UN Millennium Declaration ratified (2000)

On September 8, 2000, more than 150 leaders of nations endorsed the United Nations Millennium Declaration.  The declaration committed the countries of the world to pursue a set of specific goals and quantitative targets to improve the quality of life for people throughout the world.

The new millennium spawned many analyses and strategies to address the future—what better time than when the calendar turned over to the next thousand years.  The United Nations General Assembly took up the challenge, convening a conference at UN Headquarters in Manhattan, New York, during September 6-8, 2000.   At the conclusion of the conference, the collected heads of state ratified their commitment in the “United Nations Millennium Declaration” (learn more about the Un’s role in conservation here).

The Millennium Declaration, in 30 numbered sections, set out commitments for the future.  In its values and principles section, the declaration stated (paragraph 2) that the world’s leaders had a bigger role:  “We recognize that, in addition to our separate responsibilities to our individual societies, we have a collective responsibility to uphold the principles of human dignity, equality and equity at the global level. As leaders we have a duty therefore to all the world’s people, especially the most vulnerable and, in particular, the children of the world, to whom the future belongs.”

The body of the Millennium Declaration was translated almost immediately into a series of 8 specific goals and 21 quantitative targets—the Millennium Development Goals—that guided development aid and activities for the next 15 years, through 2015.  The goals dealt primarily with poverty, education, nutrition and health, but goal 7 specifically addressed ensuring “environmental sustainability.”  In truth, however, the entire Millennium Declaration and all goals support an essential tenet of conservation and sustainability, as reflected by Indira Gandhi when she said that “poverty is the worst form of pollution.”  Unless people are assured of a sufficiently high quality of life to provide for basic nutrition and security, they will not work toward higher goals of conserving biological diversity or protecting natural ecosystems and processes.

The eight Millennium Development Goals ratified at the 1999 Millennium Summit (photo by United Nations)

The Millennium Development Goals, which operated until 2015, have been declared the most successful aid program in history.  The success is often credited to the existence of specific quantitative targets and their continuous and transparent monitoring.  Some notable successes include:

  • Number of people living in extreme poverty was halved.
  • Proportion of undernourished people in developing regions was nearly halved.
  • Primary school enrollment exceeded 90%, including huge gains in girls in school.
  • Infectious diseases and HIV/AIDS have been reduced substantially.
  • Infant mortality was halved.
  • Maternal mortality was nearly halved.
  • More than 90% of the world’s people now have access to improved water supplies.

In 2015, the Millennium Development Goals were replaced by a new, more ambitious set of “Sustainable Development Goals.” For example, goal 1 commits society to ending poverty, everywhere, permanently.  These new goals place even higher attention to environmental sustainability.  Of the 17 new goals, 6 relate directly to the environment, specifically clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy, responsible consumption and production, climate action, life below water and life on land.

References:

McArthur, John.  2013.  The Declaration of the Millennium Development Goals.  The Brookings Institution, March 6, 2013.  Available at:  https://www.brookings.edu/research/the-declaration-of-the-millennium-development-goals/.  Accessed September 7, 2017.

United Nations.  2000.  United Nations Millennium Declaration.  United Nations General Assembly, Resolution 55/2, September 8, 2000.  Available at:  http://www.un.org/millennium/declaration/ares552e.htm.  Accessed September 7, 2017.

United Nations.  Sustainable Development Goals.  Available at:  http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/.  Accessed September 7, 2017.

United Nations Development Programme.  Millennium Development Goals.  Available at:  http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/sdgoverview/mdg_goals.html.  Accessed September 7, 2017.

This Month in Conservation

February 1
Afobaka Dam and Operation Gwamba (1964)
February 2
Groundhog Day
February 3
George Adamson, African Lion Rehabilitator, Born (1906)
February 4
Congress Overrides President Reagan’s Veto of Clean Water Act (1987)
February 5
National Wildlife Federation Created (1936)
February 6
Colin Murdoch, Inventor of the Tranquilizer Gun, Born (1929)
February 7
Karl August Mobius, Ecology Pioneer, Born (1825)
February 8
President Johnson Addresses Congress about Conservation (1965)
February 8
Lisa Perez Jackson, Environmental Leader, Born (1982)
February 9
U.S. Fish Commission Created (1871)
February 10
Frances Moore Lappe, author of Diet for a Small Planet, born (1944)
February 11
International Day of Women and Girls in Science
February 12
Judge Boldt Affirms Native American Fishing Rights (1974)
February 13
Thomas Malthus Born (1766)
February 14
Nature’s Faithful Lovers
February 15
Complete Human Genome Published (2001)
February 16
Kyoto Protocol, Controlling Greenhouse-Gas Emissions, Begins (2005)
February 16
Alvaro Uglade, Father of Costa Rica’s National Parks, Born (1946)
February 17
Sombath Somphone, Laotian Environmentalist, Born (1952)
February 17
R. A. Fischer, Statistician, Born (1890)
February 18
Julia Butterfly Hill, Tree-Sitter, Born (1974)
February 18
World Pangolin Day
February 19
Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial Established (1962)
February 20
Ansel Adams, Nature Photographer, Born (1902)
February 21
Carolina Parakeet Goes Extinct (1918)
February 22
Nile Day
February 23
Italy’s Largest Inland Oil Spill (2010)
February 24
Joseph Banks, British Botanist, Born (1743)
February 25
First Federal Timber Act Passed (1799)
February 26
Four National Parks Established (1917-1929)
February 27
International Polar Bear Day
February 28
Watson and Crick Discover The Double Helix (1953)
February 29
Nature’s Famous Leapers
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