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Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) (2000-2015)


"A global climate agreement must be achieved by 2015. I want to announce that at that time, my country is prepared to host the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, because I want us, together, to meet this challenge. At the same time, one of the disappointments of Rio was that we were unable to agree on the establishment of a UN Environment Organization. The creation of this environment agency remains France’s objective. It would be based in Africa, because that continent has been neglected for far too long, it is facing climatic threats, and also because giving Africa this future global environment agency would be wonderfully symbolic."

François Hollande, President of the French Republic
Open debate of the General Assembly of the United Nations, 25 September 2012

France’s position on the post-2015 international development agenda


Defining the post-2015 international development agenda which will replace the Millennium Development Goals in 2015 is a priority for France. This document aims to help define a unique and universal post-2015 agenda that will incorporate the economic, environmental and social aspects of sustainable development.

Defining the post-2015 international development agenda which will replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015 is a priority for France. It’s an enormous challenge that involves defining common objectives that will allow us to guarantee a decent standard of living to what will soon be 9 million individuals on a planet with finite resources undergoing rapid climate change. We must now include the imperative of sustainability in order to succeed in the fight against poverty and vice versa. That’s why combining the processes of defining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and revising the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in a single agenda in 2015 is central to France’s thinking.

France is involved at the highest level in defining this new agenda. Pascal Canfin, Minister Delegate for Development is himself a member of the open-ended working group tasked in June 2012 by the Rio+20 Conference with defining the SDGs. France is also represented on the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing - also provided for by the Rio+20 Conference - by Anthony Requin, Head of the Multilateral Affairs and Development Department of the General Directorate of the Treasury.

This document is the result of consultations with civil society initiated within the framework of the conferences on development and international solidarity. These consultations brought together more than 60 French NGOs and provided an opportunity for in-depth dialogue between civil society and the government.

It aims to help define a unique and universal post-2015 agenda that will incorporate the economic, environmental and social aspects of sustainable development.

- Post-2015 Agenda on development - French position paper prepared with civil society


France sponsors a Global Consultation on Environmental Sustainability


While the Millennium Goals are expiring in 2015, France intensifies its efforts to help fulfilling them, especially in the least developed countries. France also contributes to the international reflection on the next framework for sustainable development (post-2015). The future framework for development has to be defined with all actors concerned and with all development partners. France promotes the widest-ranging consultations possible, which implies the inclusion of the civil society, local authorities and private actors, as well as the people most affected: the most disadvantaged people of all countries. This is why France sponsors the thematic consultation on sustainable development, which is organized by UNDP and UNEP in the framework of the definition of post-2015 priorities. The consultation process, consisting in online discussions on the internet platform worldwewant2015, comprises several phases:

- First phase of online consultation (November 2012 – March 2013): This first phase of consultation consisted in the analysis of 90 documents, collected ahead of the process from a call for written inputs. The discussions focused on the lessons learned from the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), and more specifically on the MDG 7 (related to environment) and the new development challenges that are to be integrated to the post-2015 framework so as to make it more environmental friendly.

- Leadership Meeting (March 18th and 19th 2013): This meeting, that joined together experts and members of the civil society, was held in San Jose on March 18th and 19th in the view to identify the keys issues deriving from the concept of environmental sustainability, and thus to guide the reflection of the international community on the post-2015 development. A hundred eminent personalities from the civil society, the private sector, the United Nations agencies, governments, and international organizations participated. France was represented by Nicolas Hulot, Special Envoy of the President of the Republic for the protection of the planet.

The participation of UNDP Administrator Ms. Helen Clark highlighted the critical importance of the integration of this theme at every level of the post 2015 development framework, as well as that of the convergence of the two ongoing processes, Sustainable Development Goals and Post-2015. The outcomes of the discussions are available here.

- The second phase of online consultation (April 15th – May 29th 2013): This last phase of consultation, spread out over 6 weeks, focuses on the key issues that have emerged from the Leadership Meeting : the interconnectivity between environmental sustainability and other topics such as poverty reduction, equity, human rights, peace and security; the role of the private sector and of education regarding the transformational changes and the adoption of sustainable behaviors; the issues of social empowerment and of the integration of local contexts when translating common universal objectives into concrete actions at the local level.

