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History of the MDGs

“The central challenge we face today is to ensure that globalization becomes a positive force for all the world’s people” - United Nations Millennium Declaration, September 8, 2000

Origins of the MDGs

In 2000, the leaders of the world made a historic commitment: to eradicate extreme poverty and improve the health and welfare of the world's poorest people within 15 years. The commitment, adopted at the Millennium Summit in September 2000, was set forth in the United Nations Millennium Declaration . This vision was expressed in eight time-bound goals, known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Monterrey Consensus

These goals and the commitments of countries to achieve them, were affirmed in the Monterrey Consensus that emerged from the United Nations Financing for Development Conference, in March 2002, World Summit on Sustainable Development in September 2002 and the launch of the Doha Round on International Trade . This commitment forms the basis for the Millennium Development Compact, calling all stakeholders to orient their efforts towards ensuring the success of the goals within a framework of shared responsibilities.

Millennium Project

In 2002, the UN Secretary-General commissioned an independent advisory body, the Millennium Project, to develop a concrete action plan for the world to reverse the poverty, hunger and disease, affecting billions of people. Its final recommendations, Investing in Development: A Practical Plan to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals were presented to the Secretary-General in January 2005.

MDGs at the World Summit

In September 2005 at the UN World Summit in New York, more than 170 Heads of State and Government met to renew their commitment to the Millennium Development Goals and agreed to take action on a range of global challenges. The principal outcome of this event was the reiteration of the strong and unambiguous commitment by all governments, to achieve the MDGs by 2015. The countries also expressed their agreement to provide immediate support for impact initiatives to support anti-malaria efforts, education, and healthcare, particularly through innovative sources of financing for development.  Some of the challenges addressed include:

  • Strong and unambiguous commitment by all governments, in donor and developing nations alike, to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
  • Additional $50 billion a year by 2010 for fighting poverty.
  • Commitment by all developing countries to adopt national plans for achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2006.
  • Agreement to provide immediate support for quick impact initiatives to support anti-malaria efforts, education, and healthcare.
  • Commitment to innovative sources of financing for development, including efforts by groups of countries to implement an International Finance Facility and other initiatives to finance development projects, in particular in the health sector.
  • Agreement to consider additional measures to ensure long-term debt sustainability through increased grant based financing, cancellation of 100% of the official multilateral and bilateral debt of heavily indebted poor countries (HIPCs). Where appropriate, to consider significant debt relief or restructuring for low and middle income developing countries with unsustainable debt burdens that are not part of the HIPC initiative.
  • Commitment to trade liberalization and expeditious work towards implementing the development dimensions of the Doha work program.
  • "We reaffirm our support for the mandates and commitments undertaken at...the Millennium Summit of the United Nations (New York, 2000)...and the High-level Plenary Meeting of the Sixtieth Session of the United Nations General Assembly (New York,  2005) as a fundamental condition for the sustainable development of our countries" – Fourth Summit of the Americas, Declaration of mar del Plata, November 2005

High-Level Forum in Paris

The third High-Level Forum on the Health MDGs, was held in Paris, France on the 14th-15th of November of 2005. The major topics discussed were: financial sustainability and fiscal space, global health partnerships and aid effectiveness, and health in fragile states. The aim of the High-Level Forum (HLF) on the Health Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) was to provide an opportunity for candid dialogue between senior policy makers and to identify opportunities for accelerating action on the health-related MDGs.

World Trade Organization Commitment

In Lima, Peru, on January 31st, 2006, the World Trade Organization 's Director-General Pascal Lamy stated in relation to the results of the WTO Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong that current negotiations must integrate the issues and concerns of developing countries “in every stage”. Developing countries also have the “opportunity to adopt and lock in reforms which underpin economic growth and development,” The MDGs have brought investment in people's health to the forefront of the global development agenda. They highlight the centrality of health as a tool to assist humanity with poverty and despair. This opens new opportunities for health organizations to gain wider support in their quest to improve health and play a key role in eliminating poverty and hunger.