To celebrate United Nations Day & World Development Information Day, we’ve decided to take a look at one of the most important aspects of development the UN has implemented to date: The Millennium Development Goals. These goals, drawn up and adopted in 2000, created a blueprint for global development, agreed upon by all the world’s countries and all the world’s leading development institutions - its ultimate goal is to create a prosperous and fully developed planet for all mankind.
There are 8 Millennium Development Goals or MDG’s:
1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
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. Global partnership and development
Why are the MDG’s important? Well, they are the international community's most ‘broadly shared, comprehensive and focused framework for reducing poverty’. A co-coordinated set of quantitative goals that the wider international community recognises and includes specific poverty reduction targets by the year 2015.
For example, if the MDG’s are achieved, an estimated 500 million people will be lifted out of extreme poverty, with a further 300 million no longer suffering from hunger. There will be dramatic progress in children’s health and rather than die before reaching their fifth birthday, approximately 30 million children will be saved, along with the lives of more than 2 million mothers. Additionally, achieving these Goals will result in safer drinking water for a further 350 million people and 650 million more people will have access to basic sanitation. This allows them to lead healthier and more dignified lives. Education will become more widespread, with hundreds of millions more women and girls attending school. They will also have access to increased economic and political opportunities, coupled with greater security and overall safety.
However, recent evidence has emerged that the targets set out in 2000 may not be achieved in accordance with the original schedule. Major causes include governance failures, poverty traps, lack of resources, civil society issues and the lack of support from the private sector. There are some regions that are reaching these targets. In sub-Saharan Africa, many nations are demonstrating that rapid and large-scale progress is possible when “Government leadership, policies and strategies for scaling up public investments are combined with financial and technical support from the international community”. Malawi, for example, has raised agricultural productivity; primary school enrolment has gone up in Ghana; Senegal is on track to meet the MDG target on water and sanitation; and Zambia has improved access to basic rural health services. We’ve even seen examples of increased women’s empowerment emerge from our own business partnerships!
Unfortunately, many other regions are struggling to meet the MDG’s, including large parts of Asia, who struggle with health, poverty and environmental sustainability. This is where we believe the private sector and businesses can play a major role. The increase in Fairtrade and ethical movements shows that each individual can make a significant difference in the fight against poverty, simply by changing purchasing decisions. If companies adopt a fairer ethos towards doing business with third world suppliers, the benefits are endless.
Here at The Ethical Silk Company, we believe in doing our bit to further the MDG’s. That’s why we support two great charities in Focus Ireland and the Jeevan Jyothi HIV/AIDS centre, combating homelessness, poverty and the spread of HIV/AIDS respectively. Additionally, we partner with Eternal Creation, a Fairtrade certified tailoring company operating in the Himalayas. They provide safe working conditions for employees, pay them fairly and are a shining example of ethical business practice. Together, we can exterminate poverty around the globe by taking positive business actions and choosing more ethical consumer purchases!