Beyond 2015: Long-term development and the Millennium Development Goals

02-07-2009 | Publication

More than a billion people live in poverty, without adequate food, safe drinking water or clean energy. Aimed at providing basic quality of life, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are leading on the agenda for development policies. Although substantial progress has been made over the last 15 year, 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 policy efforts.

Millennium Development Goals: progress expected, but not enough and not everywhere

Poverty and hunger are persistent

Poverty will become more concentrated in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. In Sub Saharan Africa, the MDG target of halving poverty will just be achieved in 2030. Nevertheless, with the relatively high population growth in poorer regions, some 600 million people will have less than one dollar per day in 2015, and this number will reduce to 400 million in 2030. The goal to halve hunger will not be achieved in most developing regions. The number of people suffering from hunger reduces only slightly and remains over 700 million until 2030.

Child mortality a difficult goal to achieve

From as high as 20% children dying before the five years of age, the level in 1990, child mortality in Sub-Saharan Africa is almost halved by 2030. This is a major achievement but far from the MDG target of a two-third reduction in 2015 on the 1990 level. A considerable proportion of these child deaths is related to hunger, lack of safe drinking water and sanitation and the use of traditional energy sources which are largely preventable. The lives of millions of children could be saved as a result of higher agricultural productivity, efficient water use and availability of clean and affordable energy. In practice, most of these technologies, including medical technology, are not available in developing countries because of inadequate infrastructure and energy supplies, and patents on drugs.

Environment vital for development

A sound natural resource base is one of the most valuable assets for the poor, providing ecosystem goods and services such as fertile soil for agriculture and clean water for drinking and irrigation. But the natural resource base is under constant pressure as population and economic development increase demand for food, water and energy. These trends result in land degradation, pollution of water soil and air, growing competition for water, and decreasing forest cover and biodiversity. In addition, climate change puts further pressure on land productivity and water availability. As a result, most of the targets set to ensure environmental sustainability (MDG7) will be not met.

Ending global poverty requires a development agenda beyond 2015

Getting closer to the MDG target year of 2015, the international community needs to start thinking about a post-MDG development agenda to guide long-term development policies and to end global poverty. In 2015, poverty and hunger, may be halved but will still exist, and elimination of health risks and environmental degradation will continue to be major concerns. Furthermore, new development challenges may arise because demographic, economic and environmental processes are slow moving and their impacts will only become evident after 2015. This study can help to identify these challenges, explore quantitative targets and thus support the process of creating a new phase in the development agenda to follow on from the current MDGs that looks beyond 2015.