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Sustainable development goals (SDGs)

To celebrate the Millennium in 2000, the UN General Assembly agreed a set of eight Millennium Development goals (MDGs) , which involved primarily promoting sustainable development goals in developing countries to meeting human needs by 2015. The commitment entered into by the world’s leaders was “to spare no effort to free our fellow men, women and children from the abject and dehumanising conditions of extreme poverty”.

In his summary of the achievements of the MDGs, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon noted that ‘the world community has reason to celebrate. Thanks to the concerted efforts at all levels of society and governance, the MDGs have saved the lives of millions of people and improved living conditions for many more. The targeted interventions together with adequate resources and political have resulted in even the poorest countries making unprecedented progress”.

These successes include –

  • those suffering from extreme hunger and poverty have been halved in the past two decades, the number of undernourished people having decreased by 640 million to 795 million.
  • child mortality in the under-five age group declined by more than 50% and so did the number of deaths.
  • measles vaccination helped prevent nearly 16 million deaths and the proportion of children vaccinated increased from 75% to 84%.
  • the number of people with improved access to clean water increased by 1 billion (or 15% of the world population) over this period.
  • more than 900 million insecticide-treated mosquito nets were delivered to malaria endemic centres in sub Saharan Africa resulting in 6 million fewer deaths of children primarily under the age of 5 years old.


These successful interventions led the world leaders at a special meeting of the General Assembly of the United Nations in September 2015 to agree a new set of Sustainable Development Goals for the following 15 years from 2016 to 2030. Ban-Ki Moon, the UN Secretary General observed that “ we need to tackle root causes and do more to integrate the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development …. and to leave no one behind and to create a world of dignity for all”.

Climate change is but one of 17 SDGs but it will impact many of the other goals making these harder to achieve such as eliminating extreme poverty and hunger.




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