The UN High Level Summit on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will be held in New York next week. The meeting aims at reviewing progress made towards the development goals and adding additional momentum into the global fight against poverty. As the world leading donor, contributing with around 56% of global aid, the EU remains firmly committed to reaching the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 and will call on all partners to increase their efforts and focus on results. To this end, the European Commission has proposed to devote up to €1 billion to reward performing partner countries and to support the most off-track ones in recognition of their engagement and needs.
Ten years ago, world leaders agreed on eight Millennium Development Goals to take decisive action to combat world poverty in its different dimensions. Using time-bound and measurable targets, they agreed that by 2015:
- Poverty and hunger should be reduced by one half,
- Full primary education for all should be ensured,
- Gender disparity should be eliminated,
- Maternal mortality should be reduced by two thirds,
- Child mortality should be reduced by three quarters,
- The spread of HIV/AIDS and incidence of malaria and other major diseases should be halted,
- Environmental sustainability should be ensured,
- A Global Partnership for Development should be developed.
Progress on the MDGs has been strong and sustained in some areas: Extreme poverty decreased from 1.8 billion in 1990 to 1.4 billion in 2005. Enrolment in primary education is at 89%, up from 82% in 1999. If current trends continue, 86% of people in developing regions will have access to clean water in 2015. However, progress has been highly uneven among regions, countries and population groups. Some targets are also globally off-track: It is estimated that in 2009 more than 1 billion people suffered from hunger. Maternal mortality is not decreasing nearly fast enough to meet the target for 2015 and the number of people living with HIV worldwide continues to grow.
The Treaty of Lisbon establishes the reduction and the eradication of poverty as the primary objective of the Union’s development cooperation policy. As part of global MDG efforts, the European Union as a whole has committed to lift its level of development aid to 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI) by 2015. At currently €49 billion per year, the EU and its Member States remain the largest global donor, but progress on reaching the threshold of 0.7% needs to be accelerated: In 2009 development aid reached 0.42% of GNI for the whole EU.