The Guardian understates Millennium pledges

 

and other errors in its reporting of world poverty


Version of 12 November 2015

Matt Berkley

 

Note:  This document should be read in conjunction with the evidence on government commitments at

http://millenniumdeclaration.org/pledges.htm  .



 

 

 

"Specifically, I urge the Summit to adopt the target of reducing by half, between now and 2015, the proportion of people who lack ...safe water."

Kofi Annan, Millennium Report.  27 March 2000.

 

 

"Baseline year – 1990 or 2000?
...In two cases - maternal mortality and under-five mortality - the term "current rates" is used, directly specifying a 2000 baseline. For the remainder, the targets are stated in the form of "to halve by 2015…" This would imply a 2000 baseline year of the Millennium Declaration.."

Guidance Note sent by heads of UNDP, UNICEF, UNFPA, WFP to country offices
United Nations Development Group
Reporting on the Millennium Development Goals at the Country Level
October 2001
http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://undg.org/archive_docs/2356-English.doc

 

 

 

In September 2015 the Guardian reported on hunger, mentioning

"targets agreed on 15 years ago…"

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/24/un-sustainable-development-goals-succeed-poverty

 


The Guardian said the world had

"...just missedthe target of halving the proportion."

But the current UN estimate is 10.9%, while 15 years ago leaders agreed in effect to halve from 15% hungry in 2000.



 

The claim of 5 October 2015 by the Guardian that "current rates" in the Millennium Declaration "would likely" mean 1990 is not sustainable. 

As I had shown the readers' editor, its own report of 2000 contradicted its position in 2015:

"[the Millennium] summit…will almost certainly endorse a UN declaration...
halving within 15 years the 22% of the world's population now existing on less than a dollar a day."

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2000/sep/02/cuba.ewenmacaskill



In fact the Guardian repeated the clear message that the Declaration had a 2000 baseline: 


"Two years ago at the UN millennium summit, world leaders set themselves the task of halving global poverty over the next 15 years"
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2002/aug/22/worldsummit2002.earth4

 

 

A pledge to "halve" something is reasonably taken as meaning to halve from now.

The Guardian idea also flies in the face of other evidence, such as the document the Summit was working from.

The Secretary-General's Millennium Report gives "poverty" numbers for 1996.  

It gives "poverty" estimates for 1998, and specifically urges 2000 baselines for money and water. 

www.un.org/en/events/pastevents/pdfs/We_The_Peoples.pdf 

Further, the 1990 data were less reliable.  So it was not necessarily sensible to backdate the baseline for reliability reasons.

On 6 November 2001 the committee of heads of UN development agencies confirmed that the Declaration text "would imply" a 2000 baseline.  Other evidence points the same way. 

Like other large news organisations, the Guardian reported in 2000 that the Declaration had a 2000 baseline.

 

 

 

 

 

"[the Millennium] summit…will almost certainly endorse a UN declaration...
halving within 15 years the 22% of the world's population now existing on less than a dollar a day."

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2000/sep/02/cuba.ewenmacaskill



"Fifteen years after world leaders gathered in New York to agree an unprecedented global assault on poverty....the final report is in on... (MDGs) they set
[!]...between 1990 and this year, the number of those living in extreme poverty...."

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/jul/07/sustainable-development-goals-will-be-hard-sell-for-united-nations

 

"maternal mortality has dropped by 45% since 1990
...Millennium Development Goal 5…
...the UN targets set in 2000."

What's the best bit of the UN? No 7: UN Population Fund
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/10/best-bit-un-unfpa-united-nations-population-fund

 

 

"...a spokesman for the American team at the UN, said Mr Bolton had simply been restating long-held US opinions. ...The Bolton amendments...expunge all references to the millennium development goals..."

26 August 2005
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2005/aug/26/usa.julianborger

 


A Foreign Office spokesman said ... it was "important that we do not row back from...the UN millennium summit."

August 27, 2005
http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2005/aug/27/uk.usa

 


"In 2000, world leaders set out to halve 1990 [!] extreme poverty and hunger rates by the end of 2015."

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/feb/19/millennium-development-goal-one-poverty-hunger

 

 

"Two years ago at the UN millennium summit, world leaders set themselves the task of halving global poverty over the next 15 years"
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2002/aug/22/worldsummit2002.earth4

 

 

 

"in 2000, the UN made that…pledge…to cut maternal mortality by 75% between 1990 and 2015."
http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2008/may/02/women.gender

 


"One of the UN's eight Millennium Development Goals in 2000 was to reduce the ratio of maternal mortality - the number of mothers who die per 100,000 - recorded over the period 1990-2015 by three quarters."

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2008/sep/28/sierraleone.internationalaidanddevelopment

 



"UN nations agreed to reduce child mortality by two-thirds from its 1990 level by 2015"

Fairer spending could save 4m children by 2020, says report
http://www.theguardian.com/society/2010/sep/06/fairer-spending-could-save-4m-children

 

 

 

"At its inception in 2000, the maternal health goal was also limited to a single target : to reduce the maternal mortality ratio by three-quarters. …
...reducing child mortality...the goal of a reduction by two-thirds. Between 1990 and 2012, the child mortality rate almost halved, meaning that 6 million fewer children died in 2012 than in 1990. ....
Less than one-third of all countries have achieved or are on track to meet the goal"

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/may/27/millennium-development-goals-child-mortality-maternal-health-explainer

 

 

"Let us resolve therefore: - To halve, by the time this century is 15 years old, the proportion of the world’s people (currently 22 per cent) whose income is less than one dollar a day.

- To halve, by the same date, the proportion of people (currently 20 per cent) who are unable to reach, or to afford, safe drinking water."

"Specifically, I urge the Summit to adopt the target of reducing by half, between now and 2015, the proportion of people who lack sustainable access to adequate sources of affordable and safe water."

Secretary-General
Millennium Report
27 March 2000
www.un.org/en/events/pastevents/pdfs/We_The_Peoples.pdf 

 


"The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has worked hard to build international support for the UN Secretary-General's [2000-baseline] proposals for the Millennium Summit."

UK Parliament.  House of Commons, Written Answers for 15 May 2000.  Mr Hain.
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm199900/cmhansrd/vo000515/text/00515w09.htm

 

 

These speeches are in the verbatim records of 6-8 September 2015:

http://www.un.org/ga/55/pvlista55.htm

 

"...the Declaration we are about to adopt at this Summit...
the specificity of the language and the time scales mean that we can and will be held accountable"


Prime Minister of Ireland, 6 September 2000

 

"...Millennium Report serves as an excellent reference for checking whether our homework has been properly done."
Mr Persson, Prime Minister of Sweden



"Secretary-General...the report he presented...sets out clear and precise objectives. Belgium fully supports it. My country commits itself ...to support all actions that can help attain those objectives"

 

"We heartily support the objectives set out to this end in the Secretary-General’s report for the Millennium Summit..."
Spain

 

"The Co-Chairperson (Finland): I now give the floor to the Chairman of the round table held yesterday afternoon...

President Chávez Frías ( spoke in Spanish ): ...round table with heads of State, representatives of Governments of America, Asia, Africa, Europe and Oceania.
 ...we spent about four hours there...
I am going to make a major effort in these first few minutes to reflect the spirit that prevailed...

My colleagues and I agree on one question based on the deliberations we are witnessing here and on the excellent report submitted by the Secretary-General to guide us at this Millennium Summit. How can the goals determined there be met? ...

Let us inform our peoples about what was discussed here, about the conclusions that were drawn in this Summit..."

 

 

.......................................................................

 

"The Clinton Administration strongly supports Secretary General Kofi Annan's call to action on poverty alleviation, on economic and social development"

U.S. Efforts on the Millennium Report "Call To Action" on Poverty and Economic Development Issues
The White House September 7, 2000
http://clinton5.nara.gov/WH/new/html/Wed_Oct_4_132349_2000.html 

  

 

"President Clinton is strongly committed to working…to meet the vision of a sustainable future outlined in the Secretary General's Millennium Report."

The White House September 7, 2000
http://clinton5.nara.gov/WH/new/html/Wed_Oct_4_133235_2000.html

 

 

"in September 2000...Annan...In his report …
The assemblyaccepted his report wholesale."

Mark Malloch Brown
Head of UN Development Programme in 2000
The Unfinished Global Revolution
Penguin Books, 2011

 

 

"His Millennium Report...offers concrete, accomplishable and far-sighted recommendations. Austria welcomes this roadmap for the future course of UN activities and will follow its guidelines." 

Austrian Minister for Foreign Affairs Benita Ferrero-Waldner
http://www.un.org/ga/webcast/statements/austriaE.htm

 

 



"...half, between now and 2015, the proportion of people who lack...safe water and...sanitation ...
This ambitious target...was endorsed at the Millennium Assembly ...in September 2000."

UNITED NATIONS ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL
23 February 2001
ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMISSION FOR ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
Note by the secretariat
daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/NB0/100/09/PDF/NB010009.pdf?OpenElement

 

 

 

"Baseline year – 1990 or 2000?
...In two cases - maternal mortality and under-five mortality - the term "current rates" is used, directly specifying a 2000 baseline. For the remainder, the targets are stated in the form of "to halve by 2015…" This would imply a 2000 baseline year of the Millennium Declaration.."

