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Policy advocacy and partnerships for children's rights

UN progress report urges new commitment to Millennium Development Goals

UNICEF Image: Millenium Development Goals 2007 report, sub-Saharan Africa
© UNICEF/HQ07-0072/ Pirozzi
A boy sleeps on a cardboard box on the street in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic.

NEW YORK, USA, 2 July 2007 – Despite progress made at the halfway point to the deadline for achieving the Millennium Development Goals, the global MDG targets will be achieved only if more concerted action is taken immediately and is sustained until 2015 and beyond.

Despite progress in lifting families and communities out of poverty around the world, a staggering 980 million people still live on less than $1 a day. And one region in particular, sub-Saharan Africa, is not currently on track to achieve any of the goals.

But large-scale advances towards the MDGs in some developing countries show that results for children and families are possible when the collective will is backed by collective action.

‘Much remains to be done’

These are among the key findings of a major United Nations update released today in Geneva, ‘Millennium Development Goals Report 2007’.

The report tracks progress on all of the MDG targets set forth by world leaders at the Millennium Development Summit in September 2000. Thes goals include eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education and gender equality, reducing child and maternal mortality, combating HIV/AIDS and other diseases, ensuring environmental sustainability and developing a global partnership for development.

“The results presented in this report suggest that there have been some gains and that success is still possible in most parts of the world,” writes UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in the report’s foreword. “But they also point to how much remains to be done,” he adds.

Honouring aid commitments

Accelerating progress on the MDGs requires a combination of strong government leadership, good policies, practical strategies for scaling up public investments in vital areas and adequate financial and technical support from the international community, the report asserts.

While citing worldwide results on increased primary school enrolment and reduced child mortality – as well as slow but significant progress on poverty reduction and gender equality – the report notes that most developed countries have not honoured their commitments to provide “adequate financing within the global partnership for development.”

In particular, notes the Secretary-General, “the lack of any significant increase in Official Development Assistance since 2004 makes it impossible, even for well-governed countries, to meet the MDGs.” In fact, only five donor countries have reached or exceeded the UN target of allocating 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income for aid to the developing world.

“There is a clear need for political leaders to take urgent and concerted action,” declares Mr. Ban.

Children and women at the centre

Still, the MDG progress report stresses that achieving the goals is not just the responsibility of governments. Rather, it is the collective responsibility of every segment of society.

The strength of the MDGs lies in their interconnectedness and their ability to address root causes of poverty and inequality. Empowering women, for example, is not only one of the goals but also plays a critical role in achieving the other seven goals, the report states.

And the status of women also has a direct impact on the well-being of children, who are at the heart of the MDGs. Healthy, educated and empowered women have healthy, educated and confident children.

As ‘Millennium Development Goals Report 2007’ makes clear, only through investment in the future of communities and societies – that is, investment in children – can the cycle of poverty in the developing world be broken, once and for all.




29 June 2007:
UNICEF correspondent Rachel Warden reports on how children are at the heart of the Millennium Development Goals.
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