The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were a set of eight goals that addresses prevailing worldwide issues from all perspectives and sets a time limit of fifteen years for all nations to obligate to it. It was the first treaty of its kind that promotes such ambitious and wide-ranged targets that had goals dealing with issues ranging from gender-equality and poverty to environmental sustainability. It was signed by all nations around the world in 2000 and placed under the monitor of UN Development Program (UNDP); and expires in 2015. The SDGs, or Sustainable Development Goals, will become the successor of MDGs, and its development would address the issues of its predecessor and improve it.

The three-day summit beginning on the twenty-fifth of September hosted 193 country delegations and 150 world leaders[4] in the UN headquarters in New York to ratify the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that would serve as a guide for nations-alike in fulfilling the aim what the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon called it “leave no one behind and create a world of dignity for all.”

Fifteen years after the unprecedented MDG conference that strives for worldwide eradication of various prevailing international issues, the world had seen much changes and improvements. The global poverty rate had dropped from 1.9 billion in 1990 to 836 million in 2015, a 33 percent drop. In less than 15 years, the primary education enrollment population had increase to 91%, up from 83%, and the amount of out-of-school children dropped from 100 million to 57 million within the same time interval from 2000-2015[3]. Females were empowered significantly with the increase of girl to boy ratio in schools and also represented a substantial amount of parliamentary seats in almost every nation. Infectious diseases (those that are found mostly in less-economic developed nations) and mortality rates of women and newborns had decreased dramatically with the introduction of advanced medical technology and the exponential growth in the involvement of non-governmental organizations all over the world. The ozone layer is expected to recover by 2050, statically, due to the eradication of ozone-depleting substances. Worldwide, more than 2.6 billion people had access to sanitation and the technology, and urban slum areas had decreased by 10%. Worldwide support for developing and underdeveloped countries had increased by over 66%[1], and many developed countries continued to divert exceeding amount of their national GDP to monetary funds than asked.

Target Then Now
Poverty: halve the proportion of people living in extreme poverty 1990




Hunger: halve the proportion of hungry people 1990




Education: ensure all children can complete primary school 1990




Gender equality: end gender disparities in schools* 1990




Child mortality: cut under-5 mortality rate (per 1,000 live births) by two thirds 1990




Maternal mortality: cut maternal mortality rate (per 100,000 live births) by three quarters 1990




HIV and Aids: halt and begin to reverse the spread of HIV and Aids ** 2001




Water: halve the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water 1990




Sanitation: halve the proportion of people without access to basic sanitation 1990




* Gender parity index (ratio of girls to boys)

** Incidence of new cases (per 100 people)

(Source: The Guardian[5])


Yet the improvements of living standards, health, mortality rates, environment, and global economic development did only so much to scratch the surface of the real problem. Millions of people are being neglected because of their ethnicity, background, gender, and race; and this is not only a problem in underdeveloped or developing countries. Critics argued that the MDGs promoted big ideas, yet broken promises[5]; many parts of the world are still in need of necessary help from the international community.

Although it seemed like developed nations such as the US or Britain do not have problems in empowerment of gender, it is not that simple; laws do guarantee equal rights, but society, especially that of profession such as engineering or doctor, still had psychological discrimination on their female counterparts, denying them of a raise or works that were traditionally men-dominated. Eradication of poverty, many know, was not as successful as the UN statistics proved. Slums still remain large in size on the outskirts of major cities in most developing nations; and the protection and empowerment of these residents still is a problematic and complicated matter. Gaps between the rich and the poor had decreased dramatically since the last century, but yet the differences still proved to be very shocking, as a child could be starving to death just miles from a grand feast. As the population grew from 6.2 billion to over 7.3 billion in 2015[6], the number of technological appliances, private transports, infrastructure, and related pollution-emitting necessities grew along with the population; so were the issues of greenhouse effect and pollution. Over and illegal fishing proved very hard to regulate in the vast international waters of Pacific and Atlantic. Natural reserves of wildlife and habitat continue to wither everyday due to release of harmful wastes into oceans, illegal hunting, and deforestation. Unfortunately, the damages that were mentioned previously could not be compared to the sheer toll of devastation brought by national conflicts, genocide, civil war, and international terrorism. It had displaced over 60 million people, largest ever recorded since WWII, with the number equivalent to the population of a nation that is the 24th largest in the world[1]. These people seek shelter in nearby countries, but many of them were denied access to do so. The ones that actually were settled in refugee camps lived in harsh conditions, discriminated by the inhabitants because of the social and employment problems they inherited, placed a burden on the national government’s budget. Critics who thoroughly investigated the severity of this issue would have little belief in the success SDGs set for the next one and a half decade.

The UN had learned that data – precise, accurate, and truthful data – are essential to the eventual success of sustainability: “only counting the uncounted can we reach the unreached”[1]. The SDGs, along with minimizing such important issue, are different to the previous MDGs in a few different aspects. First, it had an addition of nine more goals, a total of seventeen, which targets each and every issue explicitly, as compared to the rather vague MDGs. Second, most of the topics are about sustainability and how humans can continue to advance and innovate in different areas while preserving the its predecessor and the environment. Third, the issues of poverty, hunger and malnutrition, universal primary and secondary education, gender equality, access to water and sanitation, and providing of affordable, reliable, and modern energy services were set to be eradicated entirely to provide a better place for all affected personal[2]. To access the exact terms and its sub-goals of the SDGs, please visit the following UN official link: <>

For every success there are failures. The world and its leaders are now engaged in the ratification of the upcoming Sustainable Development Goals, and many share the same optimism that the world would become a better place with the implementation of such goals. There will always be problems lying ahead of the international community that would remain unsolved due to its underlying circumstances, and it will and always be the duty of all generations to continue to minimize the impact these problems brought to our society, and creating an ever-improving world for future generations.

1. “The Millennium Development Goals Report 2015”. United Nations Millennium Development Goals. United Nations, 2015. PDF. 25 September 2015.
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2. “Sustainable Development Goals”. United Nations Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform. United Nations, 2015. Web. 25 September 2015.
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3. “ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – What Has the EU Achieved?” European Commission Press Release Database. European Commission, 28 July 2015. Web. 25 September 2015.
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4. “The World’s Nations Gather at the UN’s Development Summit to Adopt the Sustainable Development Goals.” The World Weekly. The Guardian, 25 September 2015. Web. 25 September 2015.
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5. Harris, Rich and Provost, Claire. “Millennium Development Goals: Big Ideas, Broken Promise?” The Guardian Global Development. The Guardian, 24 September 2013. Web. 25 September 2015.
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6. Roser, Max. “World Population Growth”. Our World in Data., 2015. Web. 25 September 2015.
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 Post by Alex, Yong-Qi Gao – 2015.10.01