Guidance Note sent by heads of UNDP, UNICEF, UNFPA, WFP to country offices
United Nations Development Group
Reporting on the Millennium Development Goals at the Country Level
October 2001
http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://undg.org/archive_docs/2356-English.doc

 

 

 

"The General Assembly…
Reaffirming the goal of reducing by half, between 2000 and 2015, the proportion of people who are unable to reach or to afford safe drinking water…"

Resolution 56/192
21 December 2001
http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/56/192
http://www.worldlii.org/int/other/UNGA/2001/301.pdf

 



"resolution 56/192…on 21 December 2001. Reaffirming the Millennium Declaration goal of reducing by half, between 2000 and 2015, the proportion of people who are unable to reach or to afford safe drinking water, the Assembly…"

Global Ministerial Environment Forum
Governing Council of the UN Environmental Programme
Note by the Secretariat
30 January 2002
http://www.unep.org/GC/GCSS-VII/Documents/k0260039.pdf

 

 

 

"1.2 billion people around the World live in extreme poverty. ....
They constitute approximately one fifth of the World population. In the United Nations Millennium Declaration we decided to reduce this share by half in 2015."

Per Stir Møller, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Denmark. 
Statement at the International Conference on Financing for Development Monterrey, Mexico
18th-22th March 2002

 

 

 

"Two years ago at the UN millennium summit, world leaders set themselves the task of halving global poverty over the next 15 years"
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2002/aug/22/worldsummit2002.earth4

 

 


We, the representatives of the peoples of the world…
commit
ourselves to...expeditetargets...
reduce, by 2015, mortality rates for infants and children under 5 by two thirds, and maternal mortality rates by three quarters, of the prevailing rate in 2000 and reduce disparities between and within developed and developing countries as quickly as possible "

World Summit on Sustainable Development
4 September 2002
http://www.un-documents.net/jburgdec.htm
http://www.un.org/esa/sustdev/documents/WSSD_POI_PD/English/WSSD_PlanImpl.pdf

 

 

 

 

In 2013 nations renewed some more ambitious global pledges than the Millennium Development Goals. 

"We, the Heads of State and Government and heads of delegation...
reaffirm our commitment to the Millennium Declaration...
and the outcomes of all the major UN conferences and summits in the economic, social, and environmental fields."

25 September 2013
http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/pdf/Outcome%20documentMDG.pdf

 

The internationally agreed goals include the following.

1996, World Food Summit, Rome Declaration on World Food Security:

"We, the Heads of State and Government, or our representatives, gathered at the World Food Summit…
pledge our political will…
with an immediate view to reducing the number of undernourished people to half their present level no later than 2015."

http://www.fao.org/docrep/003/w3613e/w3613e00.htm



 

 

2000:

"[the Millennium] summit…will almost certainly endorse a UN declaration...
halving within 15 years the 22% of the world's population now existing on less than a dollar a day."

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2000/sep/02/cuba.ewenmacaskill

 

 

"...the Declaration we are about to adopt at this Summit...
broad range of commitments, and the specificity of the language and the time scales mean that we can and will be held accountable"


Prime Minister of Ireland, 6 September 2000

 

 

 

"A main target, set by Mr Annan and agreed to by the summiteers, is to halve by 2015 the 22% of people who live on less than a dollar a day"

Editorial
7 September 2000
http://www.economist.com/node/359559

 



 

"...Millennium Declaration ... endorsed targets... halving by the year 2015 the 22 percent of the world's population now existing on less than a dollar a day."

Reuters
8 September 2000
itnsource.com/en/shotlist/RTV/2000/09/08/009080017/?s=millennium%20summit

 

 

 


"Setting out to halve in fifteen years the number of poor people we now have is an undoubtedly remarkable endeavor..."

Felipe Perez Roque, Cuban Minister of Foreign Affairs, General Debate of the 55th General Assembly
http://www.un.org/ga/webcast/statements/cubaE.htm 
15 September 2000

"Proponernos reducir a la mitad, dentro de quince años, el número de pobres que hoy tenemos, es un empeño sin duda encomiable..."

http://www.un.org/ga/webcast/statements/cubaS.htm

 

 

"the targets set by the Millennium Summit, including the target to halve, by the year 2015, the current proportion of the world's poor people"

Nguyen Dzy Nien, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Vietnam,
General Debate of the 55th Session of the UN General Assembly
13 September 2000
http://www.un.org/ga/webcast/statements/vietnamE.htm

 

 

 

 

"...half, between now and 2015, the proportion of people who lack...safe water and...sanitation ...
This ambitious target...was  endorsed at the Millennium Assembly ...in September 2000."

UNITED NATIONS ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL
23 February 2001
ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMISSION FOR ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
Note by the secretariat
daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/NB0/100/09/PDF/NB010009.pdf?OpenElement

 

 

 

 

"Millennium Development Goals...
The proposed formulation of the 8 goals, 18 targets and 40+ indicators are listed below.  ...
...the normal baseline year for the targets will be 1990..."
"proposed list of goals, targets...listed below...
…between 1990 and 2015…"

[relevant targets mention 1990 except for water target]

Report of the Secretary-General: Implementation of the United Nations Millennium Declaration
6 September 2001
http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/sgreport2001.pdf

 

 

 

 

"Some 2.6 billion people have gained access to improved drinking water since 1990…
"663 million people across the world still do not have access to improved drinking water."

What have the millennium development goals achieved?
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/datablog/2015/jul/06/what-millennium-development-goals-achieved-mdgs

 

 

"OECD
MILLENIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS
(Note by the Secretariat)
17 September 2001

...It was agreed that there should be a standard baseline year of 1990 against which to measure progress (with an exception of using 2000 for the safe water goal"

http://millenniumdeclaration.org/mdgwaterbaseline.pdf .

 

 

 

US Government after the easier 1990-baseline MDGs were proposed:

"Justice demands that global terrorism be silenced so that the Millennium Declaration of the United Nations can be heard."
October 1, 2001
http://2001-2009.state.gov/p/io/rls/rm/2001/5127.htm

 



"Remarks by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell at World Summit on Sustainable Development
September 4, 2002

Here in Johannesburg, we have recommitted ourselves to achieving, by 2015, the development goals set forth in the Millennium Declaration."

http://wfile.ait.org.tw/wf-archive/2002/020904/epf306.htm

 

 

 

"the United Nations General Assembly explicitly mentioned and endorsed the eight MDGs only as late as [September] 2005. Until then it had focused (and still does) on calling for the implementation and monitoring of all goals and measures in the Millennium Declaration..."

Claiming the Millennium Development Goals: A human rights approach
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations
New York and Geneva, 2008
ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/Claiming_MDGs_en.pdf

 

 

 

"(MDGs), of which the authoritative version was contained in an Annex to a ‘Road Map’ produced by the Secretary-General in September 2001...the Annex to the ‘Road Map’ was not formally endorsed by the UN membership, but merely described as ‘a useful guide’ in the relevant Resolution, "

[Clarification by MB:  Mr Manning is not correct.  The General Assembly in Resolution 56/95 of 14 December 2001 recommended the "Road Map", not its Annex containing the MDGs, as a useful guide.
No UN resolution of 2001 mentioned the MDGs or the Annex containing the MDG framework. The full text is later in this document]

"and that the subsequent updating has been carried out by the so-called Inter-Agency and Expert Group on the Millennium Development Goal Indicators, a body whose status is pleasingly unclear.
Nevertheless, despite this less than robust formal basis, there can be no doubt that the MDGs have become highly influential at least at the level of international discourse about development."

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1759-5436.2010.00098.x/abstract
2010
The Impact and Design of the MDGs: Some Reflections
Richard Manning (former UK Department for International Development Director General)

 

 

 

"...strong critique of the MDGs from Professor Thomas Pogge...that the goals were diluted so that they could be reached.

For example, at the 1996 world food summit in Rome, policymakers pledged to halve the number of chronically under-nourished people between 1996 and 2015. By 2000, however, when the eight MDGs were declared, [!]  there was a subtle change so that the pledge became to halve the proportion of hungry people between 2000 and 2015."

Mark Tran
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2013/may/15/tax-arms-exports-protectionism



 

"(MDGs), which were in place from 2000 to 2015."

http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2015/sep/24/sustainable-development-goals-business-sdg-targets

 

 

 

 

"shared responsibility, as already enshrined in the Millennium Declaration.  ...
We need to recommit and build more clearly on the Millennium Declaration, reaffirming its values and principles, such as solidarity and

shared responsibility, and its substantive human rights content."

Statement on behalf of the European Union and its Member States

Post-2015 intergovernmental negotiations session
22-25 June 2015
https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/14920eu.pdf

 

 

 

"In 2000, world leaders set out to halve 1990 [!] extreme poverty and hunger rates by the end of 2015."

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/feb/19/millennium-development-goal-one-poverty-hunger

 

 

 

A Guardian article of September 2015 writes of "accountability" without mentioning the actual pledges leaders reaffirmed in 2013:

 

"Global goals: Targets without accountability are not worth having "

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2015/sep/24/david-miliband-sustainable-development-goals-un-new-york-irc

 

The Guardian article again encourages people to hold governments to account for the wrong targets, rather than what was actually adopted in 2000 and reaffirmed in 2013:

"The accountability question is especially pertinent as world leaders look to build upon the progress of the millennium development goals, which were adopted in 2000 and have led to significant gains in expanding access to education, reducing hunger and improving healthcare in the developing world. Humanitarian advocates point out that the development targets from 15 years ago"….

