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Global Monitoring Report Warns on MDG Goals

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  • ‘Some targets are literally a matter of life or death.’
  • Nutrition identified as one of shortfalls.
  • Urgent action on climate change tied to achieving goals.

April 8, 2008 — At the halfway mark to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) deadline of 2015, the world has not made the necessary progress, but success is still possible given certain conditions, said World Bank economist Zia Qureshi, lead author of this year’s Global Monitoring Report.

While much of the world is on track to halve extreme poverty by the deadline, prospects are much graver for the goals of reducing child and maternal mortality, and serious shortfalls are also expected in education, nutrition, and sanitation. On current trends, Sub-Saharan Africa could miss all the MDGs, despite impressive growth performance of recent years. South Asia is seriously behind on the goals related to health and education.

“Behind these statistics are of course real people, and lack of progress has immediate and tragic consequences,” said Qureshi. “Some targets are literally a matter of life or death: There are now 3 million more children who survive past the age of five, but there are 10 million children a year who don’t.”

Six-Point Process Proposed to Speed Progress

Difficult, yes, but not impossible, says the report. Most countries could still achieve most of the MDGs if developed and developing countries do their parts as agreed to in the 2002 Monterrey Consensus. The Global Monitoring Report proposes a six-point agenda to move the process along, calling for stronger and more inclusive growth in Africa and fragile states, more effort in health and education, integration of the development and environment agendas, more and better aid, movement on trade negotiations and stronger and more focused support from international institutions like the Bank.

Speaking last week at the Center for Global Development, Bank president Robert B. Zoellick called for a New Deal for Global Food Policy to address the “forgotten MDG”: nutrition.

“Even though hunger and malnutrition fall under the very first MDG, beyond traditional food aid, they receive only about one tenth of the resources appropriately directed to HIV/AIDS, another killer. Yet malnutrition is the MDG with the greatest “multiplier” effect: it is the largest risk factor for kids under five and the underlying cause of an estimated 3.5 million of their deaths each year. More than 20 percent of maternal deaths are traced to malnutrition,” said Zoellick. “Hunger and malnutrition are a cause, not just a result, of poverty.”

Zoellick has also stressed that the 2008 halfway point must be a turning point, joining the UN, the UK and other donors in declaring this a Year of Action on the MDGs.

Environment-Development Link Emphasized

This year’s Global Monitoring Report, subtitled “MDGs and the Environment—Agenda for Inclusive and Sustainable Development,” stresses the link between environment and development and calls for urgent action on climate change. It argues that environmental sustainability underpins progress on other MDGs. If forests are lost, soils degraded, and water and air polluted, and greenhouse gas emissions not contained, achievements in poverty reduction and human development will not be sustainable.

While per capita GDP growth in developing countries has contributed strongly to poverty reduction, developing countries will need support in order to achieve growth with environmental sustainability if they are not to lose hard-won gains. Developing countries will suffer most from climate change and are least able to adapt. Transition to climate-resilient and low-carbon growth will require financing and technology transfer to developing countries, the report says.

“Developing countries need more foreign aid and domestic resources to reach the MDGs. High economic growth and a stable macroeconomic environment remain essential for reducing poverty and increasing investment in health and education,” said Dominique Strauss-Kahn, IMF Managing Director.



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