Archive Content

Please note: This page has been archived and its content may no longer be up-to-date. This version of the page will remain live for reference purposes as we work to update the content across our website.

© Edward Parker/WWF

What are the MDGs?

The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are a set of internationally agreed, time-bound and measurable goals and targets for combating poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation and discrimination against women. The MDGs were adopted by the United Nations General Assembly during the Millennium Summit in 2000, as a roadmap to implementing the vision of the eight chapters of the Millennium Declaration, signed in September 2000. Each of the eight goals has specific targets and indicators to measure progress. The overall target date for combating extreme poverty, achieving human develoment and building a global partnership is 2015.

Environmental concerns were not a prominent part of the MDGs. The one general goal on environmental sustainability (MDG7) has few quantifiable targets and doesn't address the complex interconnections between environment and socio-economic sustainable development. In result, the international action in this area has been weak and we are still far from achieving the targets and the overall goal of environmentally sustainable human development.

To ensure that natural environment is better valued and integrated into any future set of goals, WWF has been actively engaged in the processes leading to the adoption of a new development agenda beyond 2015.

Women, subsistence farmers, carrying produce in baskets on their heads. Madagascar. 
© Martin Harvey/WWF

The Millennium Development Goals:

• are time bound, with a target date of 2015

• have measurable goals and quantifiable indicators

• are easy to understand and remember, due to their accessible language and limited number

• address the key areas of human development, including poverty alleviation, health, education, equality and environmental sustainability

• support a strong global partnership for development funding and planning

The 8 MDGs

In 2000, the 191 UN Member States have pledged to meet the following goals and targets by the year 2015:

1.Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

  • Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than one dollar a day
  • Achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people
  • Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger

2. Achieve universal primary education

  • Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling

3. Promote gender equality and empower women

  • Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and in all levels of education no later than 2015

4. Reduce child mortality

  • Reduce by two-thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-five mortality rate

5. Improve maternal health

  • Reduce by three quarters, between 1990 and 2015, the maternal mortality ratio
  • Achieve, by 2015, universal access to reproductive health

6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases

  • Have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS
  • Achieve, by 2010, universal access to treatment for HIV/AIDS for all those who need it
  • Have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases

7. Ensure environmental sustainability

  • Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes and reverse the loss of environmental resources
  • Reduce biodiversity loss, achieving, by 2010, a significant reduction in the rate of loss
  • Halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation
  • By 2020, to have achieved a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers

8. Develop a global partnership for development

  • Develop further an open, rule-based, predictable, non-discriminatory trading and financial system. 
  • Address the special needs of the least developed countries
  • Address the special needs of landlocked developing countries and small island developing States (through the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States and the outcome of the twenty-second special session of the General Assembly)
  • Deal comprehensively with the debt problems of developing countries through national and international measures in order to make debt sustainable in the long term
  • In cooperation with pharmaceutical companies, provide access to affordable essential drugs in developing countries
  • In cooperation with the private sector, make available the benefits of new technologies, especially information and communications

What comes next?

As we near the MDGs' target date of 2015, the world is debating the shape of human development beyond 2015. 
Click here to learn how WWF engages in this global conversation.

The 8 Millennium Development Goals

© UN

 Air pollution due to heavy traffic. Bangkok, Thailand. 
© Martin Harvey / WWF
Air pollution due to heavy traffic. Bangkok, Thailand.
© Martin Harvey / WWF