Mphatso Gumulira, 15, with her son Zayitwa in the Queen Elizabeth hospital in Blantyre, Malawi. By DFID – UK Department for International Development, russavia – Wikimedia Commons.
There are 500 days until the deadline for the UN’s ambitious Millennium Development Goals (MDG). The UN MDG Report released this past July indicated that much progress had been made towards achieving these goals.
According to the report, the number of people living in poverty had been reduced to half, a great achievement five years ahead of schedule. However, many issues still remain to be addressed. The most pressing being climate change (carbon dioxide emissions increased by approximately 50 percent since 1990) and lopsided development, especially in sub-Saharan Africa where the number of people living in extreme poverty was 414 million in 2010, compared to 290 million in 1990.
In the forward to the report, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon stated,“We know that achievements have been uneven between goals, among and within regions and countries, and between population groups.”
The following is Ban Ki-moon’s message calling for “500 Days of Action to Build a Better World” in which he emphasizes the need for youth involvement:
“Adopted by world leaders in the year 2000, the MDGs are an ambitious 15-year road map to fight poverty, hunger and disease, protect the environment and expand education, basic health and women’s empowerment.
This week marks a milestone on the journey: we are now 500 days from the conclusion of the MDGs. Quietly, yet cumulatively, against the predictions of cynics, the MDGs have helped unite, inspire and transform.
Global poverty has been cut in half. More girls are in school. More families have better access to improved water sources. More mothers are surviving child birth and more children are living healthier lives. We are making huge inroads in fighting malaria, tuberculosis and other killer diseases.
I have met many individuals who owe their survival to this campaign. Yet, millions still struggle against extreme poverty and inequality. Too many communities have no proper sanitation. Too many families are still being left behind. And our world faces the clear and present danger of climate change.
Now is the time for MDG Momentum. The ideas and inspiration of young people will be especially critical in this effort and their role must grow even more. That is why I will mark the 500-day MDG moment at United Nations Headquarters with education advocate Malala Yousafzai and 500 young people.
Action in four areas can help fuel progress. First, making strategic investments in health, education, energy and sanitation, with a special focus on empowering women and girls, which boosts results across the board.
Second, focusing on the poorest and most vulnerable countries, communities and social groups that have the toughest road to progress despite their best efforts.
Third, keeping our financial promises. These are difficult budgetary times. But, budgets should never be balanced on the backs of society’s weakest individuals.
Fourth, deepening cooperation among Governments, civil society, the private sector and other networks around the world that have helped make the MDGs the most successful global anti-poverty push in history.
The challenges are daunting. Yet, we have many more tools at our disposal than at the turn of the millennium, from the expanding reach of technology to the growing understanding of what works and what does not.
Action now will save lives, build a solid foundation for sustainable development far beyond 2015 and help lay the groundwork for lasting peace and human dignity. We have 500 days to accelerate MDG action. Let’s make every day count.”