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Millennium Development Goals

December 2011

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are eight international development goals that were agreed to by the United Nations in September 2000. The intent of the MDGs is to reduce or eradicate extreme poverty and its effects. All UN members have agreed to achieve these goals by 2015.

The eight MDGs are:

  • 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.

The eight goals are broken down into 21 International Development Targets (IDTs) and 60 indicators in order to measure progress and achievement. Each country’s progress on these indicators is on the Millennium Development Goals Indicators website.

The Millennium Development Goals, developed countries and Official Development Assistance

Most of the goals are targeted towards developing countries, but there is also a role for developed countries. Goal 8 sets objectives for developed countries to enhance debt relief for least developed countries, make technological benefits (such as telephones, computers and access to the internet) available to them, and greatly enhance Official Development Assistance (ODA)

The MDG target for ODA is set at 0.7 percent of Gross National Income (GNI). This target was first pledged in a General Assembly Resolution in 1970 and has been repeatedly endorsed since then. As at 2009 the countries to have achieved the 0.7 percent ODA level were Denmark, Sweden, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Norway.

Comparison of Net ODA as a percentage of GNI: selected countries

Net ODA as a percentage of GNI 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 (provisional)
New Zealand 0.27 0.27 0.30 0.28 0.26
Australia 0.30 0.32 0.32 0.29 0.32
Canada 0.29 0.29 0.33 0.30 0.33
United Kingdom 0.51 0.36 0.43 0.51 0.56

Source: Net ODA as percentage of OECD/DAC donors GNI

Of the 23 member countries of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC), six have not set a timetable for increasing their ODA to 0.7 percent of GNI: Australia (which has committed to 0.5 percent by 2015), Canada, Japan, Switzerland, the United States, and New Zealand, which has committed to raising the aid budget to NZ$550 million in 2011/12, and NZ$600 million in 2012/13, but has not made any commitments past this point.

According to the OECD: “With total ODA equivalent to 0.28% of GNI in 2009, New Zealand ranks 17th among DAC donors for its ODA/GNI ratio, slightly below the (weighted) DAC average of 0.31%, and well below the unweighted average country effort of 0.48% in 2009”.

The Pacific Region and the Millennium Development Goals

Over half of New Zealand’s ODA goes to the Pacific. Approximately 71 percent of the 2011/12 country programme expenditure is allocated to eight countries: Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Vanuatu, Tonga, Cook Islands, Tokelau and Samoa (italicised below). New Zealand also allocates additional funds to Pacific Regional Agencies and other Multilateral Agencies.

After Sub-Saharan Africa, the Pacific region is the most off-track for achieving all of the MDGs by 2015. A 2011 Workshop Report of the Asian Development Bank assessed fifteen Pacific Island countries’ overall progress and found that:

  • Five Pacific Islands were on track to meet 7 or all goals (Cook Islands, Niue, Palau, Samoa and Tonga)
  • Four had mixed progress and were likely to meet 3-6 goals (Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Tokelau)
  • Six were off track and likely to meet, at most, 2 goals (Kiribati, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji and Vanuatu).

Concern that the Pacific region remains off-track to achieve MDGs inspired the Leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum to create the Cairns Compact on Strengthening Development Cooperation in the Pacific in 2009. The key objective of this compact is to drive more effective coordination of available development resources from both Forum island countries and all development partners, with the aim of achieving real progress against the MDGs.

Current status of the Millennium Development Goals

2010 was the two-thirds mark towards the MDG deadline, and was marked by a UN High-level Plenary Meeting on the MDGs in New York in September 2010. Despite the effects of the economic situation currently being felt worldwide, the UN once again reaffirmed its commitment to meet the goals of ODA set out in the MDGs by 2015.

Sources and Further Reading:

New Zealand: Development Assistance Committee (DAC) Peer Review 2010, OECD

United Nations Millennium Development Goals

The Millennium Development Goals in Pacific Island Countries: Taking Stock, Emerging Issues, and the Way Forward, Asian Development Bank, 2011

Aid Allocations 2011/2012, New Zealand Aid Programme, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Jessica Ihimaera-Smiler, Research Services Senior Librarian.

Disclaimer. Every effort has been made to ensure that the content of this briefing paper is accurate, but no guarantee of accuracy can be given.
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