The article also states,

"grassroots organisations and nonprofits are fixated on one word: accountability."

 

 

 

"the gathering in New York will be a regular jamboree. There will be mutual backslapping about the progress that has been made over the past 15 years, a good deal of it justified. ….
millennium development goals that set the framework for poverty reduction between 2000 and 2015
[!]
One billion people have been lifted out of poverty and the MDG objective of halving the number living below the global agreed minimum was achieved five years early."

http://www.theguardian.com/business/economics-blog/2015/sep/20/as-un-meets-to-fight-poverty-europe-puts-up-razor-wire-to-keep-poor-out

 

 

 

 

 

"Millennium development goals? They're eight targets to which heads of state signed up at the UN millennium summit in September 2000. [!]

So how's that going? Results have been mixed. The targets on access to clean
[!] water and universal gender parity in primary education have been met…"

Development jargon decoded: post-2015 | Les Roopanarine
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2013/sep/02/development-jargon-decoded-post-2015

 

 

 

" world leaders set the millennium development goals (MDGs) 15 years ago"
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/aug/13/should-aid-still-flow-to-middle-income-nations-or-are-the-poorest-the-priority

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Some 2.6 billion people have gained access to improved drinking water since 1990…
"663 million people across the world still do not have access to improved drinking water."

What have the millennium development goals achieved?
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/datablog/2015/jul/06/what-millennium-development-goals-achieved-mdgs



Comment:  The Guardian cannot know how many people gained access to improved drinking water.

The statistics are not on whether the water is improved;  they are only on whether the type of source is in the "improved" category.


"the assumption that improved sources are more likely to provide safe water than unimproved sources is misleading."

Human Rights and MDGs in Practice:
A review of country strategies and reporting
United Nations
2010
http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/HRAndMDGsInPractice.pdf



UNICEF/WHO, 2011:

"At the current rate of progress, 672 million people will not use improved drinking water sources in 2015. It is likely that many hundreds of millions more will still lack sustainable access to safe drinking water."

http://www.wssinfo.org/fileadmin/user_upload/resources/report_wash_low.pdf



 

"A new report (pdf) from World Health Organisation and Unicef says that 1.8bn people are estimated to use a source of drinking water that is contaminated with faeces. "

Over 1bn people drink water contaminated by faeces
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2014/sep/02/sanitation-contamination-world-water-week

 

 

 

 

 

"What is MDG1?

In 2000, world leaders set out to halve 1990 [!] extreme poverty and hunger rates by the end of 2015. This means that the percentage of impoverished people – defined by the World Bank as those living on less than $1.25 (£0.83) a day – must fall to 25% by the end of this year, while the proportion of people without adequate food security must be reduced to 12.5%."

"It’s uncertain if hunger will be halved by the end of this year."

What is the millennium development goal on poverty and hunger all about?
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/feb/19/millennium-development-goal-one-poverty-hunger

 

Comment: Leaders in 2000 set out to halve 2000 rates, not 1990 rates. 

The reported rates fell in the 1990s.

If the Guardian percentages are "correct" (there is no objective "poverty" or "hunger" rate) the percentages, according to the actual pledges of 2000, "must" fall by different amounts from those reported by the Guardian.

 


The article states,

"In its most recent progress report (pdf), the UN said 14% of the world doesn’t have adequate access to food."


But that is not what the report said.

The MDG Report 2014, to which the passage links, in fact refers to:


"The proportion of undernourished people in developing regions"

as

"14 per cent in 2011–2013."


That refers to people who are chronically hungry in the sense of lacking calories.  

"Adequate" access to "food" is something else.  On children, it states among other things:


"Stunting—defined as inadequate length or height for age—can reflect better than underweight the cumulative effects of child undernutrition and infection during the critical 1,000-day period covering pregnancy and the first two years of a child’s life. Stunting is more common than underweight, with one in four children affected globally in 2012. Although the prevalence of stunting fell from an estimated 40 per cent in 1990 to 25 per cent in 2012, an estimated 162 million children under the age of five remain at risk of diminished cognitive and physical development associated with this chronic form of undernutrition."

 

............................................

 

 

 

"The joint report released by the UN agencies evaluates progress on global targets set in 2000....

2.1 billion people gaining access to better sanitation facilities since 1990....

The world has done better in giving more people access to clean [!] drinking water, with 2.6 billion people getting improved access since 1990.

Still, 663 million [!] of the world’s poorest…have seen no improvement at all...."

[There are no official estimates of water quality]

"the world aimed to cut child mortality by two-thirds..."

[Comment: The "target set in 2000" was from 2000: officially, from 75 per thousand]

"...but managed to reduce it only by half."

[Comment: The Guardian is here, by contrast, referring to a target with an easier baseline, 1990: officially, from 90 per thousand.]


http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jul/01/billions-have-no-access-to-toilets-says-world-health-organisation-report

 

 

Note:  The MDG target for water does not, as has been widely assumed, mention the easier 1990 baseline.  
To my knowledge, all accounts of the MDGs from "MDG architects" or based on interviews with them, or from UN agencies, academics, think-tanks or others omit the following:

A document dated 14 and 17 September 2001 – after the Secretary-General produced the proposed MDG framework - appears to be a claim from the "MDG architect" representing the rich countries via the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and from the OECD Secretariat as a whole, that the MDG negotiators agreed a 2000 baseline for the MDG water target.

 

 

 

"there is no evidence that the so-called “improved” technologies do provide safe water or adequate sanitation.

....Baseline date

The definition of [MDG on water] Target 10 does not explicitly provide for a baseline date against which progress should be monitored."

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
November 2005
http://www.oecd.org/environment/outreach/35372500.pdf

 

 

 

"the eight UN Millennium Development Goals, which in 2000 aimed to halve extreme poverty rates"

Now's the time for government, business, civil society and the public to act together | The B Team partner zone
http://www.theguardian.com/the-b-team-partner-zone/2015/jun/10/government-business-civil-society-public-multistakeholder-partnership

 

 

 

"What are the millennium development goals on child mortality and maternal health all about?

The goals on reducing child mortality and improving maternal health are closely related. How have they fared since their launch?

The child health goal has one target: to reduce the under-five mortality rate by two-thirds by 2015. At its inception in 2000, the maternal health goal was also limited to a single target : to reduce the maternal mortality ratio by three-quarters. …

There has been substantial progress in reducing child mortality over the past 15 years, but not enough to achieve the goal of a reduction by two-thirds. Between 1990 and 2012, the child mortality rate almost halved, meaning that 6 million fewer children died in 2012 than in 1990. ….
According to UN figures, it would take until 2028 to achieve MDG4 globally. Less than one-third of all countries have achieved or are on track to meet the goal by the end of this year."

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/may/27/millennium-development-goals-child-mortality-maternal-health-explainer

 

 

 

"2000 [!] ...

UN launches millennium development goals"

70 achievements, 70 years: a visual guide to what the UN has done
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/21/united-nations-70-years-achievements-visual-guide

 

 

 

"the Labour leader, Ed Miliband, said that the MDGs had shown what could be achieved when consensus was reached.

“As a result of the millennium development goals – 15 years later [!]"

Give us a better, safer future, British teenagers urge Cameron and Miliband
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/jan/15/action-2015-campaign-poverty-climate-change-british-teenagers-david-cameron

 

 

 

"The UN spearheaded action on reducing child mortality through its Millennium Development Goals, announced in 2000. The number of deaths of children under five fell from 12.7 million in 1990 to 6.3 million in 2013."

What has the United Nations ever done for you? – interactive
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/15/united-nations-what-has-it-ever-done-for-you-interactive

 

 

 

 

"At its inception in 2000, the maternal health goal was…: to reduce the maternal mortality ratio by three-quarters.

 …child mortality over the past 15 years, but not enough to achieve the goal of a reduction by two-thirds. Between 1990 and 2012, the child mortality rate almost halved, meaning that 6 million fewer children died in 2012 than in 1990. ….
…Less than one-third of all countries have achieved or are on track to meet the goal by the end of this year."

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/may/27/millennium-development-goals-child-mortality-maternal-health-explainer

 

 

 

 

 

Comment on Guardian Readers' Editor page 20 September 2015:

http://www.theguardian.com/sustainability/2015/sep/15/readers-editor-accuracy-pcc-ipso#comment-59858267

Dear Mr Elliott,

Misleading the public on leaders' world poverty pledges undermines democracy and takes political power from the worst-off.

I propose that the Guardian remedy a serious error before the UN Summit begins on 25 September.

I complained on 8 July, and again after The Guardian repeated the error.

www.poornews.org/guardian.htm

The original complaints are here:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jul/19/the-guardian-view-on-global-development-goals-heed-the-good-news-but-more-needs-to-be-done#comment-56111306

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jul/19/the-guardian-view-on-global-development-goals-heed-the-good-news-but-more-needs-to-be-done#comment-56111650

The UK and other countries are committed to reducing under-five child deaths and other indicators from the rate in 2000, not merely as the Guardian implies the 1990 baseline of the heavily-publicised "Millennium Development Goals".

