In 2000, leaders from 189 nations signed on to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of 8 poverty-busting goals designed to significantly reduce global poverty and disease by 2015. By setting time-bound and measurable targets in areas like child and maternal health, education and access to water and sanitation, they injected new momentum into the fight against global poverty
Since 2000, tangible results prove that dramatic progress is possible when developing countries and donor governments fulfil their ends of the bargain. But 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:
Around the world, 1.2 billion people are living in extreme poverty (earning less than $1.25 a day) and nearly one in eight people goes to bed hungry every night.Video
Expanded access to education generates widespread returns in areas like health and economic growth, yet 61 million children are currently out of school. 31 million of them live in sub-Saharan Africa and more than half of them are girls.
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.Video
In 2011, 6.9 million children died before their fifth birthday - nearly all of them from preventable or treatable diseases like diarrhoea, pneumonia, malaria and measles.Video
Last year, an estimated 287,000 mothers died from pregnancy-related causes, and millions more suffer from complications resulting in illness and injury.Video
Although HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria are preventable and treatable, they are three of the world's most devastating diseases, killing approximately 9,000 people die every day - nearly two-thirds of whom are living in sub-Saharan Africa.Video
While we all depend on natural services for food, water and climate regulation, the poor are particularly vulnerable to environmental degradation and lack of clean water and fertile land - the result of which leads to increased hunger, illness and poverty. 780 million people around the world do not have access to clean water and 2.5 billion people do not have access to adequate sanitation.
Success in achieving the MDGs 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. While some countries have made ambitious commitments in the past few years many commitments have yet to be fulfilled.
With the clock ticking, 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 the MDGs.