July 5, 2007— At the midpoint to reaching the Millennium Development Goals for 2015, the world’s nations, particularly the poorest ones, have made substantial but uneven progress. In its annual report released on July 2, the United Nations focuses on the countries’ successes and setbacks.
The MDGs are global targets agreed to by world leaders in 2000 on how to improve the lives of poor people.
The new report from the UN echoes findings released earlier this year in the World Bank’s Global Monitoring Report 2007, which found impressive gains in reducing poverty worldwide but much less progress in most of the other goals, including slowing climate change and other steps to protect the environment.
Ensuring environmental sustainability – integrating the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programs and reversing the loss of resources, providing access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation, improving the lives of slum dwellers – is outlined in the Millennium Development Goals as an important part of the global development agenda.
The UN report says “a global effort to eliminate ozone-depleting substances is working, though damage to the ozone layer will persist for some time.” The damaged ozone layer can’t start to heal until there is a significant reduction in chlorofluorocarbons, like Freon, that are still widely used in commerce and industry.
Global warming is caused by holes in the ozone layer and the steady buildup of carbon. The World Bank published an interactive that gives country-by-country data on emissions of carbon dioxide.
Millennium Development Goals
Eradicating poverty and hunger
Achieving universal primary education
Promoting gender equality
Reducing child mortality
Improving maternal health
Ensuring environmental sustainability
Developing a global partnership
While the international development community has long considered environmental sustainability to be an important development safeguard, over the last two years global public awareness and interest in climate change has intensified. To dramatize the threat of global warming, a number of “Live Earth” 24-hour concerts are being held Saturday, July 7, across seven continents.
Last month, the G8 Summit renewed its commitment to fight climate change. Katherine Sierra, World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development, said on that occasion, “G-8 leaders recognized that rich countries need to take the lead in order to get action at the global level,” adding that “developing countries should not be constrained in their development efforts as a result of a fossil fuels intensive development path pursued in rich countries. With the right incentives, they can pursue economic growth and at the same time, move to a lower carbon economy.”