Over the period 2000-15, that amounts to around 5 million children saved.

The Millennium pledge for "halving" of hunger, even if one accepts the strange definition of "insufficient calories" employed by the FAO and the unreliable statistics, is according to official estimates to halve the 15% in 2000, not the 18.6% in 1990. The current estimate is 10.9%, which makes ridiculous any claim on the basis of official statistics that a pledge has been nearly met.

millenniumdeclaration.org/hunger.pdf

Leaders also appear to be still committed to the 1996 Rome Declaration pledge to bring the number of hungry - more ambitious than the proportion - to half the 1996 level.

The Guardian has repeatedly given, and continues to give despite complaints, the impression that easier "Millennium Development Goal" targets with 1990 baselines are what leaders pledged at the Millennium Summit.

In reality they made pledges with 2000 baselines - as the Guardian said in 2000 said they would, as Reuters, the New York Times and the Times of India said they had, and as Peter Singer wrote in the Guardian in 2010. Leaders reaffirmed the pledges in 2005 and 2013.

In July 2015 leaders in Addis Ababa reaffirmed the Monterrey Consensus' intentions to create economics conditions to fulfil the Declaration's goals and publicise the Declaration (see millenniumdeclaration.org/pledges.htm ).


Documentary evidence from UN resolutions and other sources:

millenniumdeclaration.org/pledges.htm

Yours sincerely,

Matt Berkley


......


"millennium development goals, which guided aid spending and public policy in the developing world from 2000."

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/sep/19/global-poverty-summit-revolutionary-action-sustainable-development-goals

Links to an article listed in the complaint:

"In 2000, world leaders set out to halve 1990 extreme poverty and hunger rates by the end of 2015. This means that the percentage of impoverished people...must fall to 25% by the end of this year, while the proportion of people without adequate food security must be reduced to 12.5%. ...The target to reduce extreme poverty by half was reached by 2010"

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/feb/19/millennium-development-goal-one-poverty-hunger


"the eight UN goals agreed in 2000"
Justine Greening: 'I like to cut through the crap'
http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/jan/25/justine-greening-interview-cut-crap


"the UN set its millennium development goals for indicators such as extreme poverty, infant mortality and access to clean water, in 2000."

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/apr/08/oecd-rich-nations-help-poorest-aid-falls-development


"Alexander says the government...helping to achieve the eight millennium development goals agreed in 2000 by 189 governments."

Education: Think global: International development secretary Douglas Alexander defends the government's progress on promises made on the environment and poverty
Ford, Liz. The Guardian 29 Apr 2008: 2.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The corrections and complaints submitted beginning on 7 July 2015 are plainly on a cumulative effect.  

After the Guardian was notified of the errors, it continued to publish misinformation.

 

 

"the millennium development goals (MDGs) established in 2000"

Sheikh Hasina: ‘I want to make Bangladesh poverty-free’ | Simon Tisdall and Anna Ridout

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/sep/25/sheikh-hasina-i-want-to-make-bangladesh-poverty-free-sustainable-development-goals

 

 

 

"Since the launch of the millennium development goals 15 years ago" [!]

Data 'crucial' to eradicating poverty
http://www.theguardian.com/media-network/2015/sep/28/data-poverty-sustainable-development-goals-un

 

 

"The millennium development goals, introduced in 2000"

World leaders agree sustainable development goals – as it happened

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/live/2015/sep/25/un-sustainable-development-summit-2015-goals-sdgs-united-nations-general-assembly-70th-session-new-york-live

 

 

 

The Guardian implies leaders' actual pledges of 2000, reaffirmed in 2013, with 2000 baselines, do not exist:

 

"The report card is in on the UN’s first [!] set of global targets, the millennium development goals."

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/jul/23/we-must-quench-thirst-663-million-people-without-safe-water

 

 

 

"Millennium Development Goals, announced in 2000. The number of deaths of children under five fell from 12.7 million in 1990 to 6.3 million in 2013."

What has the United Nations ever done for you? – interactive
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/15/united-nations-what-has-it-ever-done-for-you-interactive

 

 

 

"maternal mortality has dropped by 45% since 1990
...Millennium Development Goal 5…
...the UN targets set in 2000."

What's the best bit of the UN? No 7: UN Population Fund
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/10/best-bit-un-unfpa-united-nations-population-fund

 

 




"proportion of undernourished people has fallen by almost half, from 23.3% in 1990. The UN report might of course be discarded as just a self-serving vindication for some of the ambitions that the organisation set itself at the launch of the millennium development goals back in 2000
[!], when promises were made..."

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jul/19/the-guardian-view-on-global-development-goals-heed-the-good-news-but-more-needs-to-be-done



In reality the UN report is not on the ambitions or promises of 2000.

 

It is on overlapping, but in some important cases easier, MDG targets devised later. 

 

 

 

"Fifteen years after world leaders gathered in New York to agree an unprecedented global assault on poverty, disease and inequality, the final report is in on the eight millennium development goals (MDGs) they set.[!]
 ....If progress on the MDGs has been mixed ...their architects can at least claim that progress on ending extreme poverty has been spectacular: between 1990 and this year, the number of those living in extreme poverty has fallen from 1.9 billion to 836 million."
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/jul/07/sustainable-development-goals-will-be-hard-sell-for-united-nations


There are three problems with the quotation above. 

First, it gives a wrong impression that leaders only pledged the generally easier 1990-baseline MDG targets rather than the actual 2000-baseline pledges.

Second, it makes a categorical statement about "extreme poverty" without any information on inflation faced by the extremely poor, or changing needs for food, fuel, water, accommodation, transport or anything else – despite rapidly changing societies.


Third, was the agreement unprecedented?  Perhaps in terms of the range of commitments, but not in terms of the ambition of some important ones.   The hunger target is less ambitious than leaders set in 1996. 

millenniumdeclaration.org/pledges.htm

 

 

 

"In 2000, the UN adopted the Millennium Declaration…
It went on to agree the eight millennium development goals aimed at narrowing the gulf between the developed and developing world over the course of 15 years
" [!]

Comment:  The General Assembly did not mention, still less "agree", MDGs in 2000 or 2001.  
The USA in 2005 was adamant that the UN had not formally endorsed the MDG framework.
Leaders did mention them later in 2005, but at the same time reaffirmed the Declaration.
This made the easier 1990-baseline MDG targets effectively redundant

– see millenniumdeclaration.org/pledges.htm].

"Although the goals were only fixed in the aftermath of the declaration"

Comment: The actual pledges by member states were fixed in the Declaration and reaffirmed in 2001, 2003, 2005, 2008 and 2013.

"and designed to expire in 2015, many of them used 1990 statistics for their baseline targets"


http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/24/the-big-reckoning-how-many-people-did-the-millennium-goals-save

 

 

 

 

"15 years on [!], the MDGs have been found to have mixed results."

Guardian staff member.
Live Q&A: What’s going to go wrong at the Sustainable Development Goals Summit?
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2015/sep/21/live-qa-whats-going-to-go-wrong-at-the-sustainable-development-goals-summit#comment-60140133

 

 

 

 

"As the international millennium development goals were officially wound down last weekend, Guardian reporter Sam Jones asks how far the 15-year UN plan “to free our fellow men, women and children from the abject and dehumanising conditions of extreme poverty” has achieved its original objectives."

Inside the 2 October edition | News | The Guardian

http://www.theguardian.com/news/2015/sep/29/guardian-weekly-obama-putin-un-development-goals

 

But that refers to the Millennium Declaration.  For the reporter to answer his question would involve 2000 baselines, not the easier MDG targets.

 

An article from the same reporter of September 24 refers wrongly to 

"The landmark 15-year millennium development goals project".

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/24/the-big-reckoning-how-many-people-did-the-millennium-goals-save

(see above for more detail on this article)

 

Another from the same reporter on the same day reads:

"This weekend the UN will draw a line under the millennium development goals (MDGs), the targets agreed on 15 years ago [!] to “spare no effort to free our fellow men, women and children from the abject and dehumanising conditions of extreme poverty”. …
Almost exactly 15 years after the MDGs were announced [!]…"

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/24/un-sustainable-development-goals-succeed-poverty

 

 

The quotation is from the Millennium Declaration, adding to the misleading impression that it only pledged the easier MDG targets.

 

The same article states,

"targets agreed 15 years agojust missed…the target of halving the proportion of people suffering from hunger."


But this does not in fact apply, according to the official statistics, to the target agreed "15 years ago".

The FAO statistics refer to a global fall from about 15% in 2000 to 10.9% in 2015:  nowhere near a halving.

 

 

 

 


Same-day telegram to editor of the Guardian 2 October 2015:

Dear Ms Viner,

Monday's proposed column: errors relating to Millennium
pledges reaffirmed by national leaders in 2013

I refer to my telegram of 23 September, and complaints
and evidence at poornews.org/guardian.htm .
The Guardian Readers' Editor has told me of an intention to
publish a column about these complaints on Monday.
I have written to him that the action needed seems to be
wider, including formal corrections; that "establishing the
facts is the first priority"; and "I strongly recommend that
you send me anything you are considering for publication".

Due partly to the fact that some details are not commonly
known (millenniumdeclaration.org/pledges.htm ), it may be easy
to inadvertently misrepresent  facts, reports and/or complaints.

