The UN marked the 500-day milestone of time left to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), with statements and events noting both successes and challenges towards achieving the eight goals.
UN leaders and others urged a final push for global action in the remaining 500 days until the end of 2015.
18 August 2014: The UN marked the 500-day milestone of time left to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), with statements and events noting both successes and challenges towards achieving the eight goals. UN leaders and others urged a final push for global action in the remaining 500 days until the end of 2015.
MDG successes to date include: reducing extreme poverty by 50%; expanding access to primary education and narrowing gender gaps in education; decreasing child and maternal mortality; and declining rates of HIV infections and deaths from malaria and tuberculosis. However, 1.2 billion people still live in extreme poverty, disparities remain at all education levels, pollution is increasing and progress towards environmental sustainability, including action on climate change, remains insufficient.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon marked the countdown at an interactive dialogue, ‘500 Days of Action to Build a Better World,’ with the participation of 500 youth, including Malala Yousafzai, at UN Headquarters in New York, US. Ban recognized youth’s contribution to building a better world for all, noting: “It is often said that young people are the leaders of tomorrow, but you have already taken a lot of important decisions, a lot of actions.” He encouraged others to follow Malala’s example, emphasizing “each and every one of you can make a difference.” Malala urged youth to advocate for universal primary education.
Ban called for action in four areas: 1) strategically investing in health, education, energy and sanitation, with a focus on empowering women and girls; 2) focusing on the poorest and most vulnerable countries, communities and social groups; 3) keeping financial promises; and 4) deepening global cooperation among governments, civil society, the private sector and other networks. Ban said that while the challenges are “daunting,” the world now has “many more tools at our disposal…from the expanding reach of technology to the growing understanding of what works and what does not.” He concluded, “action now will save lives, build a solid foundation for sustainable development far beyond 2015 and help lay the groundwork for lasting peace and human dignity.”
With 2.5 billion people lacking access to a decent toilet or latrine, Jan Eliasson, UN Deputy Secretary-General, urged action “to halt open defecation, improve sanitation and save lives” in a blog post on Devex. He highlighted the Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) global partnership as key in achieving commitments for improving water and sanitation access.
Political will and appropriate policies are critical in ending extreme poverty, writes Erik Solheim, Chair of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Development Assistance Committee (OECD-DAC) and UN Development Programme (UNDP) Envoy for Environment, Conflict and Disaster, also in a Devex post. Solheim shares development success stories, such as the way good education and industrial policies “created a prosperous state with a productive sector” in South Korea, to illustrate the importance of “countries making the right political decisions.” Solheim highlights the role of domestic resources, such as taxes, in mobilizing financing to achieve development goals, and pointed to OECD’s programs, Tax for Development and Tax Inspectors without Borders.
The UN Special Envoy for Health Financing, Ray Chambers, discusses three ways to improve the world’s chances of reaching the MDGs, in ‘How Many Lives Can We Save in 500 Days?” He highlights the importance of: a global financing boost that supports final MDG efforts and lays the foundation for future sustainable funding approaches; commitments of all global health actors to “remain laser focused on saving lives and doing their best to track and report on those lives saved”; and maximizing existing health service delivery platforms to avoid missed opportunities for integration.
UNDP tweeted photo highlights on MDG achievements during a 500-minute long “digital rally” on the day. [Secretary-General Remarks] [Secretary-General Message] [UNRIC Press Release] [UNDP Digital Rally] [UNFCCC Press Release] [Deputy Secretary-General Post] [Solheim Post] [Chambers Post] [SWA Website] [Envoy for Health Financing Website]