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In 2000, leaders from 189 nations signed on to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of eight ambitious targets designed to significantly reduce global poverty and disease by 2015. By setting time-bound, measurable targets for achieving results in areas like child and maternal health, education and access to water and sanitation, they injected new momentum into the fight against global poverty.
Achieving these important development goals depends on a partnership between developing countries and donor governments. Developing countries must lead the way by prioritizing poverty reduction, demonstrating effective governance and working with civil society to develop transparent and accountable plans to achieve the goals. Developed countries also have a key role to play. They signed on to support the efforts of developing countries by agreeing to goal eight, which calls for a global partnership to achieve the poverty reduction targets.
Since 2000, tangible results prove that dramatic progress is possible when developing countries and donor governments fulfill their ends of the bargain: debt cancellation has saved African countries $93 billion, which along with development assistance for education helped send an additional 50.8 million more African children to school for the first time between 1999 and 2010, increased global resources for health have helped almost eight million HIV-positive people receive life-saving antiretroviral medicine and delivered 70 million bed nets to protect families from malaria.
Despite these successes, much more needs to be done to ensure that MDGs are met by 2015, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, which is the region farthest off-track from reaching the goals. Through the MDGs, the world has pledged to make progress in the following areas:
1. Poverty and Hunger: Around the world, 1.4 billion people are living in extreme poverty (earning less than $1.25 a day) and nearly one in seven people goes to bed hungry every night.
2. Education: Expanded access to education generates widespread returns in areas like health and economic growth, yet 61.7 million children are currently out of school across the world.
3. Gender Equality: Around the world, women are bearing the brunt of extreme poverty and disease. Women work longer hours earning less money, have fewer educational and political opportunities and are more vulnerable to failures of weak health systems and diseases like HIV/AIDS than their male counterparts.
4. Child Health: Every year, 6.9 million children die before their fifth birthday, nearly all of them from preventable or treatable diseases like diarrhea, pneumonia, malaria and measles.
5. Maternal Health: Every year, more than half a million mothers die from complications during child birth and tens of millions more suffer from pregnancy related illnesses and injuries.
6. HIV/AIDS, Malaria & Other Diseases: Although HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria are preventable and treatable, they are three of the world's most devastating diseases. Every day, more than 12,500 people die from HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, nearly two-thirds of whom are living in sub-Saharan Africa.
7. Environmental Stability: Across the world, 780 million people do not have access to clean water and 2.5 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation, deficits that are projected to widen with emerging threats such as climate change and population growth.
8. Develop a Global Partnership for Development: Success in achieving the first seven goals requires a new compact of global cooperation through which developing countries and donor governments prioritize development and build a sustainable and accountable system to support it. Wealthy countries have made ambitious commitments in the past few years, and while some countries have taken great strides to follow through, many commitments have yet to be fulfilled.
Midway to 2015, world leaders face an historic opportunity to renew the fight against extreme poverty by reaffirming their commitment to development and leveraging new resources to achieve their agreed-upon goals. Along with leaders, campaigns and citizens across the world, ONE is working to mobilize broad-based support for achieving the MDGs and holding world leaders to account for the targets and commitments they set to reach them.
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