The subject is government commitments to the people.
I urge you to ensure that what is published on this subject
meets an appropriately high standard of precision and that if
the public has been given wrong impressions, those are, within
reason, rectified.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Yours sincerely, Matt Berkley

 

 

 

…………………………………………………….

 

 

 

 

 

 


"PEOPLE…ASSUME THAT THE "MDGS" ARE AGREED DEVELOPMENT GOALS FROM THE MILLENNIUM DECLARATION, WHICH THE UNITED STATES SUPPORTS. OFTEN THE UN SECRETARIAT AND REPRESENTATIVES OF A NUMBER OF COUNTRIES, HOWEVER, USE IT TO REFER TO THE SECRETARIAT GOALS...…

SUBJECT: THE MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS (MDGS) -- WHAT ARE THEY?
04/26/05
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO ALL DIPLOMATIC AND CONSULAR POSTS COLLECTIVE
pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/PCAAB560.pdf

 

 

 

Millennium Declaration, 2000:

"We, heads of State and Government…
at the dawn of a new millennium…
resolve...by the year 2015...
to have reduced
maternal mortality by three-quarters,
and
child mortality by two thirds,
of their
current rates. …

We solemnly reaffirm, on this historic occasion,
that the United Nations is the indispensable common house
of the entire human family…
We therefore pledge our unstinting support for these common objectives
and our determination to achieve them.
"


 

 

 

The Guardian:


"…in 2000, the UN made that…pledge…
to cut maternal mortality by 75%
between 1990 and 2015"


"promises made at summits
are lamentably easy to forget
on the plane home"

 

"One of the UN's eight
Millennium Development Goals
in 2000
was to reduce
the ratio of maternal mortality…
over the period 1990-2015
by three quarters."

"agreed in 2000,
to cut child mortality by two- thirds
between 1990 and 2015"


"In 2000, world leaders set out to halve
1990 extreme poverty"


"Guardian Global Development
will track
the goals set out by
the United Nations
Millennium Declaration"

"UN nations agreed to reduce child mortality
by two-thirds from its
1990 level by 2015"


"Fifteen years after world leaders gathered
in New York…
[MDGs] they set
between 1990 and…"


"Improving maternal health is one of the
[1990-2015]
MDGs, adopted in 2000."


"in 2000, the
[1990-2015 MDG]
maternal health goal…"


"Goals, announced in 2000…
deaths of children under five…
12.7 million in 1990"


"[1990-2015 MDG5]
set in 2000"


"[1990-2015 MDGs]
were set in 2000."


"the UN set its
[1990-2015 MDGs]
in 2000."


"proportion of undernourished…
fallen…from 23.3% in 1990. …
ambitions that the organisation set…
in 2000, when promises were made...."


"maternal mortality has dropped by 45% since 1990
the UN targets set in 2000."


"the world aimed to cut child mortality by two-thirds [in fact from 2000]
but managed to reduce it only by half." [from 1990]


"(MDGs) …agreed by
the world's leaders in 2000.
...between 1990 and 2010…
one of the first…
(MDG) targets to be met"


"maternal mortality has dropped
by a third since 1990.
…the goals were set in 2000."

 

(MDGs) - drawn up at the
United Nations in 2000, and
adopted by 189 countries"


"[1990-2015] MDGs, which were agreed in
New York in September 2000"


"[1990-2015]
millennium development goals -
the eight targets set in 2000 by the
United Nations Millennium Declaration"


 

 

 


In that document is evidence that

- the USA did not recognise the Millennium Development Goal framework until 2005,

and that

- the easier 1990-baseline MDG targets – which the General Assembly did not mention in 2000 or 2001 - were chosen to continue past trends.  

The actual 2000-baseline pledges of 2000, which leaders reaffirmed in 2013, are more ambitious. 

 

Neither document should be read as endorsing official or other concepts, methods or claims unless clearly stated or clearly implied.

 

 

 

A common belief that UN member states agreed the backdated, 1990-2015 MDG targets in 2000 or 2001 is not true. 

In reality, General Assembly resolutions show they agreed the more ambitious 2000-2015 goals of the Millennium Declaration in 2000, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2008 and 2013.

 

millenniumdeclaration.org/pledges.htm

 

 

 

"The MDGs were unveiled to great fanfare [!] at the turn of the millennium" [!]

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2009/mar/09/recession-millennium-goals

 


The problem with the above quotation, which expresses a common belief, is that there is no obvious trace of this "fanfare" about 1990-2015 targets proposed in 2001 but not mentioned by leaders at the UN until 2005, and no trace of anyone using the phrase "Millennium Development Goals" in 2000. 

 

 

 

"We resolve...by the year 2015...
to have reduced maternal mortality by three-quarters, and child mortality by two thirds, of their current rates"

http://www.un.org/millennium/declaration/ares552e.htm



 

 

"in 2000, the UN made that…pledge…to cut maternal mortality by 75% between 1990 and 2015."

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2008/may/02/women.gender



 

"The charity accuses the world's leaders of a scandalous failure to meet the Millennium Development Goals, agreed in 2000, to cut child mortality by two- thirds between 1990 and 2015"

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/oct/04/india-slums-children-death-rate

 

 



"UN nations agreed to reduce child mortality by two-thirds from its 1990 level by 2015"

Fairer spending could save 4m children by 2020, says report
http://www.theguardian.com/society/2010/sep/06/fairer-spending-could-save-4m-children

 

 

 

"One of the main millennium development goals, set out in 2000 to be achieved by 2015 and the subject of a major UN conference in September, is to cut child mortality from its 1990 level by two-thirds. "

$5bn could avert 6m child deaths, Lancet study says
http://www.theguardian.com/society/2005/jun/24/internationalaidanddevelopment.internationalnews



 

"Brown urged world leaders not to use the credit crunch as an excuse to abandon pledges made by the UN back in 2000, with the world only half way to the 2015 deadline. ...
He said
the world had to face the shameful truth that despite all the promises

[in 2000 the promises were to be met from 2000 rates]

the millennium development goal on infant mortality

[
the MDG target is easier than the actual promise]

would not be met by 2050, let alone 2015."

Gordon Brown urges UN against indifference towards Millennium Development Goals
http://www.theguardian.com/society/2008/sep/25/internationalaidanddevelopment.gordonbrown1

 

 

 

 

"At its inception in 2000, the maternal health goal was…: to reduce the maternal mortality ratio by three-quarters.

 …child mortality over the past 15 years, but not enough to achieve the goal of a reduction by two-thirds. Between 1990 and 2012, the child mortality rate almost halved, meaning that 6 million fewer children died in 2012 than in 1990. ….
…Less than one-third of all countries have achieved or are on track to meet the goal by the end of this year."

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/may/27/millennium-development-goals-child-mortality-maternal-health-explainer

 

 

 

"Millennium Development Goals, announced in 2000. The number of deaths of children under five fell from 12.7 million in 1990 to 6.3 million in 2013."

What has the United Nations ever done for you? – interactive
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/15/united-nations-what-has-it-ever-done-for-you-interactive



 

"One of the UN's eight Millennium Development Goals in 2000 was to reduce the ratio of maternal mortality - the number of mothers who die per 100,000 - recorded over the period 1990-2015 by three quarters."

Why are mothers still dying in childbirth?
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2008/sep/28/sierraleone.internationalaidanddevelopment

 

 

 

"The UN set its millennium development goals in 2000, with targets for 2015..."

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2007/aug/01/uk.internationalaidanddevelopment

 

 

 

"The numbers of humans living on less than $1.25 a day will be halved by 2015, a success for a Millennium Development Goal target set in 2000." [!]

How lack of food security is failing a starving world
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2013/jun/08/food-security-failing-starving-world

 



"...set of figures that shows maternal mortality has dropped by a third since 1990. 

...In 1990, there were 546,000 deaths, says today's publication. In 2008, there were 358,000.

...since the goals were set in 2000."

Reason to rejoice over drop in maternal deaths
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2010/sep/15/maternal-deaths-numbers-drop

 

 

 

"maternal mortality has dropped by 45% since 1990
...Millennium Development Goal 5…
...the UN targets set in 2000."

What's the best bit of the UN? No 7: UN Population Fund
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/10/best-bit-un-unfpa-united-nations-population-fund

 

 

 

"The MDGs, which were agreed in New York in September 2000, [!] set out eight specific – and ambitious – goals…including…reducing maternal and child mortality rates. ….

The World Bank says the goal of halving global poverty

[! – World Bank has no estimates of inflation faced, or needs:  how is that "poverty"?]

will be met, as the population share of extremely poor people in developing countries

[! –
non-existent MDG target, but easier than the actual target]

is projected to fall from 29% in 1990

[wrong baseline for agreement of September 2000]

to 12% in 2015. The world has also met

[unexplained logic from "World Bank says" to "has also met"]

the target of halving the proportion of people without access to improved sources

[! target is for safe water; the official indicator is not on safety]

of water"

"This article was amended on 5 November 2012. The original said "Save the Children says 70% of the world's poorest people live in middle-income countries". This research was in fact done by IDS"

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2012/oct/31/post-2015-development-agenda-explained

 

 

 

"Britain will not break the promises made to the world's poorest countries...