The report of these consultations is available here: "Breaking Down the Silos: Integrating Environmental Sustainability in the Post-2015 Agenda".

1. Millennium Development Goals Retour à la table des matières

A- Presentation of the MDGs

- The Millennium Declaration (September 2000) sets out eight Millennium Development Goals

— The founding text of the Millennium Development Goals is the Millennium Declaration adopted by world leaders in New York on 8 September 2000, at the opening of the 55th session of the United Nations General Assembly. It sought to build a better and safer world for the 21st century, a more peaceful and prosperous world and a world united through the common values of freedom, equality, solidarity, tolerance, respect for nature and shared responsibility.

— Eight Millennium Development Goals were then unanimously adopted by the international community. The 191 States that were members of the United Nations at the time pledged to achieve the following goals by 2015:

— 1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
— 2. Achieve universal primary education
— 3. Promote gender equality and empower women
— 4. Reduce child mortality
— 5. Improve maternal health
— 6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
— 7. Ensure environmental sustainability
— 8. Develop a global partnership for development

Each objective has one or more specific targets (with a total of 21), as well as economic, social and environmental indicators, in order to monitor the progress achieved until 2015.

- The Global Summit (September 2005) takes stock of the implementation of the MDGs after five years

The Global MDG Summit held in New York from 14 to 16 September 2005, coinciding with the 60th anniversary of the United Nations, attracted more than 170 Heads of State and Government.

It provided an opportunity to assess the progress made towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals a third of the way through the process (2000-2015). Ten years ahead of the date set for achieving the MDGs the results appeared inconsistent. Progress had been achieved, particularly in the areas of access to drinking water, increased life expectancy and reduced infant mortality. However, major disparities continued to exist. Thus, even though Asia was on the right track, in particular thanks to the countries that are experiencing sustained growth (China, India), most Sub-Saharan African countries were still suffering from insufficient growth and would not be able to achieve the objectives by 2015 without increased support from the international community.

- High-level meeting on achieving the Millennium Development Goals (September 2008)

On 25 September 2008, the United Nations Secretary-General and the President of the General Assembly convened a high-level meeting on achieving the Millennium Development Goals. This high-level meeting provided a forum for international leaders to examine the progress achieved, identify the deficiencies and commit to taking concrete measures and to finding the resources and mechanisms necessary to remedy them.


General Assembly, September 2008 – high-level meeting on achieving the UN MDG - Photo/ Marco Castro


- France promotes a broad vision of development and the fight against poverty which – beyond the MDGs which are indicators as much as objectives – combines economic performance, democratic governance, respect for fundamental human rights, access to basic services (health care, education, energy), development of infrastructure and sustainable environmental management.

France’s commitment to achieving the MDGs is demonstrated in particular through its participation in key initiatives aimed at implementing innovative financing mechanisms.


- Millennium Development Goals Summit, New York, (September 2010)

The General Assembly decided to hold this Summit with the adoption of resolution A/64/184. This decision was in follow-up to the proposal made by the Secretary-General in September 2008, at the high-level meeting on MDGs, to organize such a summit five years before the 2015 deadline.

- The MDGs Summit took place on 20, 21 and 22 September 2010. The summit immediately preceded the opening of the sixty-fifth session of the General Assembly which began on 23 September 2010. It was a crucial step with regard to reviewing progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals and to mobilize energy to accelerate efforts to achieve them in 2015.

During this Summit, it was announced that France, the second largest contributor to the Global Fund to fight against AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, would increase its contribution by 20% (which equals to 1.08 billion euros over the period 2011-2013). The idea of ​​innovative financing for the fight against poverty, for education and for solving major health problems in Africa, particularly in the form of a tax on financial transactions, was also promoted.

