2005: A critical year for action towards millennium development goals


Immediate release Monday January 17 2005

This release is also available in German.

Today the UN Millennium Project will deliver its reports to the UN Secretary-General. A series of articles to be published by THE LANCET over the next few weeks--starting with an overview published online--will highlight the global efforts required in 2005 to ensure that the millennium goals are realisable by 2015.

Jeffrey Sachs and John McArthur highlight in the first article how 2005 marks a pivotal moment in international efforts to fight extreme poverty. The Millennium Development Goals, borne of the UN Millennium Summit in 2000, address extreme poverty in its many dimensions--income poverty, hunger, disease, lack of adequate shelter, and exclusion--while promoting education, gender equality, and environmental sustainability, with quantitative targets set for the year 2015. The UN committed to reviewing progress towards the goals in 2005, recognising that by this time only a decade would be left to fulfil the MDGs.

The authors comment: 'We are now at the 5-year juncture with a stark realisation: many of the poorest regions of the world, most notably in sub-Saharan Africa, are far off-track to achieve the goals. Yet the MDGs are still achievable. The lives of hundreds of millions of people could be dramatically improved and millions could be saved every year, but only if the world takes bold steps in 2005. This essay is the first in a series summarising key conclusions of the UN Millennium Project, a 3-year independent advisory effort initiated by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to identify practical steps to achieve the MDGs in every country, especially in those currently far off-course in progress.'

They conclude: 'Urgent action is needed if we are to usher in a decade of high ambition to implement the goals. Developing countries need to make every effort to mobilise around the goals. Developed countries need to ask themselves if they should be more concerned with pointing the finger at the responsibilities of poor countries than with meeting their own commitments, as many of them are today. In 2005, the world needs desperately to follow through on its commitments, taking quick, practical steps at scale before the goals become impossible to achieve. The credibility and functioning of the international system is at stake. Without a breakthrough in 2005, well-governed, poor countries will not be effectively supported in pursuing an MDG-oriented strategy, and the already dwindling faith in international commitments to reduce poverty will probably vanish. If we do not act now, the world will live without development goals, and it will be a very long way to the next Millennium Summit in the year 3000.'

Source: Eurekalert & others

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