The UN Summit on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) came to a close on 22nd September 2010 with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon offering his congratulations to the participating Heads of State, saying: “This Summit has laid a solid foundation for the progress we need in our quest to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by the internationally agreed deadline of 2015 … this event has galvanized worldwide attention.” At a time of major crisis threatening economies around the world, significant increases in the numbers of unemployed and several developing nations faced with the aftermath of severe natural disasters, it is evident that the attention of many might be elsewhere.
Therefore, global economic crisis and natural disasters aside, one of the key challenges for the international community in the five years remaining to achieve the MDGs is to demystify the goals themselves for the general public so that everyone can participate in local, national and international debate on the issues and understand what is supposed to be achieved and how that will be done. In addition, it is equally important that the outcomes of the Summit itself and the many side events trickle down to national political levels, in particular the link between achieving national development goals, the elimination of child labour and the promotion of education for all. It is vital that discussions at academic and UN levels are translated into national political will, tangible resources and concrete action to achieve development goals.
The Secretary-General continued in his closing remarks to say: “The Summit outcome document sends a clear sign that you remain committed to the goals even in a difficult international environment … In the past, we have seen that when the spotlights are switched off, world attention quickly moves on to other issues. With only five years left, we cannot let that happen … Between now and 2015, we must make sure that promises made become promises kept. The consequences of doing otherwise are profound: death, illness and despair, needless suffering, lost opportunities for millions upon millions of people. We must hold each other accountable.”