World leaders met in the United Nations in New York on 20-22 September 2010 reviewed progress made towards achieving key global development targets in fighting poverty, reducing hunger and disease, fighting social exclusion, providing universal education, health, drinking water and a healthy environment. Covering eight major areas, the Millennium Development Goals were agreed by the leaders of all UN member states at the Millennium summit in 2000 with a target date of 2015. They continue to be the most broadly supported, comprehensive and specific development goals the world has ever established.
With five years left to go and many countries grappling with economic downturns and facing the multiple – food, climate change and financial – crises, the summit was a critical opportunity for the international community to agree on an action agenda of what needed to be done to meet the MDGs. In this the European institutions had a crucial role.
EU announces 1 Billion Euro initiative to make progress on MDGs
As UNDP Administrator Helen Clark addressing European Parliamentarians prior to the MDG summit pointed out that given the huge contribution of the European Union and its member states to development cooperation, the combined EU stance at the summit would have a significant bearing on its outcome.
The UN’s team in Brussels has been focusing its partnership work with the European institutions to maintain Europe’s strong engagement in advancing on the MDG targets.
European Commission President, José Manuel Barroso underscored the significance of that joint work when he noted in his foreword to the 2010 UN-EU Partnership Report, that “the partnership between the EU and the UN is an essential component in our efforts to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)”. *
In his statement to fellow world leaders at the MDG summit, President Barroso made it clear that “the European Union has kept the fight against poverty high on its agenda. European citizens themselves demand this. As the world’s leading donor, accounting for more than 50% of all development aid, the European Union has contributed to the achievement of the MDGs from the beginning.”
During its meeting on 17 June 2010, the Council of the European Union adopted its views in the form of conclusions on the summit and beyond pledging the EU’s firm commitment to achieve the MDGs globally by 2015.
EU and UN officials agree that the MDGs are achievable. Apart from a strengthened political commitment there is also a range of tried and tested policies which can ensure progress with numerous practical examples from the field as testament to this. The most recent reports of the UN team in Brussels showcase a number of these within the context of the UN-EU partnership in action.
* Improving Lives – Results of partnership between the United Nations and the European Union in 2009
I am pleased to note that the Lisbon Treaty embraces the reduction and long-term eradication of poverty as a primary objective of the development cooperation policy of the European Union.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Partnership Report, Foreword
With only five years remaining before the agreed 2015 deadline for reaching the MDGs, there is now an urgent need to strengthen political commitment and take concrete action. I am convinced that with the right policies, strong political commitment, adequate levels and quality of investment and broad international support, the MDGs are achievable.
European Commission President, José Manuel Barroso, Partnership Report, Foreword
MDG Illustration by ABEO
The Millennium Development Goals Report 2012
9 out of 10
Europeans support development aid