In September 2000, 189 world leaders met at the United Nations and agreed on a roadmap setting out eight time-bound and measurable goals to address extreme poverty by 2015.  These goals became known as the Millennium Development Goals.

In summary, these goals are:

  1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  2. Achieve universal primary education
  3. Promote gender equality and empower women
  4. Reduce child mortality
  5. Improve maternal health
  6. Combat HIV-AIDS, malaria and other diseases
  7. Ensure environmental sustainability
  8. Develop a Global Partnership for development

This week world leaders (and a multitude of other stakeholders) are gathering again in New York to review progress made towards implementing the MDGs in the past decade and develop new strategies to help accelerate progress towards 2015.  Opinions vary as to how much progress has been made over the past decade and how achievable the goals are by 2015.  Here is a UN summary chart General opinion leans in the direction of believing that significant progress has been made that may have taken longer without the MDG commitments, but that much, much more still remains to be done.

How can local and national NGOs link to the MDGs? Like other documents with universal appeal (and media attention) the MDGs when understood and used effectively can help local and national NGOs in many ways including: (1) Finding partners to forward their own work and the leverage it to have greater impact and (2)  Increasing their opportunities to catch the attention of policy makers and funders who are following these broader global issues.

Here are two examples:

1)  The Center for Human Emergence in the Netherlands has a technique called ‘meshworking’ for facilitating and expanding partnerships.  They partnered with a Dutch Parliamentarian, the Interparliamentary Union, the World Health Organization and business and other NGO representatives to hold a successful conference focusing additional collaborative efforts towards implementing MDG Goals #4 & 5.  From this came the establishment of a MDG5 Meshwork f or Improving Maternal Health.

2)      The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)  has had a successful neonatal resuscitation curriculum for birth attendants that pre-dated the MDGs.  Connecting to MDG #4 “Reducing Child Mortality” has helped the AAP to partner across sectors with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Laerdal company of Norway, other internationally oriented NGOs such as Save the Children, national Ministries of Health, and local health facilities and programs to scale up this program to an extent that would have taken much longer and have been much harder to do without the framework that the MDGs provided for such global partnerships.  More on this scale-up.

How can individual link to the MDGs?

Individuals who would like to help forward the MDGs can follow websites like We Can End Poverty and/or link to groups that are working in their local area to keep pressures on governments to keep their commitments.

Some additional perspectives:

1) Right in Principle, Right in Practice by Anthony Lake, UNICEF

2) Linda Raintree of Plan International on ICTs and the MDGs

3) Rock star and activist Bono, MDGs for Beginners and Finishers