Despite great strides in poverty reduction in the last two decades, more than 1 billion people still live on less than $1 a day, while 2.7 billion live on less than $2 a day. Over the next 50 years, world population is projected to grow from six to nine billion, with almost 95 percent of that increase in developing countries.
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), agreed to by 189 nations in 2000 at the United Nations Millennium Summit, signify an unprecedented level of consensus on what is needed for sustainable poverty reduction. The Goals represent an ambitious, yet critical agenda for reducing poverty, improving lives and the environment, and involving developed countries in improving the lives for millions of people.
ImagineNations believes the MDGs play an important role in accelerating the pace, focusing the direction and measuring the progress of human development around the world. By mobilizing young people in envisioning a better life for themselves and for their countries, ImagineNations aims to underscore the mission of the MDGs. We see young people as problem solvers, as active players in helping their communities and countries achieve the MDGs.
"If the Millennium Development Goals to halve extreme poverty and hunger by 2015 and build a better world for all are to be achieved, it will require even more than a commitment from governments, business and international organizations. In the end, it will depend on millions of ordinary citizens claiming their own future, men and women working toward their achievement, united behind a common vision. In the developing world, where more than 50 percent of the population is under 25 years of age, it's clear that young people have a critical part to play in the fight against poverty. Young people not only represent the future, they are also a rich source of the kinds of innovative solutions needed to address some of the most pressing problems facing us today. The work of ImagineNations is a bold and creative example of what can be done to harness this, all too often, untapped potential."
The Goals set specific targets toward which the entire development community would work:
Each of these goals has more specific targets and indicators, designed to provide measures to assess a nation's progress toward achieving the goals.
The Goals serve as guides for national and international policy and program development and involve cooperation between international organizations (e.g., UNDP, UNICEF, WHO, FAO, IMF, World Bank, WTO), national governments, banks, businesses and civil society. The specific goals, targets and indicators of the Goals provide a holistic presentation of key human development needs and characteristics within each country. Understanding the progress and/or challenges of a country in regard to meeting the MDGs, helps create an integrated, multi-leveled and broad-based appreciation of the human/youth situation in that country.
Today's globalization is one of stark contrasts. There are more connections-markets, people and ideas are linked as never before. At the same time, there are more divisions-between North and South, between rich and poor, between the powerful and powerless.
These divides can be seen in statistics. According to the 2005 United Nations Human Development Report, at a time of unparalleled prosperity for some, 54 countries were poorer now than they were a decade ago. In 14 countries, more children were dying before their fifth birthday. In 21 countries, more people were going hungry. In 34 countries, life expectancy has fallen. Worldwide, the number of people living in chronic poverty and daily insecurity has not changed for more than 10 years, with women and children suffering disproportionately.
No one will deny any longer that turmoil in one region can spread rapidly to others, through terrorism, armed conflict, environmental degradation or disease as demonstrated by the rapid spread of AIDS around the globe in a single generation.
While the connections are evident, we seem further apart in finding ways to tackle global problems in a coordinated way where the burdens and responsibilities are shared.
According to the United Nations Millennium Project 2005, sub-saharan Africa is the epicenter of crisis, with continuing food insecurity, a rise of extreme poverty, stunningly high child and maternal mortality, and large numbers of people living in slums, and a widespread shortfall for most of the MDGs. Asia is the region with the fastest progress, but even there hundreds of millions of people remain in extreme poverty, and even fast-growing countries fail to achieve some of the non-income Goals. Other regions have mixed records, notably Latin America, the transition economies, and the Middle East and North Africa, often with slow or no progress on some of the Goals and persistent inequalities undermining progress on others.
The MDGs are a very simple but powerful idea - they are the international community's effort to set the terms of globalization not solely driven by the interests of the strong, but managed in the interests of the poor.
For additional information, country reports, data/statistics and publications, please visit the following Web sites:
For schools/teaching resources on MDGs, visit