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UN Millennium Project: Helping Combat Poverty

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un millennium project

The UN Millennium Project had a monumental task - devise a plan that developing countries could implement to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals. The recommendations it produced have been integrated into national development strategies throughout the world and, as a result, great progress has been made in lifting millions of people out of extreme poverty. Let’s take a further look at what the project consisted of, what it achieved and what comes next.

What was the UN Millennium Project?

The UN Millennium Project was a research project tasked with developing a practical plan to realise the UN Millennium Development Goals by the 2015 deadline.

The project was commissioned in 2002 by the UN secretary-general Kofi Annan and the Administrator of the United Nations Development Project Mark Malloch Brown. Led by Professor Jeffery Sachs, it consisted of ten task forces, each of which focused on a different development theme, such as hunger, gender equality, economics or environmental sustainability.

Each task force was made up of between 15 to 20 members, ranging from scientists, researchers, policy makers, and employees from the UN, the World Bank, IMF and the private sector. All involved were experts in their respective fields, bringing world class knowledge and ideas to the project.

In January 2005, after three years of work and collaboration, the UN Millennium Project research was presented to the secretary-general in a comprehensive report titled ‘Investing in Development: A Practical Plan to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals.’ The report set out a detailed action plan for countries to implement in order to achieve the UN’s development goals.

Following the presentation of the final report, the secretary-general’s team worked to support the implementation of the recommendations in developing countries across the world. Working in an advisory capacity, they helped governments prepare national development strategies that aligned with the eightvgoals.

‘Investing in Development’: the UN Millennium Project report

The UN Millennium Project report - ‘Investing in Development: A Practical Plan to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals’ - outlined operational, organisational and financial recommendations that would help even the poorest countries get closer to realising the UN Millennium Development Goals in the given time frame.

The report listed both ‘quick wins’ that required urgent action, as well as strategies geared towards sustainable development in the medium to long term.

As the name suggests, it was designed to be a practical plan for use in national development strategies throughout the world.

Millennium Village Project

Following the UN Millennium Project, the Millennium Village Project was set up to show that the project’s practical plan and recommendations work.

The project saw scientists and experts across a range of different fields (health and nutrition, energy, environmental sustainability, agriculture etc.), work with local communities and local governments in some of Africa’s most impoverished villages to implement the UN Millennium Project recommendations and, by consequence, help these villages out of extreme poverty.

Running for a total of ten years, the project was split into two phases: phase one from 2005-2010 and phase two from 2010-2015. Phase one was focused on developing and initiating programmes in five areas, while the second phase was simply to strengthen and complete these programmes. These five areas were:

  1. Agriculture - e.g. crop diversification, advanced farmer training
  2. Education - e.g. building primary schools
  3. Health - e.g. improving vaccine supply
  4. Business development - e.g. training in cooperatives
  5. Infrastructure - e.g. improving sanitation

A further aim of the project was to scale-up the mechanisms used in the villages to work on a national level, promoting community-based programmes and intervention as a way to reduce poverty on a national scale and reach the UN’s development goals.

What are the UN Millennium Development Goals?

The UN Millennium Development Goals are eight targets designed to address the problem of extreme poverty in the developing world.

In September 2000, word leaders from 189 countries came together to adopt the United Nations Millennium Declaration. This formed a new global partnership of nations committed to reducing poverty by 2015 through achieving eight quantifiable targets, now known as the Millennium Development Goals. These goals are as follows:

  1. Eradicate extreme hunger and poverty
  2. Achieve universal primary education
  3. Promote gender equality and empower women
  4. Reduce child mortality
  5. Improve maternal health
  6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
  7. Ensure environmental sustainability
  8. Develop a global partnership for development

Thanks to the UN Millennium Project research, remarkable progress was made in reaching these goals by the 2015 deadline. From 1990 to 2015, the number of people living in extreme poverty halved; two-thirds of developing countries achieved gender equality in primary education; child mortality under the age of 5 declined by more than half; and 2.1 billion people across the globe gained access to better sanitary conditions.

What comes next?

Despite all the amazing progress that’s been achieved, all eight UN Millennium Development Goals have not been reached - there is still work to be done to ensure that no one is living in extreme poverty.

Taking over from the UN Millennium Project, the UN has set up a new platform called The World We Want. This is an online platform where people from all over the world (not just experts) can share their thoughts and ideas and help to build a new global development plan post-2015.

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