The Campaign

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are eight international development goals that all 193 United Nations member states have agreed to achieve by the year 2015. The goals are:

  1. eradicating extreme poverty and hunger,
  2. achieving universal primary education,
  3. promoting gender equality and empowering women,
  4. reducing child mortality rates,
  5. improving maternal health,
  6. combating HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases,
  7. ensuring environmental sustainability, and
  8. developing a global partnership for development. 

Each of the goals has specific stated targets and dates for achieving those targets. The MDGs were developed out of the eight chapters of the Millennium Declaration, signed in September 2000. There are eight goals with 21 targets, and a series of measurable indicators for each target.

In March 2010, the UN Secretary-General presented his MDG Progress Report, in which he indicated that if nations deliver on their financial commitments, the world can still achieve the MDGs. He said that "falling short of the MDGs would be an unacceptable failure, moral and practical”.

We know it can be done:

The Millennium Development Goals are unique in many powerful ways: They represent an explicit agreement between all the world’s major economic players, with poor countries pledging to improve policies and governance and increase accountability to their own citizens, and wealthy countries pledging to provide the necessary resources. For the first time, entire governments are committed to the achievement of a jointly agreed recipe to end global poverty.

And for the first time, governments have agreed to measure their performance. The Goals are not just lofty statements of intent: precise monitoring mechanisms have been put in place, in the form of national Millennium Goals reports and the Secretary General’s reports to the General Assembly.

The Goals are clearly achievable. Individual Goals have already been achieved by many countries in the space of only 10-15 years. Countries like Ethiopia, Tanzania, Bangladesh, Nepal, The Gambia, Rwanda, Eritrea, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, Honduras, Egypt, Uganda, Zambia, South Africa or Vietnam have achieved remarkable success in getting on track to meet certain Goals, often in the face of extreme poverty, war, natural disasters and other major challenges.

The Millennium Development Goals can be met in every nation. Governments must simply make the achievement of the Goals a priority, invest the necessary resources and ensure accountability to their citizens.

Ireland has an obligation:

Ireland signed up to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) at the Millennium Summit in September 2000, as world leaders came together in a landmark moment to insist that they would not tolerate the extreme inequality in the world and would do all in their power to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. Through the MDGs, they created an unprecedented shared framework to eradicate extreme poverty through coordinated global action.

In support of the MDGs, Ireland pledged to increase its overseas aid (Official Development Assistance - ODA), so that we would reach the UN target of spending 0.7% of national income on overseas aid. Since the Millennium Summit, Ireland has repeatedly stated its support for the MDGs, and it is showing leadership in relation to HIV and AIDS, hunger and aid effectiveness.

Building on the assumption that “business as usual” will not get us to the Goals by 2015, this year we all have to assess our own contributions to make the MDG a reality.