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EDITORIAL: MDG goals behind schedule

rhondathompson, [email protected]

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THE TARGET DATE for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is five years away. The world is still recovering from a historic financial and economic crisis and any recovery is uncertain and likely to be uneven. The eight goals – which range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by the target date of 2015 – form a blueprint agreed to by all countries and leading development institutions. Unprecedented efforts have been galvanised to meet the needs of the world’s poorest.It is known from past experiences that the harm to human development during bad times cut far deeper than the gains during upswings. It is therefore necessary for the developing world in particular to be able to revive its economic growth in order to meet these goals. Under these conditions, it is especially important to consider actions to achieve the MDGs by the 2015 deadline. Nonetheless the state of the global economy doesn’t give rise to much optimism that even the short-term objectives could be achieved. It is important that the lessons from MDG experiences to date be learnt. The recently published 2010 Global Monitoring Report could contribute to that assessment, as part of an MDG review led by the United Nations. It is important to examine how countries have performed in overcoming poverty and fostering human development since the onset of the global financial crisis. This year’s report, The MDGs After The Crisis, sets out to answer this and other critical issues. It highlights lessons from the crisis and presents forecasts about poverty and other key indicators. It says the the major lesson from the current crisis is that macroeconomic stabilisation is not enough. If strong safety nets are not in place, the social fallout could be devastating; leading to increase in communicable diseases and malnutrition.  The economic and social impact of the downturn would have been much worse if not for the effective policy responses from many advanced and developing countries, and the change in policies by international financial institutions and multilateral development banks.  There is general agreement that policy responses and international cooperation have been much more sensitive than in the past. According to report, the post-crisis MDG scorecard is still being tallied but there is little doubt the goals will not be achieved on time. Given the scale of the economic downturn, it is difficult to gauge the effect on the developing world and to analyse the effectiveness of international aid. Despite the challenges, significant harm to education, health, nutrition, and poverty, especially in low-income countries, has been done.  Luckily there has been some progress in East Asia, but it is estimated that by yearend, an additional 64 million people will fall into extreme poverty due to the crisis. And by 2015, 53 million fewer people will have escaped poverty. By any measure the future is bleak for poor countries.