Ten years ago, world leaders came together and agreed eight crucial targets – the millennium development goals (MDGs)"

[! – MDGs have a standard 1990 baseline;  agreement has 2000 baseline]

Nick Clegg: The coalition will cut maternal deaths by 2015
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2010/sep/14/nick-clegg-coalition-maternal-deaths

 

 

 

"the eight UN goals agreed in 2000 " [!]
Justine Greening: 'I like to cut through the crap'
http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/jan/25/justine-greening-interview-cut-crap

 

 

 

………………………………………………………………………

 

 

 

"The word that Melinda Gates wants to spread is that there is hope. Hope that the millennium development goals (MDG), the eight international targets laid down by the UN in 2000, can be met by the 2015 deadline. "I'd like people in the room to recognise we've made huge progress," she says. "We're not going to make them all, but government money has made an enormous difference."

As an example, she points to MDG1 which, despite its less than snappy title, is fundamental: the eradication of extreme hunger and poverty. The world is on course, remarkably, to cut poverty in half by 2015, with 1.3 billion people already having clawed themselves out of it since 1990."

Melinda Gates: gods with chequebooks
http://www.theguardian.com/theguardian/2010/sep/17/melinda-gates-microsoft-foundation-charity

 

 

 

"We will be working with developing countries, NGOs and other partners to produce 10 year health and education plans and to secure the funding for them. No good plans should go unfunded. This will require a joint effort by all donors, to implement the commitments made at Gleneagles and at the UN Millennium Summit."

Prime Minister's speech
http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2006/jun/26/development.uk1



 

 

"targets agreed on 15 years ago…"

[effectively, to halve the reported proportion of around 15% hungry in 2000]

"...just missed
the target of halving the proportion of people suffering from hunger."

[the current UN estimate is 10.9%]

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/24/un-sustainable-development-goals-succeed-poverty



According to the Guardian in 2000 and 2002, the "target agreed on 15 years ago" had a baseline of 2000.

The FAO statistics refer to a fall from about 15% in 2000 to 10.9% in 2015: 

http://millenniumdeclaration.org/hunger.pdf 



 

 

"The Guardian's award-winning global development site was launched in 2010 to provide special focus on the millennium development goals — the eight targets set in 2000 by the United Nations Millennium Declaration with the aim of improving the lives of the world's poorest people by 2015. …

Unless otherwise stated, all statements and materials posted on the website, including any statements regarding specific legislation, reflect the views of the individual contributors and not those of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation nor the Guardian."

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2010/sep/14/about-this-site

 

 

 

"The joint report released by the UN agencies evaluates progress on global targets set in 2000 [!] for giving everyone access to clean drinking water and sanitation facilities, along with other goals in areas such as poverty, hunger, disease and inequality. ….

"The world has done better in giving more people access to clean
[!] drinking water, with 2.6 billion people getting improved access since 1990.

Still, 663 million [! – see below on "many hundreds of millions more"] of the world’s poorest…have seen no improvement at all. Instead, they are left to scavenge for water around broken pipes and stagnant ponds, may walk miles to the nearest spigot for clean water…"

"the world aimed to cut child mortality by two-thirds,

[Comment: The "target set in 2000" was from 2000: officially, from 75 per thousand to 25]

but managed to reduce it only by half."

[Comment: That is from 1990: officially, from 90 per thousand to 43.]

Billions have no access to toilets, says World Health Organisation report
http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jul/01/billions-have-no-access-to-toilets-says-world-health-organisation-report

 

 

 

"Sustainability: living our values
Guardian News & Media sustainability report 2014

Speaking truth to power"

GNM sustainability report 2014: editorial
http://www.theguardian.com/sustainability/sustainability-report-2014-editorial



……………………………………………………………………….

 

 

In 2000, Helen Clark as Prime Minister of New Zealand resolved to reduce global child and maternal mortality from "current rates".  

The declaration she adopted did not mention a 1990 baseline. 

The Guardian reported that it would have a 2000 baseline.  

Reuters, the New York Times, the Economist and the Times of India reported that it had a 2000 baseline.  

 

 



"Since 2000, the MDGs have helped to mobilise action around specific goals. From the 1990 baseline,

[in reality the UN General Assembly reaffirmed Ms Clark's 2000 baseline in 2001, 2003, 2005, 2008 and 2013]

some 800 million people have moved out of extreme poverty

[there are no UN estimates of need or relevant inflation],

two billion have gained access to drinking water,


[the official UN estimates are not of water quality]….

New technologies will play a part in…better health and education services, and increasing interaction between citizens and state."

Technology and global development: Q&A with Helen Clark, UNDP
http://www.theguardian.com/media-network/media-network-blog/2013/jun/28/technology-development-helen-clark-undp

 

 

It is not clear what "increasing interaction between citizens and state" means, or what the net value of "new technologies" playing a part in "better…education" if states, their agencies and their contractors give citizens the wrong information about global goals and progress. 

 

 

 

"leaders must honour their MDG pledges"

Millennium development goals: UN summit must prompt action, not complacency | Larry Elliott
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2010/sep/23/millennium-development-goals-un-summit

 

 

 

"We will support actions to achieve the Millennium Development Goals."

Coalition agreement: our complete audit of the programme for government
http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2010/sep/17/coalition-agreement-programme-for-government

 

 

MB comment:  Why did the coalition not say they support actions to achieve the pledges of the Millennium Declaration, to which the UK is committed? 

 

 

 

 

"The MDG experience should be treated as one more step in a long, hard road, but it remains a road we travel together."

Aid: Making development go | Editorial

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2010/sep/25/millenium-development-goals-guardian-website

 

 

Comment: It is not a road we travel together if the poor do not know what countries are committed to, or what lies behind claims of progress.

 

 

"MDGs) that had been agreed by the world's leaders in 2000. [!]
According to the WHO / UNICEF Joint Monitoring 2012 Program Report, between 1990 and 2010 over two billion people were provided with an improved water source. This was one of the first Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets to be met [Target is on "safe" water, not "improved source"] since they were set thirteen years ago. [!]
….around 800 million of the world's poorest people- still lack access to safe [!] water…."

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2013/mar/27/were-the-mdgs-worth-it

 

The official statistics are not on safe water.  The Guardian's statistic of 800 million should be described as relating to "improved sources" with a statement that the sources so classed have not been found to give safe water.

The same WHO/UNICEF team stated in 2011 that it was likely "many hundreds of millions more" would lack safe water than those who had access to the "improved sources".

 


"the assumption that improved sources are more likely to provide safe water than unimproved sources is misleading."

Human Rights and MDGs in Practice:
A review of country strategies and reporting
United Nations
2010
http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/HRAndMDGsInPractice.pdf


UNICEF/WHO, 2011:

"At the current rate of progress, 672 million people will not use improved drinking water sources in 2015. It is likely that many hundreds of millions more will still lack sustainable access to safe drinking water."

http://www.wssinfo.org/fileadmin/user_upload/resources/report_wash_low.pdf

 

 

 

There is no 1990 baseline in the 2000 agreement on global goals.

There is no 1990 baseline for the water target in the subsequent MDG framework.

The MDG framework, which generally has 1990 baselines, appears not to have been agreed in 2000 or 2001 by the UN membership.


millenniumdeclaration.org/unlibrary.htm

 

 

"The sustainable development goals [SDGs] – which replace the millennium development goals adopted in 2001…"

What has the United Nations ever done for women?
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/10/un-womens-rights-feminism-equality

 

 

If the Guardian cannot provide evidence or other justification for its claims, including implied statements and cumulative effects of information it has provided, then retraction and prominent correction would seem consistent with its code. 

 

 

…………………………………………………..

 

 

 

2000:

"[the Millennium] summit…will almost certainly endorse a UN declaration...
halving within 15 years the 22% of the world's population now existing on less than a dollar a day."

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2000/sep/02/cuba.ewenmacaskill

 

 

2002:

"Two years ago at the UN millennium summit, world leaders set themselves the task of halving global poverty over the next 15 years"
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2002/aug/22/worldsummit2002.earth4

 

 

2015:

"In 2000, world leaders set out to halve 1990 [!] extreme poverty and hunger rates by the end of 2015."

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/feb/19/millennium-development-goal-one-poverty-hunger

 

[Note:  A "president's draft" of the Millennium Declaration was reported on the internet as containing the figure of 22%, which was in the Guardian report of 2000 but is not in the actual Declaration adopted.  However, this does not make much difference. 
Other evidence, such as countries' welcoming of the Secretary-General's recommendation document which does have 2000 baselines for the money and water goals, together with common sense, seem to make an overwhelming case that the leaders were in effect adopting goals starting from "current rates".]


2015:

"proportion of undernourished people has fallen by almost half, from 23.3% in 1990. The UN report might of course be discarded as just a self-serving vindication for some of the ambitions that the organisation set itself at the launch of the millennium development goals back in 2000
[!], when promises were made..."

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jul/19/the-guardian-view-on-global-development-goals-heed-the-good-news-but-more-needs-to-be-done



In reality the UN report is not on the ambitions or promises of 2000.

 

It is on overlapping, but in some important cases easier, MDG targets devised later. 

