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Goal 7: Ensure Environmental Sustainability


 Goal 7
  • Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programs and reverse the loss of environmental resources
  • Reduce biodiversity loss, achieving by 2010 a significant reduction in the rate of loss
  • Halve by 2015 the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation
  • Have achieved a significant improvement by 2020 in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers


Access to water:
Share of population with access to improved water source, % (2006)
Access to water
Click to enlarge image: GIF (63 KB) | PDF (2.3 MB)


Access to safe drinking water is on track globally and in most regions.This is partly thanks to rapid expansion of infrastructure spending. Progress on this part of MDG 7 remains vital for child survival and various health improvements. Between 1990 and 2006 more than 1.6 billion people gained access to improved sources of drinking water, raising the proportion of population with access from 76 percent to 86 percent. As many as 76 developing countries are on track to hit the target. But 23 developing countries have made no progress, and 5 others have fallen back.


Access to sanitation has been elusive. Sanitation coverage rose from 43 percent in 1990 to 55 percent in 2006, in low and middle-income countries. But the global target will be missed. Almost half the people in developing countries lack sanitation. In Sub-Saharan Africa the proportion with access rose from 26 percent in 1990 to just 31 percent in 2006, and in South Asia, from 18 percent to 33 percent.

MDG 7 also calls for integrating sustainable development into country policies and programs and reversing losses of environmental resources. Progress on this broader environmental agenda, fairly slow, is picking up as the world focuses on environmental sustainability and climate change.


More attention should be given to achieving environmental goals. According to the World Bank’s 2010 World Development Report on development and climate change, developing countries can shift to lower-carbon paths while promoting development and reducing poverty, but this depends on financial and technical assistance from high-income countries.

High-income countries, which produced most of the greenhouse gas emissions of the past, must act to shape our climate future, taking actions quickly to reduce their carbon footprints and boost development of alternative energy sources. The costs for getting there will be high but still manageable. A key way to do this is by ramping up funding for mitigation in developing countries, where most future growth in emissions will occur - see World Bank (2010) report for in-depth discussion and treatment.

Greenhouse gases:
Carbon dioxide emissions per capita, metric tons (2005)
Greenhouse gases
Click to enlarge image: GIF (62 KB) | PDF (2.3 MB)


The developing world is on track to meet the target of halving the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water. But nevertheless, in the post-crisis trend, some 100 million more people may remain without access to safe drinking water in 2015.

Figure 4.2 MDG 7
Click to enlarge image: GIF (19 KB) | PDF (87 KB)

Table 4.2 MDG 7
Click to enlarge image: GIF (14 KB) | PDF (131 KB)

Footnote: GMR2010 analyzes risks to the MDGs under three alternate scenarios for GDP growth in developing countries after the financial crisis:

  • The post-crisis trend assumes a relatively rapid economic recovery in 2010, with strong growth continuing into the future. This is the report’s base case forecast.
  • The pre-crisis (high growth) trend gives the forecast path for the MDGs if developing countries had continued their impressive growth performance during 2000–07, the period just before the global economic crisis. The impact of the crisis on the MDGs can thus be measured by comparing the post-crisis trend scenario with this one.
  • The low growth scenario assumes that things that got worse because of the crisis will remain so in the medium run. There is little or no growth for about 5 years, and growth recovers slowly thereafter.