• 1,000 days to MDGs deadline; options for PH | Luiza Carvalho

    26 Apr 2013

    pregnant women attending clinic check-up
    The Philippines must now focus on accelerating and intensifying efforts to reduce maternal mortality, one of the MDGs least likely to be achieved. The country must also increase access to universal primary education, reduce income poverty and vulnerable employment by half, and reverse the rising trend of HIV/AIDS. (Photo: UNICEF Philippines)

    The countdown to the last 1,000 days to the 2015 deadline of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) has begun. On April 5, the world marked the beginning of the critical last mile of the MDGs. 

    Launched in 2000 with the signing of the Millennium Declaration by 189 UN member-countries, the MDGs became the global agenda for development at the start of the new century. Being time-bound and measurable, the MDGs have made a difference and changed the way of achieving development objectives. 

    The 8 MDGs are: the halving of extreme poverty and hunger, universal primary education, gender equality, reduction of child mortality, improved women's health, stoppage and reversal of the spread of TB, malaria and HIV/AIDS, environmental sustainability, and global partnerships for aid, trade and debt relief. The MDGs are measured against 18 targets and 60 indicators.

    Twelve years hence, the MDGs have shown successes in mobilizing the global community into achieving its targets. As of the 2012 Global MDGs Progress Report, 4 targets have been achieved. First, the global target of halving extreme poverty from its 1990 level has been reached, equivalent to 600 million people. 

    The 2012 progress report notes that for the first time since poverty trends began to be monitored, both the number of people living in extreme poverty and the poverty rates have fallen in every developing region, including sub-Saharan Africa, where the rates are highest. The proportion of people living on less than $1.25 a day fell from over 2 billion to less than 1.4 billion. 

    Second, halving the proportion of people without access to improved sources of water means two billion people now have access to improved sources of water, such as piped supplies or protected wells. 

    Third, the target of improving the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers has been achieved ahead of its later 2020 deadline. More than 200 million slum dwellers have gained access to improved water sources and sanitation facilities, or durable or less crowded housing.

    Targeted interventions

    Maternal and child mortality rates have also been dropping. Targeted investments, especially increased access to medication in fighting malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, has saved millions of lives.

    To what are these successes attributed? Clear evidence shows that targeted interventions, sustained by adequate funding and political commitment, have resulted in rapid progress in some areas.

    Many recent studies have been pointing to more specific success factors on why some countries do better than others, such as proactive development states committed to long-term human development, the active promotion of decent and productive work as part of inclusive growth, and the enhancement of public investment in health and education and nurturing productive capacities. The tapping of global markets, and social policy innovations such as social protection, safety nets, education for all, and a universal system of health care have also played a part.

    On another hand, unfulfilled commitments, insufficient resources, lack of focus and accountability, and insufficient dedication to sustainable development have created shortfalls in many areas. Some of these were aggravated by the global food and economic and financial crises, climate change and natural disasters.

    Globally, thus, progress has been uneven. In the 1,000 days to the MDGs deadline, the rallying call is to accelerate the pace and step-up the effort for those MDGs that are lagging behind.

    Fourth, the world has achieved another milestone: parity in primary education between girls and boys. Many more of the world’s children are enrolled in school at the primary level and girls have benefited the most.

    Challenge for PH

    Cited as being an early achiever in gender equality and on track in halving extreme or subsistence poverty, reducing child mortality and creating environmental sustainability, the Philippines must now focus on accelerating and intensifying efforts to reduce maternal mortality - the MDG that is least likely to be achieved in the Philippines.

    The Philippines must also increase access to universal primary education, reduce income poverty and vulnerable employment by half, and reverse the rising trend of HIV/AIDS. 

    The strategy of localization, supported by government convergences in programs that target multiple MDGs, will be crucial in this last mile. Conditions of inequality and disparities across regions and within provinces will also require targeted attention. 

    Local government units (LGUs) are the "vital cog" in this intensification of the MDGs. 

    With the support of the national government, through stronger policy coherence and increased financial resources, the private sector, through resources and investment decisions, and the civil society, through advocacy and monitoring, the next 1,000 days offers the opportunity for the country to muster the political will and dedicate its best in harnessing its resources to achieve the MDGs nationwide. 

    As the world is now coming closer to 2015 and the post-2015 agenda is unraveling, the MDGs have indeed shown the way to development. The new post-2015 development agenda will benefit from the lessons learned from the MDGs. 

    In 2000, the MDGs were embraced as a unifying theme of global development. The momentum that the MDGs created when the Millennium Declaration was signed is going for a final push. 

    It will always stand as a remarkable moment where all nations were able to reach consensus towards progress and development of humankind. That momentum has to be kept alive more than ever. It will spell the difference for the MDGs in the journey of the next 1,000 days to 2015.(Note: the article first appeared in Rappler.com)


About the Author
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Luiza Carvalho is the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in the Philippines.