These have a less certain basis in UN resolutions of the early 2000s:

http://unstats.un.org/unsd/mdg/Host.aspx?Content=/Products/GAResolutions.htm

https://www.unngls.org//orf/MDG/background.htm

http://www.preventionweb.net/english/hyogo/mdg/resolutions/?pid:233&pif:3

millenniumdeclaration.org/unlibrary.htm 

 

A further problem with the article is this. Neither the promises of 2000 nor the subsequent MDG framework mention targets for the "developing world". 

What the Guardian wrongly presents as official targets, even aside from the baseline error, are statistically easier than the actual pledges or the actual MDG targets.

The reason is faster total population growth in those countries than in the world.  

 

 

 

"(MDGs), the targets agreed on 15 years ago to “spare no effort to free our fellow men, women and children from the abject and dehumanising conditions of extreme poverty”. …
Almost exactly 15 years after the MDGs
[!] were announced …"

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/24/un-sustainable-development-goals-succeed-poverty

The quotation is from the Millennium Declaration, adding to the misleading impression that it only pledged the easier MDG targets.

 

The same article states,

"targets agreed on 15 years agojust missedthe target of halving the proportion of people suffering from hunger."


But that is not true, according to the official statistics, of the "target agreed on 15 years ago".

The FAO statistics refer to a fall from about 15% in 2000 to 10.9% in 2015:  nowhere near halved.

 

http://millenniumdeclaration.org/hunger.pdf 



 

"Fifteen years after world leaders gathered in New York to agree an unprecedented global assault on poverty, disease and inequality, the final report is in on the eight millennium development goals (MDGs) they set.[!]
 ....If progress on the MDGs has been mixed ...their architects can at least claim that progress on ending extreme poverty has been spectacular: between 1990 and this year, the number of those living in extreme poverty has fallen from 1.9 billion to 836 million."
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/jul/07/sustainable-development-goals-will-be-hard-sell-for-united-nations


There are three problems with the quotation above. 

First, it gives a wrong impression that leaders only pledged the generally easier 1990-baseline MDG targets rather than the actual 2000-baseline pledges.

Second, it makes a categorical statement about "extreme poverty" without any information on inflation faced by the extremely poor, or changing needs for food, fuel, water, accommodation, transport or anything else – despite rapidly changing societies.


Third, was the agreement unprecedented?  Perhaps in terms of the range of commitments, but not in terms of the ambition of some important ones.   The hunger target is less ambitious than leaders set in 1996. 

millenniumdeclaration.org/pledges.htm

 

 

 

 

 

…………………………………………………….

 



In 2001, the Secretary-General proposed easier "Millennium Development Goal" targets with 1990 baselines.  The General Assembly resolution of 14 December 2001 welcomed his 58-page report, but did not mention the MDGs, or eight goals, or 1990;  instead it called for more publicity for the Declaration.  On 21 December 2001 and subsequently, the Assembly reaffirmed the Declaration. 

Leaders reaffirmed the 2000-baseline pledges in 2005 and 2013. 

In 2015 leaders reaffirmed the Monterrey Consensus, which supported a global information campaign on the internationally agreed goals, including those of the Declaration.

 

 

 

The Guardian was correct in 2002, apart from the omission of "extreme":

"Two years ago at the UN millennium summit, world leaders set themselves the task of halving global poverty over the next 15 years"
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2002/aug/22/worldsummit2002.earth4

 

 

But the Guardian has since wrongly stated or implied, and given a cumulative impression, that leaders in 2000 agreed the generally easier "Millennium Development Goal" targets with baselines of 1990.

 

 


"the eight UN goals agreed in 2000 " [!]
Justine Greening: 'I like to cut through the crap'
http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/jan/25/justine-greening-interview-cut-crap

 

 

 

………………………………………………………….

 

 


Same-day telegram to editor of the Guardian 2 October 2015:

Dear Ms Viner,

Monday's proposed column: errors relating to Millennium
pledges reaffirmed by national leaders in 2013

I refer to my telegram of 23 September, and complaints
and evidence at poornews.org/guardian.htm .
The Guardian Readers' Editor has told me of an intention to
publish a column about these complaints on Monday.
I have written to him that the action needed seems to be
wider, including formal corrections; that "establishing the
facts is the first priority"; and "I strongly recommend that
you send me anything you are considering for publication".

Due partly to the fact that some details are not commonly
known (millenniumdeclaration.org/pledges.htm ), it may be easy
to inadvertently misrepresent  facts, reports and/or complaints.

The subject is government commitments to the people.
I urge you to ensure that what is published on this subject
meets an appropriately high standard of precision and that if
the public has been given wrong impressions, those are, within
reason, rectified.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Yours sincerely, Matt Berkley

 

 

 

Guardian 2015:

"
In 2000, the UN adopted the Millennium Declaration…
It went on to agree the eight millennium development goals aimed at narrowing the gulf between the developed and developing world over the course of 15 years
" [!]

Comment:  The General Assembly did not mention, still less "agree", MDGs in 2000 or 2001.  
The USA in 2005 was adamant that the UN had not formally endorsed the MDG framework.
Leaders did mention them later in 2005, but at the same time reaffirmed the Declaration.
This made the easier 1990-baseline MDG targets effectively redundant

– see millenniumdeclaration.org/pledges.htm].

"Although the goals were only fixed in the aftermath of the declaration"

Comment: The actual pledges by member states were fixed in the Declaration and reaffirmed in 2001, 2003, 2005, 2008 and 2013.

"and designed to expire in 2015, many of them used 1990 statistics for their baseline targets"


http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/24/the-big-reckoning-how-many-people-did-the-millennium-goals-save

 

 

 

The Guardian did publish an article once on the change of baseline, but seems never to have mentioned false statements by UN agencies or others that the Declaration agreed the easier MDG targets.

Despite its own article stating that the baseline had changed, the Guardian continued to publish misleading information.

 

Moving the millennium development goalposts

Peter Singer

7 October 2010

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2010/oct/07/millennium-development-goals-un-poverty

"Promises made by world leaders to halve extreme poverty no longer mean the same thing. Just read the small print

In 2000, the world's leaders met in New York and issued a ringing millennium declaration, promising to halve the proportion of people suffering from extreme poverty and hunger by 2015. …

As the Yale philosopher Thomas Pogge has pointed out, the task has been made easier by moving the goalposts. Even before 2000, the World Food Summit held in Rome in 1996 pledged to halve the number of undernourished people by 2015. By contrast, the corresponding MDG was to halve the proportion of the world's people who are suffering from hunger (as well as of those living in extreme poverty). Because the world's population is rising, halving the proportion of people suffering from hunger (and extreme poverty) is not the same the same thing as halving the number.

But worse was to come. When the millennium declaration was rewritten as a set of specific goals, the baseline for calculating the proportion to be halved was set not at 2000, but at 1990. That meant that progress already made could contribute to the achievement of the goal."

 

…………………………………………………..

 


An article from 2015 also referred to the MDGs changing a baseline:


"This trend has long been a thorn in the side of the United Nations, although they’ve managed to make the story a bit more palatable by shifting the goal posts. When the millennium declaration was signed in 2000, the goal was now to halve the proportion of hungry people rather than the absolute number, which made it easier to achieve. The MDGs also pushed the base year back to 1990..."

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2015/jul/17/the-hunger-numbers-are-we-counting-right

 

 

 

"Malloch-Brown credits Kofi Annan, the then UN secretary general, backed by the Labour government, including a high-profile development secretary, Clare Short, in pushing for the MDGs at the UN millennium summit in 2000. [!] "It was a benign, optimistic time, before 9/11 and the Iraq war, when peace and harmony was not thought to be impossible. It was in that context that Kofi directed myself and others to get universal support of the whole membership", for the MDGs, says Malloch-Brown."

Mark Malloch-Brown: developing the MDGs was a bit like nuclear fusion
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2012/nov/16/mark-malloch-brown-mdgs-nuclear

 

Comment: The US State Department and Ambassador to the UN made clear in 2005 that the US had not endorsed, and did not regard the UN as having endorsed, the MDG framework. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guardian juxtaposes "MDG" with statistics which are not on the MDG: 

"Agricultural investments and successful government policies mean more than 200 million people are no longer extremely malnourished. That, according to a report released on Tuesday by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), has put “within reach” the millennium development goal (MDG) to halve the proportion of hungry people.

But more than 800 million people are still chronically undernourished, despite a reduction in the percentage of seriously underfed people in low-income countries from 23.4% in 1990 to 13.5% this year, the State of Food Insecurity in the World 2014 said."

More than 200 million people no longer extremely malnourished
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2014/sep/16/hunger-fao-report-millennium-development-goal

 

The MDG does not specify "low-income countries".   That is an easier target to meet than the actual MDG target because of total population growth in those countries. 

 

 

"The millennium development goals laid out in 2000"

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2010/sep/14/mdg6-hiv-aids-russia

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 October 2015 at 09:56
Re: Urgent: Guardian risks misleading again during UN Summit.
To: "Readers' editor (Guardian)" <guardian.readers@theguardian.com>

Dear Mr Elliott,

I am afraid I do not understand.  

Is the Guardian not printing corrections?   

I intend to take the case to the review panel if appropriate remedial action is not taken.

Giving the public the wrong impression of government commitments undermines democracy.

