Critical Analysis of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)

15 Pages Posted: 19 Apr 2017

Date Written: April 19, 2017


The global mobilization behind the Millennium Development Goals has produced the most successful anti-poverty movement in history. The landmark commitment entered into by world leaders in the year 2000 to ‘spare no effort to free our fellow men, women and children from the abject and dehumanizing conditions of extreme poverty’ was translated into an inspiring framework of eight goals and, then, into wide-ranging practical steps that have enabled people across the world to improve their lives and their future prospects. The MDGs helped to lift more than one billion people out of extreme poverty, to make inroads against hunger, to enable more girls to attend school than ever before and to protect our planet. They generated new and innovative partnerships, galvanized public opinion and showed the immense value of setting ambitious goals. By putting people and their immediate needs at the forefront, the MDGs reshaped decision-making in developed and developing countries alike. Yet for all the remarkable gains, inequalities persist and that progress has been uneven. The world’s poor remain overwhelmingly concentrated in some parts of the world. In 2011, nearly 60 per cent of the world’s one billion extremely poor people lived in just five countries. Too many women continue to die during pregnancy or from childbirth-related complications. Progress tends to bypass women and those who are lowest on the economic ladder or are disadvantaged because of their age, disability or ethnicity. Disparities between rural and urban areas remain pronounced. Experiences and evidence from the efforts to achieve the MDGs demonstrate that we know what to do. But further progress will require an unswerving political will, and collective, long-term effort. There is a need to tackle root causes and do more to integrate the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. The emerging post-2015 development agenda, including the set of Sustainable Development Goals, strives to reflect these lessons, build on successes and put all countries, together, firmly on track towards a more prosperous, sustainable and equitable world. Reflecting on the MDGs and looking ahead to the next fifteen years, there is no question that we can deliver on our shared responsibility to put an end to poverty, leave no one behind and create a world of dignity for all. This paper is an attempt to develop some limitations of and the MDGs. These include the limitations in the MDG development process, the limitations in the MDG structure, the limitations in the MDG content, the limitations in the MDG implementation and enforcement.

Keywords: MDGs, Poverty, Development, UN

Suggested Citation

Guibou, Valerie Nadege, Critical Analysis of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) (April 19, 2017). Available at SSRN: or

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