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Child mortality goal for 2030 unattainable

Press release | 02-07-2009

The United Nations’ Millennium Development Goal (MDG) to reduce the 1990 child mortality level by two-thirds come 2015, will not be achieved. For sub-Saharan Africa, child mortality figures may not have been halved until at least 2030, compared to mortality levels of 1990. A considerable proportion of these child deaths is related to hunger, lack of safe drinking water and sanitation, and the use of coal and wood for cooking and heating. The lives of millions of children could be saved through increased agricultural productivity, efficient water use and the availability of clean and affordable energy. This, according to the report ‘Beyond 2015: Long-term development and the Millennium Development Goals’, by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL), which has investigated long-term trends and their effect on the millennium development goals.

Land degradation and pollution

Many people living in poverty are strongly dependent on natural resources, such as fertile agricultural land, safe drinking water, and sufficient water for irrigation. These natural resources are under constant pressure from an increasing demand for food, water and energy, by a growing population, in a growing economy. These pressures lead to land degradation, air and water pollution, and loss in biodiversity. In addition, there is climate change, also effecting land productivity and water availability. Unsurprisingly, results for most environmental goals also show a further decline.

Persisting poverty and hunger in sub-Saharan Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia will experience growing poverty. In sub-Saharan Africa, the MDG of halving poverty (MDG1) may not be achieved until 2030. Moreover, by 2015, with a relatively high population growth in poorer regions, some 600 million people would have to survive on less than one dollar a day, and this number is expected to reduce to 400 million by 2030. The goal to halve hunger will probably also not be achieved in most developing regions. We expect that, by 2030, the number of people suffering from hunger would remain at 700 million.

The MDG agenda beyond 2015

With the approach of the MDG target year 2015, international policymakers need to think about a post-MDG development agenda to guide long-term development policies. Poverty and hunger will still exist by 2015, and health improvements and environmental degradation will remain important focal points. In addition, new development challenges may arise, because demographic, economic and environmental processes are slow moving, and their impact will not become evident until after 2015.

Millennium Development Goals

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) aim to improve basic quality of life, and are leading on the agenda for international policy on development and sustainable poverty reduction. Although substantial progress has been made over the last 15 years, the report shows this to be insufficient for achieving all goals in all regions by 2015. Many of the goals will not even be achieved by 2030. Reducing child mortality by two-thirds seems to be the most difficult target, requiring substantial additional development policy efforts.

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