Regional Conflict Insights

  What Should Replace the UN's Millennium Development Goals ?

By Chris Underwood

International Alert has called for a radically different approach to the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in our written submission to the UK’s International Development Committee (IDC).

We outline why the MDGs haven’t worked well from a peacebuilding perspective and suggest a more appropriate model for post-2015. ‘If the post-2015 framework is to deliver for the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world, radically different is what it must be,’ it reads.

The submission is in response to an IDC inquiry on post-2015 development goals and is part of our continued work on the topic. This includes coordinating global civil society’s policy input into the UN’s thematic consultation on how post-2015 goals relate to conflict and disaster as part of the Beyond 2015 coalition. (Read our response to Bringing the peace into the post-2015 development framework here).

The IDC is a committee of UK MPs which examines the expenditure, administration and policy of the UK’s overseas development aid programme.

Here is a summary of the recommendations we submitted:

Experience in conflict-affected and fragile countries, where over 1.5 billion people live and where there are the greatest levels of poverty and least progress towards the MDGs, suggests that the post-2015 development framework must meet the following principles:

  • Development, not aid: concerned with sustainable development progress, not just aid.
  • Comprehensive: covering all the issues that, taken together, comprise development progress.
  • Universality and subsidiarity: applying to all countries equally, but with strategies defined, goals and indicators set, and progress measured by the least centralised authority able to do so.
  • Democracy-enhancing: enhancing accountability by governments to their citizens, and international organisations to their member states.
  • Overarching values: explicitly restating a commitment to the fulfilment of equal human rights.
  • Politically aware: getting a viable balance between technical and political sides of development.
  • Context as the starting point: with goals and strategies based on a full analysis of the context, and priorities devised to suit the national, regional or local realities.
  • Conflict-sensitivity: recognising that development processes have an impact on conflicts, and designing them to minimise the risk of violence and maximise progress towards peace.
  •          Read more at :

 Report on sustainable development  toward Millennium Development Goals

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13 July 2012


Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Secretary-General Appoints Former United Kingdom Prime Minister Gordon Brown

United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appointed former United Kingdom Prime Minister Gordon Brown to the position of United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education.

The appointment builds upon Mr. Brown’s impressive commitment to education as a fundamental right of every child. He has demonstrated unquestionable passion advocating extensively with world leaders, civil society, and the business community to keep the promise of quality education for all by 2015.

As Special Envoy, Mr. Brown will devote himself to working closely with all key partners to help galvanize support for the Secretary-General’s Global Initiative on Education (Education First), which aims to achieve quality, relevant, and inclusive education for every child. He will focus on countries with the highest burden of children out of school, recognizing that nearly half of out-of-school children are in countries affected by conflict. He will help bring about change, mobilize resources and generate additional and sufficient funding.

The Secretary-General is confident Mr. Brown will be a genuine champion for the world’s poorest and that his passion and conviction will re-energize international action for everyone’s right to opportunity through education.

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             Millennium Development Goals: 2012 Progress Chart

The adoption of the Millennium Declaration in 2000 by all United Nations Member States marked an historic moment, as world leaders committed to tackle extreme poverty in its many dimensions and create a better life for everyone. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) translate this commitment into a framework of measurable goals and targets by which progress can be measured.

Progress is tracked against 21 targets and 60 indicators addressing extreme poverty and hunger, education, women’s empowerment and gender equality, health, environmental sustainability and global partnership.

This chart provides an assessement of where we stand on selected key targets relating to each Goal. Trends and levels are measured on the basis of information available as of June 2012. The latest available data for most indicators are from years 2010 to 2012; for a few indicators, the data go back to 2008.

Read more below:

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New model needed for economic growth, says Ban Ki-moon

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State of the World Economy and Finance in 2012 discussed at the UN

A new model for dynamic economic growth that creates jobs and fights poverty is needed, according to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Mr. Ban spoke in the General Assembly on Thursday during a debate on the "State of the World Economy and Finance and its Impact on Development" attended by government leaders.

