The High-level Plenary Meeting of the 65th Session of the UN General Assembly on the Millennium Development Goals (MDG)—or “MDG Summit”—will take place at the United Nations headquarters in New York from 20-22 September 2010, under the theme “We can end poverty by 2015.” With only five years left until the 2015 deadline to achieve the MDGs, and amid mixed progress on halving extreme poverty, and drastically reducing hunger, disease, maternal and child deaths and other ills, the MDG Summit and related events will seek to accelerate progress on these issues. Participants will undertake a comprehensive review of successes, best practices and lessons learned, obstacles and gaps, challenges and opportunities, which will help lead to concrete strategies for action.
Preceding the UN General Assembly’s 65th session (which begins on Thursday, 23 September), the MDG Summit and related events will be attended by heads of state and other dignitaries, as well as members of civil society, academia and the private sector. The three-day event will see daily morning and afternoon plenary sessions held concurrently with round-table sessions on the following six themes: addressing the challenge of poverty, hunger and gender equality; meeting the goals of health and education; promoting sustainable development; addressing emerging issues and evolving approaches; addressing the special needs of the most vulnerable; and widening and strengthening partnerships. In addition, several dozen side events and other related partnership events will take place. The main outcome of the Summit will be a document calling for increased efforts at all levels to attain the MDGs, a draft of which was made public before the Summit, highlighting methods and avenues to accelerate progress.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS
At the Millennium Summit in September 2000, UN member states unanimously adopted the Millennium Declaration (A/RES/55/2).
At its 56th session in 2001, the Secretary-General presented his report entitled “Road map towards the implementation of the UN Millennium Declaration” (56/326). An annex of the report contains eight development goals with 18 targets and 48 indicators, commonly known as the MDGs. The first seven goals are focused on: eradicating poverty in all its forms; halving extreme poverty and hunger; achieving universal primary education and gender equity; reducing the mortality of children under five by two-thirds and maternal mortality by three-quarters; reversing the spread of HIV and AIDS; halving the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water; and ensuring environmental sustainability. The final goal outlines measures for building a global partnership for development. These goals, targets and indicators were developed following consultations held among members of the UN Secretariat and representatives of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the World Bank in order to harmonize reporting on the development goals in the Millennium Declaration and other international development goals.
In resolution 56/95 on the “Follow-up to the Millennium Summit,” the General Assembly took note of the Secretary-General’s report and recommended that a “road map” be considered as a useful guide in implementing the Millennium Declaration by the UN system. It invited member States, as well as the Bretton Woods Institutions, the World Trade Organization and other interested parties to consider the “road map” when formulating plans for implementing goals related to the Declaration.
WORLD SUMMIT 2005: The first comprehensive review of the MDGs was conducted in 2005 at the World Summit, a high-level plenary session of the General Assembly, which reviewed progress and considered further efforts required to achieve the goals. In Outcome Document A/RES/60/1, world leaders underscored the need for the international community to strengthen development cooperation, including by mobilizing internal and external financial resources and facilitating approval of such programmes by the multilateral financial institutions, as well as implementing comprehensive national development strategies to achieve the internationally agreed development goals and objectives. In addition, over US$50 billion per year were promised by 2010 to fight poverty, and agreement was reached to provide immediate support for quick impact initiatives to support anti-malaria efforts, education, and healthcare.
Since the 2005 review, there have been numerous meetings and reports focused on assessing progress or catalyzing further action. Several of the key UN activities are detailed below.
HIGH-LEVEL MEETINGS ON AFRICA’S DEVELOPMENT NEEDS AND THE MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS: Two High-Level meetings and over 50 partnership events took place on 22-25 September 2008, at UN Headquarters in New York, during the general debate of the 63rd session of the UN General Assembly. A High-Level Meeting of the General Assembly on Africa’s Development Needs took place on 22 September 2008, under the theme “Africa’s development needs: state of implementation of various commitments, challenges and the way forward,” and resulted in a UN General Assembly resolution with a political declaration on Africa’s development needs was adopted during the closing plenary. On 25 September 2008, the UN Secretary-General and the President of the General Assembly convened a High-Level Event on the MDGs, which evaluated progress towards achieving the goals at the halfway point towards the 2015 target. The event generated an estimated US$16 billion in funding, including over US$4.4 billion for education and approximately US$1.6 billion to enhance food security. Among the initiatives launched at the event were: a global campaign to reduce malaria deaths to near zero by 2015, with initial commitments of over US$3 billion; and a task force on maternal mortality, focused on innovative financing to strengthen health care systems and pay for health care workers. Significant new political and financial commitments were made on all other MDGs as well. IISD Reporting Services coverage for this event can be accessed at: http://www.iisd.ca/ymb/africa-mdgs/sep24.html
UN SECRETARY-GENERAL’S “KEEPING THE PROMISE” REPORT: The UN Secretary-General published a report in February 2010 entitled “Keeping the promise: a forward-looking review to promote an agreed action agenda to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015,” which highlighted lessons learned for accelerating progress in achieving the MDGs, stressing the urgency to broaden and strengthen partnerships to ensure supportive international frameworks for trade, taxation, technology and climate change mitigation and adaptation to sustain long-term human development. It says the interlinkages among the challenges of poverty, food, energy, global recession and climate change present the global community with a unique opportunity to tackle them together. It concludes by stating that guiding principles for further action must include, inter alia: national ownership and leadership complemented by supportive global programmes; recognition of the interdependencies of human rights, gender equality, governance, development and peace and security; an active and equal gender balance; and the need to empower the poor through scaled-up efforts focused on citizen monitoring.
THE MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS REPORT: The report, published by the United Nations in June 2010, details the progress made since the Millennium Declaration in the year 2000. The report emphasized that improvements in the lives of poor have been intolerably slow, and that prior gains in achieving the MDGs have been lost due to climate, food and economic crises. However, it also cites gains in cutting the rate of extreme poverty, getting children into primary schools, addressing AIDS, malaria and child health, and a good chance to reach the target for access to clean drinking water.
ECOSOC HIGH-LEVEL SEGMENT 2010: The High-level Segment of 28 June – 2 July 2010, held at UN Headquarters in New York, focused on a broad range of issues relevant to the implementation of the UN development agenda, and resulted in a Ministerial Declaration reaffirming the importance of gender equality and the empowerment of women in achieving the MDGs. In addition, the High-level Segment’s Development Cooperation Forum informed the MDG Summit’s draft outcome document through its discussions on, inter alia: coherence and transparency of development cooperation; South-South and triangular cooperation; dealing with multiple crises; and improving and increasing cooperation to achieve the MDGs by 2015.
STAND UP, TAKE ACTION, MAKE NOISE FOR THE MDGS: From 17-19 September 2010, citizens gathered at events across the globe to announce their support for the eight MDGs.
DAILY MEETING COVERAGE, SUMMARY REPORT AND INFORMATION PORTAL
IISD Reporting Services will be providing daily web coverage of the round-table sessions, a range of key MDG Summit side events, and partnership events, which can be viewed at http://www.iisd.ca/ymb/mdg/summit2010/. A full summary of these events will be available on Friday, 24 September 2010.