The UN's annual Millennium Development Goals Report outlines the progress made since 189 countries signed up to a set of far-reaching goals aimed at eradicating a major portion of hunger, poverty, disease and illiteracy by 2015. The goals are that by 2015 the extent of extreme poverty and hunger amongst the world's poor will be halved; children everywhere will be able to complete a full course in primary education; gender disparity in education will be eliminated; a two-thirds reduction in the under-five mortality rate; reducing by three-quarters the maternal mortality rate; reversing the spread of HIV/AIDs; integrating the principles of sustainable development into national policies and reversing the loss of environmental resources; and to develop a global partnership for development.
The report warns that, despite many successes, overall progress has been too slow for most of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The report suggests that higher food prices in 2008 have reversed the nearly two-decade trend in reducing hunger. In addition, momentum to reduce overall poverty in the developing world is slowing; tens of millions of people have been pushed into joblessness and greater vulnerability; and some countries stand to miss their poverty reduction goals. Further, the target for eliminating gender disparities in primary and secondary education by 2005 has already been missed. Major gains in the fight against extreme poverty are likely to stall, indicators show, although data are not yet available to reveal the full impact of the recent economic downturn. In 2009, an estimated 55 million to 90 million more people will be living in extreme poverty than anticipated before the crisis.