He said the old model of growth is broken and there is a need for growth that is equitable and that will benefit future generations.

"Every day, we read about the ongoing crisis in the eurozone. Elsewhere, people speak of "recovery" – but it is a largely jobless recovery. Since the financial and economic crisis began, 200 million people have lost jobs and income. In too many places, poverty and inequality are on the rise. Hard-won development gains are under threat."

Duration: 25"

Mr. Ban said the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro next month is an opportunity to establish what he called "a new paradigm" for growth, building on what works and discarding what doesn't.

Filed under Today's News.

From China Daily .com

Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation 2012 Update

UNITED NATIONS - The UN Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of safe water for 88 percent of the globe's population already has been surpassed, but improved sanitation for 75 percent of the world will not be achieved, two UN agencies said on Tuesday.

The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), based at the UN Headquarters in New York, and the World Health Organization (WHO), based in Geneva, Switzerland, released their Joint Monitoring Program (JMP) report, "Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation 2012 Update" with the statistics. The JMP is issued every two years. 

"For children this is especially good news," said UNICEF Executive Director AnthonyLake. "Every day more than 3,000 children die from diarrheal diseases. Achieving this goal will go along way to saving children's lives."

Lake warned in a statement accompanying the report that victory could not yet be declared as at least 11 percent of the world's population -- 783 million people -- are still without access to safe drinking water, and billions without sanitation facilities.

"The numbers are still staggering," he said. "But the progress announced today is proof that MDG targets can be met With the will, the effort and the funds."

The report said that at the end of 2010 almost 6.1 billion people, 89 percent, had improved drinking water while only 63 percent had improved sanitation. By 2015 the statistics were expected to read 92 percent with safe drinking water but only 67 percent with improved sanitation.

Goal C" of MDG No. 7, Ensure environmental sustainability, was to halve by 2015 the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.

The safe water goal is one of the first MDGs to be achieved of the eight MDGs established at the turn of the century as targets to be reached by 2015, the JMP pointed out.

The report said that since 1990, drinking water coverage in the developing world has increased by 16 percentage points with the greatest improvements in China and India while sub-Saharan Africa has the lowest drinking water coverage of any region.

It said that the greatest disparity was between urban and rural coverage.

"An estimated 96 percent of the urban population globally used an improved water supply source in 2010, compared to 81 percent of the rural population," the report said. "This means that 653 million rural dwellers lacked improved sources of drinking water. Similarly, 80 percent of the world's urban population had piped water connections, compared to only 29 percent of people in rural areas."

"Since 1990, more than 2 billion people have gained access to improved drinking water sources," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a forward to the 60-page glossy report. "This achievement is a testament to the commitment of government leaders, public and private sector entities, communities and individuals who saw the target not as a dream, but as a vital step towards improving health and well-being."

While acknowledging the results reported as a "tremendous achievement," the report said "a great deal of work remains."

"First, huge disparities exist. While coverage of improved water supply sources is 90 percent or more in Latin America and the Caribbean, Northern Africa and large parts of Asia, it is only 61 percent in sub-Saharan Africa," the report said. "Coverage in the developing world overall stands at 86 percent, but it is only 63 percent in countries designated as 'least developed.'"

"Second, complete information about drinking water safety is not available for global monitoring," it said. "Systematically testing the microbial and chemical quality of water at the national level in all countries is prohibitively expensive and logistically complicated."

It explained, a proxy indicator was then agreed on that measures the proportion of the population using "improved" drinking water sources, defined as those that, by the nature of their construction, are protected from outside contamination, " particularly fecal matter."

"However, some of these sources may not be adequately maintained and therefore may not actually provide 'safe' drinking water. As a result, it is likely that the number of people using safe water supplies has been over-estimated," the report said.

