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

June 1
US Announced Withdrawal from Paris Climate Agreement (2017)
June 2
Edwin Way Teale, Nature Writer, Born (1899)
June 2
Rodne Galicha, Philippine Environmentalist, Born (1979)
June 3
The World’s First Wilderness Area Established (1924)
June 4
Gaylord Nelson, Politician and Conservationist, Born (1916)
June 5
World Environment Day
June 6
Novarupta Volcano Erupted in Alaska (1912)
June 7
Thomas Malthus Published His Famous Essay (1798)
June 8
Bryce Canyon National Park Created (1923)
June 9
Coral Triangle Day
June 10
E. O. Wilson, Father of Biodiversity, Born (1929)
June 11
Jacques Cousteau, Ocean Explorer, Born (1910)
June 12
Frank Chapman, Creator of the Christmas Bird Count, Born (1864)
June 13
Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General, Born (1944)
June 14
Bramble Cay Melomys Went Extinct (2016)
June 15
Global Wind Day
June 16
Gray Whale Delisted (1994)
June 17
World Day to Combat Desertification
June 18
Alexander Wetmore, Ornithologist and Smithsonian Leader, Born (1866)
June 19
Feast of the Forest, Palawan, Philippines
June 20
Great Barrier Reef Protected (1975)
June 21
World Hydrography Day
June 22
Cuyahoga River Burst into Flames (1969)
June 23
Antarctic Treaty Implemented (1961)
June 24
David McTaggart, Greenpeace Leader, Born (1932)
June 25
David Douglas, Pioneering Botanist, Born (1799)
June 26
United Nations Chartered (1945)
June 27
Tajik National Park Added to World Heritage List (2013)
June 28
Mark Shand, Asian Elephant Conservationist, Born (1951)
June 29
Mesa Verde National Park Created (1906)
June 30
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Created (1940)
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