With three years remaining until 2015, the 2012 progress report on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) released earlier this month highlights progress in many important areas including poverty reduction, access to safe drinking water and reduced levels of child mortality.
The 2012 report is the eighth of a series launched in 2005 and provides both comprehensive statistics and clear analysis in order to assess achievements and remaining challenges.
The 2012 progress report outlines gains in poverty reduction and access to safe drinking water, and an improvement in the lives of slums dwellers in urban areas. The report also highlights important gains towards gender parity in primary education, a decline in levels of child mortality, a downward trend of tuberculosis and global malaria deaths and an expansion of treatment for HIV sufferers.
A lot has been achieved however impediments to reaching all the MDGs by 2015 remain. A particular area of concern includes the slow decrease in levels of vulnerable employment, defined as the share of unpaid family workers and own-account workers in total employment. Whilst improvements in maternal health and a reduction in maternal deaths and adolescent childbearing can be seen, decreases are far from the 2015 target.
Lastly, and perhaps most concerning is the fact that hunger remains a global challenge. The most recent UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimate of undernourishment set the mark at 850 million living in hunger in the world in the 2006/08 period; 15.5 per cent of the world population. Additionally, progress has also been slow in reducing child under-nutrition, with close to a third of children in Southern Asia deemed underweight in 2010.