- The Secretary-General had announced on 23 June 2010 the composition of an "Advocacy Group" of emnient personalities to galvanize support for the Millennium Development Goals in the run-up to the Summit in September 2010. The group, chaired by Prime Minister of Spain José Luis Zapatero and President of Rwanda Paul Kagame, also includes among others Mr. Philippe Douste-Blazy, former French Minister of Foreign Affairs and Special Adviser to the Secretary General on innovative financing, Michelle Bachelet, former President of Chile, Bill Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, Special Adviser to the Secretary General on the MDGs, Ted Turner, Chairman of Turner Enterprises Inc.

B - The 2015 deadline: how far along are we?

Less than 1000 days before the MDGs deadline, France renews its efforts to achieve them.

We can point to major progress toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

For the first time since poverty trends have been tracked, the number of people living in extreme poverty has declined in all developing regions, including sub-Saharan Africa, where rates are highest. Preliminary estimates show that in 2010, the global poverty rate ($1.25/day) is less than half of what it was in 1990. If these results are confirmed, the first target of the Millennium Development Goals, i.e., the reduction of extreme poverty to half its 1990 levels, will have been achieved globally before 2015.

The world has reached its target of reducing by half the proportion of people without access to drinking water. Between 1990 and 2010, more than two billion people enjoyed access to improved sources of drinking water, such as running water in their homes and protected wells.

The world has achieved parity between girls and boys in primary education. Thanks to national and international efforts, many more children in the world are enrolled in primary school, especially since 2000, and girls are benefiting the most.

Progress on reducing infant mortality is accelerating. Access to treatment for those living with HIV has increased in all regions, but the goal of universal access has not yet been achieved. The world is on the right path to achieving the goal of reducing tuberculosis cases by half and beginning to reverse the progression of the illness. Deaths from malaria have also decreased internationally.

See the table on the progress of UN Objectives (2012).

However, inequalities are hampering progress and slowing advances in other key areas.

Achievements were unequally distributed both internationally nationally. The precarious job situation, for example, has improved only marginally in 20 years. Significant improvements have been made with respect to maternal health and the reduction of maternal mortality, but progress is still slow.

The use of improved water sources remains lower in rural regions than in urban ones. Nearly half the population of developing regions—some 2.5 billion people—lack access to improved sanitary facilities.

Hunger remains a global challenge. The FAO’s most recent estimates on undernourishment report 870 million people—one in eight people of the world’s population—suffering from hunger during 2010-2012.

2. MDGs and the post-2015 development agenda Retour à la table des matières

Less than 1000 days before the 2015 deadline, the UN is beginning to shape the post-2015 development agenda. While substantial progress has been made thanks to the Millennium Goals, sustainability and a multi-dimensional approach to development along economic, social and environmental lines have been lacking, and some goals have not yet been achieved.

A - Challenges

The post-2015 development agenda must take into consideration the weaknesses of the current objectives, which omitted certain themes discussed in the 2000 Millennium Declaration.

The UN Secretary-General asked an inter-agency working group to draft an initial report on the topics to be considered for the Post-2015 Development Framework. This UN Task Team comprises of experts from more than 60 UN agencies and has begun by identifying the strengths and weaknesses of the current MDGs, which will be essential in defining the new agenda.

Changes in the global dynamic have shown that the MDGs did not adequately include such important issues as environmental sustainability, jobs and decent work, inequality and demographic growth. The MDGs, focused on final objectives, did not give much room to the catalyzers of development. In particular, they did not take into account the differences in initial conditions, and lacked clarity with regard to how to tailor the global objectives to national realities and regional dynamics.

On the strength of these realizations, the mission of the UN agencies and all member states is now to create a development agenda that retains the strengths of the MDGs while offsetting their shortcomings, taking into account new global dynamics.

B - Coordinating the MDGs and the results of the Rio+20 Conference

The final declaration of the Rio+20 Conference recognizes the concept of sustainable development goals and initiates a process to define them, so that they may be integrated into the UN’s Post-2015 Development Framework. The characteristics of these goals are:
- universality
- their non-binding, “aspirational” nature
- a link to targets and indicators
- a balanced treatment of the economic, environmental and social components of sustainable development
- their action- and communication-oriented nature, which implies limiting their number.

