In the year 2000, government leaders from 189 countries, including the Netherlands, agreed that the world's major issues would be addressed before 2015. These agreements are the millennium goals. This means that before 2015, goals including clean water for all, basic education for all children, cutting extreme poverty in half, stopping the spread of AIDS and reducing deaths during pregnancy are to be achieved.
The first seven goals focus in particular on what is to be improved in developing countries. The eighth goal addresses what developed countries need to do: create a fair trade system, reduce the debts of developing countries, and give access to affordable, necessary medicines. Each year the progress being made is measured and reported internationally. This makes it possible to increase the pressure on rich and poor countries to increase their efforts.
The topics of the millennium goals are not new. What is new is that for the first time an international agreement has been established with quantitative, concrete goals, tied to a time schedule. Both developing countries and donor countries have agreed to these goals.
1. The number of people living in extreme poverty must be reduced by at least half in 2015 as compared to 1990.
2. In 2015, all children in every country must receive basic education.
3. Stimulate equal opportunities for women. For example: as many girls as boys will attend school in 2005.
4. The number of children who die in developing countries prior to their fifth birthday is to be reduced by two thirds in 2015 as compared to 1990.
5. The number of women who die giving birth is to be reduced by three quarters before 2015 as compared to 1990.
6. Before 2015, the spread of HIV/AIDS, malaria and other serious illnesses is to be stopped and reduced.
7. The number of people without access to safe drinking water is to be reduced by half in 2015 as compared to 1990. Moreover, the living conditions of at least one hundred million inhabitants of slums is to be improved in 2020. Governments will devote durable effort to the protection of the environment.
8. A global cooperative for development will be established, with agreements regarding proper administration, fair and just trade, stimulating youth employment, a solution for the debt issue, and the transfer of new technologies.
The Netherlands believes that it is important to achieve results in development cooperation, and devotes special effort to the millennium goals. The country regularly reports on the efforts of the Dutch government: are more children attending school thanks to Dutch support? Do more people have safe drinking water? Minister Van Ardenne of Development Cooperation also believes that agreements must be established regarding access to contraceptives and regarding pregnancy and prenatal health care. Only then will it be possible to achieve the millennium goals regarding the deaths of mothers and children, gender equality and the battle against HIV/AIDS by 2015. Van Ardenne said this in her opening speech of the international ABCDE conference for development economists on 23 and 24 May 2005 in Amsterdam. The minister wants government leaders meeting in September at the UN summit in New York, where the tentative balance sheet on the Millennium Development Goals will be compiled, to make additional agreements about these issues. Only when women can decide for themselves on matters involving childbearing will it be possible to effectively combat worldwide poverty.
This spring NCDO launched a campaign to better publicise the millennium goals.