Global perspective Human stories

Despite significant progress on development goals, many challenges remain – UN official

UNDP Administrator Helen Clark.
UNDP/Dylan Lowthian
UNDP Administrator Helen Clark.

Despite significant progress on development goals, many challenges remain – UN official

While countries have made remarkable progress in the achievement of some of the eight anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), there are still areas where too little has occurred since nations first committed to work on these issues in 2000, a United Nations official said today.

“There has undoubtedly been progress on many of the indicators targeted by the MDGs,” the Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), Helen Clark, told participants at the 2013 global conference “Making the MDGs work” in Bogotá, Colombia.

Miss Clark warned, however, that “there are also the goals and targets where too little progress has been made – for example on maternal mortality reduction, universal access to reproductive health, and improved sanitation. We must learn from these shortcomings too.”

The eight MDGs set specific targets on poverty alleviation, education, gender equality, child and maternal health, environmental stability, HIV/AIDS reduction, and a ‘Global Partnership for Development.’

Miss Clark said that the proportion of people living in extreme poverty – on less than $1.25 per day – is now half of what it was in 1990. Progress has also been registered in increasing access to improved water sources and meeting the goal of providing universal primary school access for all children.

In addition, low-income countries have made great strides since countries began to focus on the MDGs, and in particular, considerable progress has been made on goal six, which seeks to stop the spread and reverse diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.

In spite of these achievements, Miss Clark underlined that countries should focus on ways to address the remaining challenges, as well as the disparities within and across countries in the achievement of the MDGs.

“Previous assessments of MDG progress have shown that national ownership and local champions are indispensable for MDG success,” Miss Clark said, adding that the post-2015 development agenda will need to incorporate the lessons from the MDGs.

“Overall the next global development agenda needs to address the significant problem of inequality which has stood in the way of reaching the MDG targets,” she said.

Miss Clark noted that to accelerate progress in the last 1,000 days before the 2015 deadline, 45 countries are now using the MDG Acceleration Framework (MAF) developed by UNDP. The framework identifies pragmatic solutions to speed up progress on lagging MDGs, and to reduce disparities in progress to date.

The MAF works by bringing a wide range of stakeholders together to tackle the obstacles to progress. It draws on existing evidence, policies, and strategies to devise concrete and prioritized country action plans.