This process must be coordinated and consistent with the revision of the Millennium Development Goals, so that the Sustainable Development Goals can be integrated into the UN’s post-2015 Development Framework (§ 249 of the Rio+20 Declaration).

Within the United Nations, an open working group in charge of proposing new sustainable development goals for post-2015 has been created as a follow-up to the Rio+20 conference. Mr. Pascal Canfin, French minister for Development, attended its first session on 14th March 2013.

C - What is France’s position?

France is well aware of the challenges facing initial UN discussions on the post-2015 development agenda and very early on became involved in this process, which plays a role in the Secretary-General’s considerations on the post-2015 agenda and will influence development professionals for the next 30 years.

For the post-2015 period, France supports the goal of a unified sustainable-development agenda and universal goals focused on eliminating poverty. France plays a full part in the debates and dialogues related to the agenda that will take over from the MDGs in 2015.

MDGs strengths and the Millenium Declaration have to be kept as a political basis from which the future objectives will be designed.

The new agenda should take into account the needs of the poorest populations and the most vulnerable countries and offer national flexibility for the adoption and implementation of the goals. It should promote a dynamic among different sectors based on the three pillars of sustainable development (economic, social and environmental) and should integrate the themes that were missing from the current objectives to allow for cross-cutting and synergies on this same basis.

To that end, the process for revising the MDGs must fully integrate and be consistent with the conclusions of the Rio+20 conference to avoid creating two parallel agendas. The final text and follow-up of the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development provides a constructive guide for thinking about the post-2015 development agenda, and its vision and framework must be fully aligned with them.

The upcoming development goals should be limited, specific and quantifiable in order to enjoy the same visibility and mobilizing power as the MDGs.

The immediate challenge is to achieve a consensus on the shape of this agenda that adequately identifies the needs of present and future generations and can crystallize these priorities in sustainable development goals that are easy to communicate and will help guide political action that is consistent at the global, regional and national levels.

3. Ongoing processes and upcoming deadlines Retour à la table des matières

A - An inclusive process

To enhance the considerations of the UN Development Group on the post-2015 period, the UNDP developed a consultation process that will enable civil society players, think tanks, young people and the private sector to contribute ideas on the important issues relating to the new development agenda post-2015.

To facilitate this process, the UNPD will organize the following activities:

-  About one hundred national consultations designed to stimulate discussion on the post-2015 development agenda (from July 2012 to January 2013)

- 11 thematic consultations with members of the academic community, the media, the private sector, employers, unions and civil society to discuss key issues relating to the post-2015 development agenda (starting in May 2012). Further information on http://www.worldwewant2015.org/

- An open, interactive exchange among stakeholders to enable citizens of the entire world to express themselves by using social media and new technologies.

Before making the final synthesis expected for summer 2013, the UNDG released in April a mid-term report on the consultations and revealed some of the conclusions that were predictable for the definition of the new development agenda:

- Topics : Consultation participants reaffirmed the relevance of the topics covered by the MDGs and the importance of issues such as education, good governance, security, water, energy, corruption and transparency, violence and human rights, employment and the issue of environmental sustainability. Reducing inequalities has also emerged as a major concern.

The format: the participants called for the development of a universal agenda that would recognize the interconnectedness of populations and governments among different countries, while deploying differentiated targets to take into account different and various levels of development of these countries. The necessity to integrate the three dimensions of sustainable development into the new agenda has also been highlighted.

The means of implementation : As the MDGs had been thought through a too quantitative approach, the participants expressed their wish to elaborate more qualitative and accurate indicators, along disaggregated goals (gender, ethnicity, religion, age, etc..) to better monitor progress and reveal inequalities. The desire to hold governments more accountable and to give emphasis to civil society, not only in defining the post-2015 agenda, but also in its implementation, was also widely expressed.

B - High-level UNSG panel

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed British Prime Minister David Cameron, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf as co-presidents of the High-level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Framework.