"Finally, more than 780 million people remain unserved," it said. "Although the MDG drinking water target has been met, it only calls for halving the proportion of people without safe drinking water. More than one tenth of the global population still relied on unimproved drinking water sources in 2010."

As for sanitation, the report said, "More than half of the 2.5 billion people without improved sanitation live in India or China. "

Southern Asia at 41 percent and sub-Saharan Africa at 30 percent struggle with low coverage. But the report said the two regions differ significantly

"In sub-Saharan Africa, 45 percent of the population uses either shared or unimproved facilities, and an estimated 25 percent practice open defecation," it said. "In Southern Asia, the proportion of the population using shared or unimproved facilities is much lower, and open defecation is the highest of any region."

"Although the number of people resorting to open defecation in Southern Asia has decreased by 110 million people since 1990, it is still practiced by 41 percent of the region's population, representing 692 million people," said the report.  

It said that open defecation, still practiced in 19 countries, was largely a rural practice. Nearly 60 percent of those still using open defecation live in India. 


                                         World's Population Reaches 7 Billion 

14 September 2011 –

With the world’s population projected to top 7 billion next month, the United Nations today launched a global initiative – 7 Billion Actions – bringing together governments, businesses, the media and individuals to confront the challenges and seize the opportunities offered by the milestone.

“We are not here simply to acknowledge that milestone. We are here to address all of its vast implications,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told a panel discussion at the launch ceremony at UN Headquarters in New York.

“The seven billionth citizen will be born into a world of contradictions. We have plenty of food yet millions are still starving. We see luxurious lifestyles yet millions are impoverished. We have great opportunities for progress but also great obstacles,” he said, terming the campaign “a clarion call to people, communities, countries and our partners: non-governmental organizations (NGOs), businesses, academics and faith leaders.”

Among challenges beyond grinding poverty and inequality, he cited discrimination, human rights abuses, lack of democracy, violence against women, maternal mortality, climate change and the degradation of the environment.

“These are all the challenges that we can and must overcome,” he said. “If we invest in people, we will reap the best dividends.”

The UN Population Fund (UNFPA), the agency responsible for 7 Billion Actions, noted the implications of the new milestone for sustainability, urbanization and migration in a world where conflicts and weather disasters are driving people from their homes and climate change is exacerbating food and water shortages.

At the same time, new media technology is enabling direct communications between people around the world, creating an unprecedented opportunity to build greater communities and share ideas across borders.

Asked what would happen in the worst-case scenario, if action was not taken now, UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin said that the human spirit seeks to survive and he believes we will do our best to survive.

“But if indeed the worst-case scenario is what gets played out, and we have a population that suffers the great inequities that the Secretary-General talks about and continues to have those inequities, then we have this crisis around the world, the population, the food crisis, the water crisis, issues around migration, issues that deal with land, issues that deal with conflict,” he said.

“That I think we can avoid in many ways if we work with Member States, if we work at the international level to address all of these issues,” he added, summarizing the hopes of the 7 Billion Actions campaign.

Outlining the major actors in the initiative, UNFPA called on governments to show sound leadership in fostering research and technology to improve society, while businesses should use their influence to create economic returns in ways that also create value for society.

The media play a critical role in holding institutions accountable and providing solid information and analysis to build collective wisdom, while individuals must embrace their individual and collective capacity to change and improve the world.

According to the latest UN figures, the world’s population is projected to reach 7 billion on 31 October, surge past 9 billion before 2050 and then reach 10.1 billion by the end of the century if current fertility rates continue at expected levels.

Below artistes sing for peace using one of the Caribbean's best known reggae icons songs "ONE LOVE!" Marley's legacy lives on! 

Now See the Horn of Africa Crisis !

 Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger  

Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education 

Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women

Goal 4: Reduce Child Mortality 

Goal 5: Improve maternal health 

Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases 

Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability 

Goal 8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development.

These are the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. These goals if achieved will take the world much closer to universal peace and development