MDG final reports highlights

The final report measuring the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), set by the United Nations, highlights that they have saved millions of lives and improved conditions for many more. This is the last report of the MDGs, which will work as a base for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that the world community is discussing.

The report, which was released on July 6, highlights that human society across the globe has achieved several milestones on all eight aspirational goals set in 2000. Most of the MDG targets have a deadline of 2015, using 1990 as the baseline against which progress is checked.

Milestones achieved under different goals.

 GOAL 1- Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger

  • In 1990, nearly half of the population in the developing world lived on less than $1.25 a day; that proportion dropped to 14 per cent in 2015.
  • Globally, the number of people living in extreme poverty has declined by more than half, falling from 1.9 billion in 1990 to 836 million in 2015.
  • The proportion of undernourished people in the developing regions has fallen by almost half since 1990, from 23.3 per cent to 12.9 per cent.

GOAL 2- Achieve Universal Primary Education

  • The primary school net enrollment rate in the developing regions has reached 91 per cent in 2015, up from 83 per cent in 2000. In 2000, 100 million children were out-of school globally where 57 million were out-of school in 2015.
  • The literacy rate among youth aged 15 to 24 increased globally from 83 per cent to 91 per cent between 1990 and 2015.

GOAL 3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women

  • In South Asia, only 74 girls were enrolled in primary school for every 100 boys in 1990. Today, 103 girls are enrolled for every 100 boys.
  • Women now make up 41 per cent of paid workers outside the agricultural sector, an increase from 35 per cent in 1990.

GOAL 4- Reduce Child Mortality

  • The global under-five mortality rate has declined by more than half, dropping from 90 to 43 deaths per 1,000 live births between 1990 and 2015.
  • Since the early 1990s, the rate of reduction of under-five mortality has more than tripled globally.
  • In sub-Saharan Africa, the annual rate of reduction of under-five mortality was over five times faster during 2005-2013 than it was during 1990-1995.

GOAL 5- Improve Maternal Health

  • Since 1990, the maternal mortality ratio has declined by 45 per cent worldwide and most of the reduction has occurred since 2000.
  • In South Asia, the maternal mortality ratio declined by 64 per cent between 1990 and 2013 while in sub-Saharan Africa, it fell by 49 per cent.
  • More than 71 per cent of births were assisted by skilled health personnel globally in 2014, an increase from 59 per cent in 1990.

GOAL 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases

  • New HIV infection fell by approximately 40 per cent between 2000 and 2012 from an estimated 3.5 million cases to 2.1 million.
  • Over 6.2 million malaria deaths have been averted between 2000 and 2015.
  • Between 2000 and 2013, tuberculosis prevention, diagnosis and treatment intervention saved and estimated 37 million lives.

GOAL7: Ensure Environmental sustainability

  • Ozone-depleting substances have been virtually eliminated since 1990 and the ozone layer is expected to recover by the middle of this century.
  • In 2015, 91 per cent of the global population is using an improved drinking water source, compared to 76 per cent in 1990.
  • Worldwide, 2.1 billion people have gained access to improved sanitation. The proportion of people practicing open defecation has fallen almost by half since 1990.

GOAL 8: Develop a global partnership for development

  • Official development assistance from developed countries increased by 66 per cent in real terms between 2000 and 2014.
  • In 2014, 79 per cent of imports from developing to developed countries were admitted duty free, up from 65 per cent in 2000.

Smart development goals

By September, the world’s 193 governments will meet in New York and agree on a set of ambitious, global targets for 2030. Over the next 15 years these targets will direct the $2.5 trillion to be spent on development assistance, as well as countless trillions in national budgets.

Based on peer-reviewed analyses from 82 of the world’s top economists and 44 sector experts organised by the Copenhagen Consensus, three of us – Finn, Tom and Nancy – have prioritised more than a hundred of the proposed targets in terms of their value-for-money.

The natural political inclination is to promise all good things to everyone, and the UN is currently poised to pick 169 well-intentioned targets. The analyses of the experts suggest that some of the targets are barely worthwhile, producing only a little more than $1 in social benefits per dollar spent, while others produce much higher social returns.

We have selected the 19 targets that we expect to produce the greatest benefits. The expert analyses suggest that if the UN concentrates on these top 19 targets, it can get $20 to $40 in social benefits per dollar spent, while allocating it evenly across all 169 targets would reduce the figure to less than $10.

Smart development goals expert panel’s 19 targets




Reaching these global targets by 2030 will do more than $15 of good for every dollar spent.

The expert analyses suggest that if the UN concentrates on 19 top targets, it can get $20 to $40 in social benefits per dollar spent, while allocating it evenly across all 169 targets would reduce the figure to less than $10. Being smart about spending could be better than doubling or quadrupling the aid budget” – Bjorn  Lomborg.

Consider a couple of targets that help people directly through health benefits. Tuberculosis (TB) is a ‘hidden’ disease. Over two billion people carry the bacterium that causes it, about 10% of those people will develop TB at some point, and about 1.5 million people each year die from TB. But treatment is inexpensive and, in most cases, highly effective. Spending a dollar on diagnosis and treatment is a low-cost way to give many more years of productive life to many people. Ebola may get the headlines, but TB is a much bigger problem.

Reducing childhood malnutrition is another excellent target. A good diet allows children’s brains and muscles to develop better, producing life-long benefits. Well-nourished children stay in school longer, learn more and end up being much more productive members of society. The available evidence suggests that providing better nutrition for 68 million children each year would produce over $40 in long-term social benefits for every dollar spent.

There are excellent targets involving the planet as well. Governments around the world still subsidise the use of fossil fuels to the tune of over $500 billion each year. Cutting these subsidies would reduce pollution and free up resources for investments in health, education and infrastructure.

Protecting coral reefs turns out to be a surprisingly efficient target as well. There are benefits in terms of biodiversity, but healthy reefs also produce more tangible and immediate benefits. They increase fish stocks – benefitting both fishermen and consumers and attract visitors who explore their beauties – benefitting everyone working in the tourist industry, as well as the tourists themselves.

Perhaps the most important, over-arching problem facing the world is poverty, which still afflicts billions of people. Poverty is the ultimate source of many other problems. The immediate result is high rates of infant mortality, as well as poor cognitive skills and reduced productive capacity among surviving children. The ultimate result is a cycle of poverty.

Better nutrition and better schools will help alleviate poverty, but there is another target that promises to be even more effective: lowering barriers to international trade. The historical evidence on this point is compelling. In China, South Korea, India, Chile and many other countries, reducing trade restrictions has lifted incomes and reduced poverty, and triggered decades of rapid income growth.

Poverty reduction was the first item in UN’s list of Millennium Development Goals, and the numerical target was achieved. Why? Income growth in China was a big part of the story. And how did the Chinese achieve that remarkable feat? Most evidence suggests that international trade was a key ingredient. Trade produces immediate benefits by opening up markets, but it also facilitates the flow of ideas and technologies, producing even greater benefits over a longer horizon. A successful Doha free trade agreement could lift 160 million people out of extreme poverty.

Our list of targets will not solve all the world’s problems, but neither can any list under realistic budgets. Our list can help the UN make its choices like a savvy shopper with limited funds. Choosing good targets will vastly increase the benefits to people around the world, as well as generations to come. Governments should forgo the instant gratification of promising everything to everyone, and instead focus on choosing smart development goals.

(Kydland and Schelling are Nobel Laureates in Economics. Lomborg is President of the Copenhagen Consensus Centre. Stokey is Professor, University of Chicago.) via TOI and copenhagen consensus