UN move to shun poverty welcome

The adoption of Millennium Sustainable Goals (MSGs) by the UN General Assembly marks a renewed commitment of the world community to ensure that the most basic needs of all citizens of the world are met in a definite timeframe. The MSGs form an agenda to eradicate extreme poverty, child mortality and other afflictions which are still widely prevalent and to spur efforts to slow climate change and improve environment by the year 2030. They replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set in 2000 which represented a global campaign aimed at the developing world. That initiative has had mixed results in the past 15 years.  But, on the positive side, it has reduced poverty and child mortality and improved life expectancy in most parts of the world. The rapid economic growth in China and in some other regions mainly accounted for these gains. But other parts of the world, including India, also achieved many of the MDGs fully or partly.

The MSGs represent a more ambitious blueprint by aiming to eliminate, not just to reduce, extreme poverty and child mortality. There are new goals that include environmental targets that link economic development and health to preserve water resources and habitats, cut waste and check global warming. Some of these are new concerns that have come to the fore in the past 15 years and add to the existing agenda of fighting poverty and providing basic health and education facilities to the most needy and vulnerable people. They comprise 17 goals and 169 targets as against the earlier 15 MDGs. They cover economic, social, environmental and other areas. Apart from ending poverty and hunger, MSGs also aim to improve gender equality, reduce inequality among nations, encourage sustainable consumption and industrialisation, make cities inclusive and resilient, halt biodiversity loss and combat climate change. One important difference is that the new global goals are meant to apply to every country and not just to developing countries.


There is criticism that the goals are too broad and the targets too many, and that a narrower and more specific definition of the goals would have guaranteed better results. But it is also argued that there is no choice, and all these goals have to be achieved in a limited time period for the survival of mankind. There is also no clarity about how and from where the needed funds, which may go up to about $5 trillion a year, will come from. The need for achieving the goals will become more urgent with each passing year and the
world should summon the will to work for them.

 

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