From September 20th to the 22nd, the United Nations holds a summit on the eight Millennium Development Goals.
Established in 2000 by 191 governments, the MDGs have a target date of 2015. The summit will assess how much progress has been made and determine what still needs to be done.
“We hope to see a renewed commitment by not only world governments, but by the private sector, non-profits and individuals and foundations and all sorts of people to meeting the world’s Millennium development,” says Kathy Calvin, CEO of the United Nations Foundation, which lobbies for the U.N.
The MDGs deal with issues such as poverty, hunger, maternal and child mortality, education, clean water and others. “All the things that will make our world a better place,” says Calvin.
Action, not words
Major international summits usually produce declarations of commitment. However, many NGOs say while intentions may be good, many goals or programs fail to get the timely funding and support they need. But Calvin says the U.N. Millennium Development Summit will produce more than platitudes.
“I’m confident we’re going to see some very exciting commitments this time, not only of money, but of product, of resources that include technology and other new innovations,” she says. “I think we don’t want to just judge everything by strictly what comes from a government’s official development assistance.”
Calvin expects to see many commitments from private companies but adds, “We definitely need government money and the U.S. has put up a really strong development framework that is built around the MDGs. It includes $63 million for a global health initiative. It’s a tough time economically, but I believe everyone now knows that it’s in both the U.S. national interests and in the world’s interests for us to meet these commitments.”
How close to reaching MDGs?
“There’s been enormous progress on universal access to primary education. And we’re likely to get to that one,” she says.
For example, she says countries such as Tanzania and Rwanda have new policies ensuring access to elementary education and protecting women’s health.
“We’re a long way toward meeting those goals, but we’re not there yet. And so we’re hoping that we’ll have a renewed commitment of both financial support and also policy changes on the ground to help us get there,” she says.
Calvin says “real progress” is being made against HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria.
“We’re now looking at ending malaria deaths by the year 2015, which is a tremendous achievement and one that no one expected in the year 2000. While we have five years to go, we know what the specific interventions are. So we know we can just get there if everybody can stay focused,” she says.