This panel includes scientists, academics, representatives of civil society and the private sector—some 30 experts in all, with a good geographical balance. Its key task is to formulate recommendations on the post-2015 development agenda, taking into account the recommendations of the results of the Task Team and global and national consultations.

France applauds the appointment of a French expert to this panel. Jean-Michel Severino’s experience with development is unique on both the practical and conceptual levels. The chairman of Investisseurs et Partenaires conseil (I&P Conseil)and general inspector of finance, he served as development director for the French Cooperation Ministry, as vice president for East Asia at the World Bank, and as director of the French Development Agency (AFD) from 2001 to 2010. He also served on the High-level Panel on UN System-wide Coherence in the Areas of Development, Humanitarian Assistance and the Environment established by former UN secretary general Kofi Annan.

At a meeting in London in the UK, on 31 October to 1 November 2012, the high-level panel focused its discussions individual and household poverty, employment, sources of income and how to take into account the interests of the most vulnerable people. It also reiterated the importance of building on the lessons of the MDGs, to place human development at the heart of the new agenda and to set ambitious goals and differentiated approaches according to the different relevant levels (national, regional, global).

At their meeting in Monrovia in Liberia, on 30 January and 1 February, the members of the panel discussed the issues of growth, economic transformation and development. They made the eradication of poverty a central objective of the new development agenda. They also considered that the needed structural changes will require a more sustainable growth, the creation of wealth through a fairer and transparent management of natural resources as well as the elaboration of partnerships with all the stakeholders.

Members of the High Level Panel met again on 25, 26 and 27 March 2013 in Bali, Indonesia, to discuss the ways of implementing the development agenda post-2015 and debate on the form that the new global partnership could adopt. They reaffirmed the necessity to review the global governance in order to better take into account civil society and other stakeholders to achieve and realize this new global partnership. They also stressed the importance of issues such as environmental protection, the adoption of sustainable consumption habits and sustainable production, the elaboration of a clear strategy of financing development and the availability/quality of data to facilitate decision-making related to development policies.

The high-level panel submitted its report to the Secretary-General on 30 May 2013. He envisioned a universal development agenda whose key objective would be the eradication of poverty and that would be based on five pillars:

— Never leave anyone behind, regardless of race, gender, geography, disability or any other criteria
— Putting sustainable development at the heart of the new agenda and policy development
— Transforming the economy in order to promote job creation and inclusive growth
— Strengthening peace and ensuring good governance by public institutions
— Building a new global partnership gathering all stakeholders in a spirit of inclusion, cooperation, mutual responsibility and solidarity

C. Special event hosted by the General Assembly president (September 2013)

At this event, the UN Secretary-General will take stock of the Millennium Goals, two years before their deadline.

The Secretary-General will also present the member states with his initial thoughts on the post-2015 development agenda, based on the results of the high-level panel, national and global consultations, and the Task Team’s report.

(October 2013)

3. French Statements Retour à la table des matières

- 25 September 2013 - Event on the Millennium Development Goals - Statement by Mr. Pascal Canfin, Minister Delegate for Development, attached to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

- 27 June 2013 - Defining post-2015 framework for sustainable development with people in extreme poverty - Statement by Mr. Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

- 26 November 2012 - Informal discussions on the post-2015 development agenda "Toward a new generation of development goals" - Statement by Mr Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

- 20 September 2010 - General Assembly - MDGs Summit - Speech delivered by M. Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the French Republic

4. Reference documents Retour à la table des matières

- October 2013- Post-2015 Agenda on development - French position paper prepared with civil society

- 15 December 2009 - Resolution A/RES/64/184 - Organization of the High-level Plenary Meeting

- 16 September 2005 - Resolution A/RES/60/1 - World Summit Outcome

- 8 September 2000 - Resolution A/RES/55/2 - United Nations Millennium Declaration

5. Useful links Retour à la table des matières

- Consult the UN website on the September 2010 Summit on the MDGs

- Consult the file on MDGs on the UN website

- Consult the file on MDGs on the UNDP website

- Consult our file on innovative financing

- Consult FAO’s website



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