In September 2000, leaders of 189 countries gathered at the United Nations headquarters and signed the historic Millennium Declaration, in which they committed to achieving a set of eight measurable goals. The goals ranged from halving extreme poverty and hunger to promoting gender equality and reducing maternal and child mortality, by the target date of 2015. The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) failed to consider the root causes of poverty and overlooked gender inequality as well as the holistic nature of development. The goals made no mention of human rights and did not specifically address economic development.
Commenting on the effect of the MDGs, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, said “the MDGs helped to lift more than 1 billion people out of extreme poverty, to make inroads against hunger, to enable more girls to attend school than ever before and to protect our planet.” But the progress, the Secretary General acknowledged, has been uneven — a problem the upcoming Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) seek to address.