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New Challenges Emerge at Millennium Development Goals’ Half-Way Point

Available in: 中文, Français, Español, العربية
  • Eight years into the millennium, some progress has been made on key development goals
  • But rising food and fuel prices and the global financial crisis threaten to push millions back into poverty
  • Leaders urged to meet financial commitments to address development needs

September 25, 2008—The good news:

Some 400 million fewer people live in absolute poverty today than in 1990.

At least 90 percent of boys and girls in all but two regions of the world are enrolled in school.

Deaths from measles fell from 750,000 in 2000 to less than 250,000 in 2006, and 80 percent of children in developing countries are now vaccinated against the disease.

Some 1.6 billion more people than in 1990 can now get safe drinking water.

These gains and others are the result of a global effort “unsurpassed” in 50 years of development history, according to a new United Nations report on the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) based on data from a number of organizations, including the World Bank.

But as nearly 100 heads of state and government leaders meet today in New York at a high-level UN event marking the half-way point for the MDGs, 1.4 billion people still live on less than $1.25 a day and new challenges threaten the achievement of global anti-poverty goals.

Alt Text
Robert B. Zoellick with Shimon Peres,
President of Israel, at the MDG Summit

Food, fuel and other commodity prices have risen dramatically over the last year and threaten to push 100 million people back into poverty, according to the World Bank.

The current United States-based financial crisis could affect other economies and slow growth that has helped lift many people in emerging nations out of poverty in the last decade.

The UN’s MDG report says a number of anti-poverty goals and targets are likely to be missed. Greater effort is needed to lift people out of extreme poverty in sub-Saharan Africa, reduce the number of malnourished children, prevent maternal and child deaths, and achieve greater equality for women, among other goals.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged leaders to commit US$72 billion in aid annually to Africa to help meet the MDGs by the target year of 2015. The amount falls within “existing aid commitments,” Ban Ki-moon said.

Joining world leaders at the summit is World Bank President Robert Zoellick, who said: "Now more than ever, it is important that governments keep their commitments to increase aid to the most vulnerable people. We now need a human rescue package for the many millions who are left behind each and every day."





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