The United Nations are busily hailing Millennium Development Goals a success. The Millennium Development Goals Report 2015 found that the 15-year effort to achieve the eight aspirational goals set out in the Millennium Declaration in 2000 was largely successful across the globe. The United Nations claims it has cut poverty by half. he number of people now living in extreme poverty has declined by more than half, falling from 1.9 billion in 1990 to 836 million in 2015.
“The world met that goal – and we should be very proud of that achievement.” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said.
Jens Martens, Executive Director of Global Policy Forum (New York/Bonn), told IPS rather bluntly”The MDGs are not a success story.” They reduced the development discourse to a small number of quantitative goals and targets and did not touch the structural framework conditions of development, he said. Pointing out some of the shortcomings, he said the goal on income poverty has been weak and the threshold of 1.25 dollars per day completely inadequate. Someone with a per capita income of 1.26 dollars is still poor. “And focusing only on income poverty is not at all sufficient. Governments have to deal with the problems of poverty and inequality in all their dimensions.” Martens said the lessons from the MDGs show that development goals are only useful if they are linked to clear commitments by governments to provide the necessary means of implementation.
Ben Phillips, International Campaigns and Policy Director at ActionAid, explained world leaders cannot fulfil their pledge to end poverty unless they tackle the crisis of the widening gap in wealth and power between the richest and the rest. Ending poverty by 2030 cannot and should not be only an arithmetic exercise on the basis of very low dollar poverty lines which will not guarantee a life of dignity for all, he said. “If people go to bed hungry, don’t have access to water and sanitation, to education or health coverage, the income threshold is not the end of poverty,” Phillips said. “The world can overcome poverty and ensure dignity for all if political leaders find the courage to challenge inequality…” Governments need to stand up to corporate interests who are now so powerful that they are not only the sole beneficiaries of global rigged rules but the co-authors of them, he argued. “It’s clear that governments will only take on the power of money if they are challenged by the power of the people.” Disappointingly for socialists Phillips could only repeat the mantra of the reformists. “…boosting jobs, increasing minimum wages, providing universal public services, stopping tax dodging and tackling climate change.”
According to the report, women continue to face discrimination in access to work, economic assets and participation in private and public decision-making. Children from the poorest 20 per cent of households are more than twice as likely to be stunted as those from the wealthiest 20 per cent and are also four times as likely to be out of school.