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Topic 2


The Millennium Development Goals and Beyond

Fast Facts

About one in five people in developing countries still lives on less than US$1.25 (AUD$1.50) a day. The vast majority of these people live in Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

Over the past 20 years, the likelihood of a child dying before age five has been nearly cut in half, which means about 17,000 children are saved every day.


More than one in four children in developing countries is likely to drop out of primary school.



In Depth

The Millennium Development Goals

In 2000, leaders from 189 countries came together at the United Nations (UN) Headquarters and committed their nations to a global partnership to reduce extreme poverty, inequality, hunger and disease.

These targets became known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).With the signing of the Millennium Development Declaration, countries like Australia and development organisations like CARE have worked hard towards achieving the eight goals by 2015.

CARE and the MDGs

CARE’s long-term program approach to sustainable human development actively supports the global agenda set out in the eight MDGs. You can see examples of this across all of our projects – from supporting women to start up small businesses that provide a steady income for them and their families, to our maternal health volunteer nurses who travel to remote areas in Papua New Guinea ensuring women have better access to vital antenatal care.

Since the MDGs were developed, we have made tremendous progress in our efforts to improve lives in many of the world’s poorest communities. The statistics are striking:

  • Between 1990 and 2010, the international community halved the number of people living in extreme poverty.
  • More girls than ever before are now able to attend school.
  • The death rate of children under the age of five has dropped by 47 per cent.
  • Access to clean drinking water became a reality for 2.3 billion people.

Yet many challenges remain in the fight to restore dignity and lift entire communities out of poverty.

  • 57 million children are still unable to attend school.
  • 748 million people still drink unsafe water.
  • 2 billion people remain in extreme poverty.
  • Chronic under-nutrition among young children has declined, but one in four children is still affected.

As the UN looks to confirm goals beyond 2015, there is still much to be done to bring about improvements in the lives of millions.


The post-2015 agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals

This year marks 15 years since the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were first adopted. As the international community looks ahead, the UN, governments and organisations around the world have gathered to discuss future agreements on a new global development framework.

Known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), these targets will soon replace and advance the MDGs. They range from the elimination of poverty to reducing inequality both within and between countries: from better governance, to promoting growth while protecting our environment.

While the MDGs applied to all countries in theory, in reality, they were considered targets for poor countries to achieve, with finance from wealthy states. Unlike the MDGs, the aim is for the SDGs to be universally applied, meaning that all countries will need to consider them as part of their national policies.

A set of 17 goals and 169 targets, the SDGs are categorised according to six themes:

  • Dignity: to end poverty and fight inequality
  • Prosperity: to grow strong, inclusive and transformative economies
  • Justice: to promote safe and peaceful societies and strong institutions
  • Partnership: to catalyse global solidarity for sustainable development
  • Planet: to protect our ecosystems for all societies and our children
  • People: to ensure healthy lives, knowledge, and the inclusion of women and children.

To achieve these targets, sustainable development will mean meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Learn more by reading the case study below and introducing some of the individuals CARE works with to your class.

Ethiopia: ‘My life was dark before, but now there is light’

Fikere’s story is echoed across all corners of the globe. Child marriage affects 14 million girls each year and is, without exception, the biggest challenge to girls’ development. The centuries-old practice perpetuates poverty by cutting short a girl’s education and livelihood opportunities, keeping her poor.

Read More

Teaching This Topic

Teaching Notes

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are universal targets which aim to address extreme poverty. The targets promote education, healthcare, gender equality and environmental sustainability as vital to improving the lives of the world’s poorest people.

This topic can be incorporated into the curriculum of several subjects including Health and Geography. This is suitable for most year levels with your discretion.

Continue reading the next chapter: Women’s Empowerment

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CARE Australia
PO Box 372 Collins Street West
Melbourne VIC 8007

Phone +61 3 9421 5572
Fax +61 3 9421 5593