Forum (This event will bring together all SG initiatives across the development agenda)

25 September:

  • Special Event on the Millennium Development Goals
  • Women’s and Children’s Health: The Unfinished Agenda of the MDGs in support of Every Woman Every Child
  • Global Education First Initiative Anniversary Event
  • UN General Assembly side event with Save the Children: Lives on the Line- Accelerating Progress and Accountability on MDGs 4 and 5

Other key global initiatives related to MDG progress:

- Every Woman Every Child was launched at the UN MDG Summit in 2010 and is an unprecedented global movement, spearheaded by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, to mobilize and intensify global action to save the lives of 16 million women and children around the world and improve the health and lives of millions more. Working with leaders from over 70 governments, multilateral organizations, the private sector and civil society, Every Woman Every Child has secured commitments from over 280 partners. The ‘Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed” movement supports Every Woman Every Child by mobilizing global and national action to end preventable child deaths.

- Sanitation and Water for All is a global partnership between developing countries, donors, multi-lateral agencies, civil society and other development partners working together to achieve universal and sustainable access to sanitation and drinking water, with an immediate focus on achieving the Millennium Development Goals in the most off-track countries. UNICEF has played a key role in defining the partnership. UNICEF also holds a seat on the Steering Committee, hosts the Secretariat and convenes the High Level Meeting – which brings finance and sector ministers from developing countries together with development cooperation ministers from donor countries.


UNICEF works in 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook

For further information, please contact:

Kate Donovan, UNICEF Media, 1 212 326 7452, e-mail:  kdonovan@unicef.org

Iman Morooka, UNICEF Strategic Communications, 1 212 326 7211 e-mail:  imorooka@unicef.org




New enhanced search