Since the topic here is misreporting of basic facts, I suggest establishing the facts is the first priority.   I have not yet seen evidence that any Guardian staff member has understood the facts or the complaints.

 

On your proposal:

Having seen these problems misrepresented in the past, I strongly recommend that you send me anything you are considering for publication, even if it is only quotations from the complaints and website.

Any account of the complaints, and any adjudication, would need to recognise that the repeated errors have had a cumulative effect.

Clearly, any breach of standards is in the light of this accumulation.


Also of relvance are the symbolic nature of the date 2000 and the fact that many readers would already have heard that there were historic pledges in 2000.  The result is that mistakes about the date tend to mislead.

"The Guardian's policy is to correct significant errors as soon as possible. "
https://www.theguardian.com/info/2013/sep/23/guardian-readers-editor

I myself failed to look at the Declaration text for many years. 

In my submission, the problems to be solved include how to remedy the lack of information to poor people on what governments are committed to, and how to report what is an international scandal.  

You will note, for example, David Cameron's falsehood to the UN last week:

"MDGs were adopted in the year 2000"
PM's speech to the UN Sustainable Development Goals Summit 2015 - Speeches - GOV.UK
https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pms-speech-to-the-un-sustainable-development-goals-summit-2015

 

Overall, it seems to me that if the newspaper cannot find UN resolutions to back up its claims, there should be a full retraction - especially given the repeated errors during the Summit.

I have updated the page poornews.org/guardian.htm to reflect recent errors.   You may take these as part of the overall complaint, along with the telegram to the editor-in-chief.

I have four relevant websites:

millenniumdeclaration.org

poornews.org

poorscience.org

mattberkley.com



A factor which may be relevant to the Guardian's action is this:

Peter Singer's 2010 Guardian article pointing out the discrepancy seems to have had no effect on the Guardian's reporting on the MDGs or Declaration.  

A recent article had made a related point:

"...United Nations, although they’ve managed to make the story a bit more palatable by shifting the goal posts. When the millennium declaration was signed in 2000, the goal was now to halve the proportion of hungry people rather than the absolute number, which made it easier to achieve. The MDGs also pushed the base year back to 1990..."
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2015/jul/17/the-hunger-numbers-are-we-counting-right


The failure to act promptly on the complaints, and the subsequent publication of further misleading information, seems to strengthen the case for a proper remedy, not of the accuracy of articles already read, but of the impression gained by the public.

 

 

The journalistic failures include failing to inform the public of the actual pledges reaffirmed by leaders in 2005 and 2013 - which effectively render the generally easier heavily-publicised MDG targets redundant - and failing to report the scandal.

millenniumdeclaration.org/millenniumscandal.htm

 

Yours sincerely,

Matt Berkley





 

On 1 October 2015 at 15:15, Readers' editor (Guardian) <guardian.readers@theguardian.com> wrote:

Dear Mr Berkley,

I plan to write a brief column about your concerns over the way the MDG's are reported. As you have your own website I hope you don't mind if I quote from your emails and furthermore if I identify you as the complainant? I am quite happy to simply lay out your complaint without identifying you and if I don't hear from you that's what I will do. The column will be published on Monday

 

 

Best wishes

 

 

Chris Elliott

 

 

 


 

Same-day telegram to Guardian editor-in-chief
23 September 2015

 

Dear Ms Viner,

 

I am afraid the Guardian has made an error on the Millennium

Declaration pledges, and looks set to repeat it in reporting

this week's UN Summit.

 

A complaint of July has not been answered.

 

Contrary to popular belief, the easier 1990 baseline of the

MDGs proposed in 2001 is not in the Declaration, and it is

difficult to find any UN resolution formally approving the
change.
 
I have sent Chris Elliott a reply from the UN library failing
to find such a resolution.
The General Assembly, far from formally approving the easier
baseline in 2001, reaffirmed the Declaration, which has 2000
baselines, on 21 December 2001.
 
Evidence on resolutions is here:  ungoals.org
 
Evidence on the Guardian coverage is here:
poornews.org/guardian.htm
 
Yours sincerely, Matt Berkley
 
 

 

 

23 September 2015 at 12:39
Dear Mr Elliott,

 

Urgent: Guardian risks misleading again during UN Summit.

The Guardian has understated UN commitments of 2000 to the poorest people on earth, reaffirmed in 2013.

There is no 1990 baseline in the Millennium Declaration.  There is a 1990 baseline in the later MDGs.

I understand that staff may be surprised to find they cannot support a common belief.

Neither I nor anyone else seems to be able to confirm the Guardian's claims that world leaders, or the UN General Assembly, agreed the easier Millennium Development Goals around the year 2000.

Unless the newspaper can find a UN resolution to support its version, I suggest you ask journalists to stop making the unfounded claims pending investigation and remedy.

Evidence from actual UN resolutions is here:  millenniumdeclaration.org/pledges.htm

Yours sincerely,

Matt Berkley.

 

---------- Forwarded message ----------

From: Dag Hammarskjöld Library | Bibliothèque Dag Hammarskjöld | Bibliotheca Dag Hammarskjöld <ask@un.libanswers.com>

Date: 21 September 2015 at 17:37

        Subject: Ask DAG: A reply to your query : In which resolution did UN member states first endorse the specific target of reducing child mortality by 2015 to a third of its rate in 1990?

 

        Susan Kurtas

       Sep 21 2015, 12:37pm via System

        In this case, I will try to find someone who has more knowledge of this topic who may be able to respond to your concerns.

   

 

        Matt Berkley

 

        Sep 21 2015, 12:31pm via Email

        Dear Susan,

 

        Thank you. Resolution 56/95 states that the Assembly takes note of the

        Report, but not the 1990 baseline. The Report is 58 pages long. In the

        same resolution, the Assembly urged more publicity for the Declaration,

        which seems to amount to endorsing the 2000 baseline.

 

        On 21 December 2001 the Assembly reaffirmed the Declaration, which has 2000

        baselines.

 

        The 2005 World Summit resolution did mention the MDGs, but also reaffirmed

        the Declaration.

 

        So I cannot see where the Assembly decided to change its commitment

        to reduce child mortality by two-thirds from the 2000 rate.

 

        Susan Kurtas

 

        Sep 21 2015, 12:21pm via System

 

        The Secretary-General report in A/56/326, Road map towards the implementation of the United Nations Millennium Declaration : report of the Secretary-General, Annex, p. 55, states, "For the purpose of monitoring progress, the normal baseline year for the targets will be 1990, which is the baseline that has been used by the global conferences of the 1990s."

 

        This report was taken note of in A/RES/56/95.

 

        Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

 

        Peace,

 

        Susan K.

 

        

 

        

 

        Matt Berkley

 

        Sep 21 2015, 11:21am via Email

        Dear Ms Kurtas,

 

        Thank you. But I cannot understand what you write here:

        The time-bound targets in the Declaration have 2000 baselines, as was

        reported at the time. Those did not become known as MDGs.

 

        Susan Kurtas

 

        Sep 21 2015, 10:55am via System

 

        The MDG indicators website has background information with links to the key documents and resolutions: http://mdgs.un.org/unsd/mdg/Host.aspx?Content=/Products/GAResolutions.htm

 

        

 

        This publication may give more details:

 

        Indicators for Monitoring the Millennium Development Goals: Definitions, Rationale, Concepts and Sources

 

        

 

        I am still waiting on our catalogue... Sorry for the delay.

 

        Peace,

 

        Susan  K.

 

        

 

        

 

        Susan Kurtas

 

        Sep 21 2015, 10:49am via System

 

        In September 2000, the United Nations Millennium Declaration was adopted (A/RES/55/2) committing nations to reduce extreme poverty and setting time-bound targets - with a deadline of 2015 - that became known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

        The actual goals and indicators were elaborated after the declaration and research on these is a little more tricky.  I am waiting for our Library's catalogue to be re-started so I can search there to see if I can find when the child mortality goal was set.

 

        Peace,

        Susan


        Original Question

        Sep 20, 2015 via System

        In which resolution did UN member states first endorse the specific target of reducing child mortality by 2015 to a third of its rate in 1990? Thank you.

 

…from the Client Services team of the United Nations Dag Hammarskjöld Library.

 

 

 

……………………………………………………………..

 

 

 

Date: 6 August 2015 at 16:13
Subject: Re: Problems in reporting Millennium Summit commitments
To: Readers' Editor <reader@guardian.co.uk>

Dear Mr Elliott,

Thank you.

 

In that case please inform the editor-in-chief that the MDGs' 1990 baseline is not in the Declaration.

http://www.un.org/millennium/declaration/ares552e.htm

Thank you.

Yours sincerely

Matt Berkley

 

 

 

On 6 August 2015 at 14:10, Readers' Editor <reader@guardian.co.uk> wrote:

Dear Mr Berkley,

Because of holidays and the complex nature of the subject it may be a while before I am able to give it my full attention but I will look into it.

Best wishes

Chris Elliott

 

 

 

On 6 August 2015 at 13:35, Matt Berkley <mattberkley wrote:

Dear Mr Elliott,

Thank you for looking at this issue, and please thank the lady in your office for her time on the phone today. 

 

It is not only the Millennium pledges which have been altered and misrepresented by governments or civil servants. 

The FAO use a "1990-92" baseline for leaders' pledge of 1996 to halve the proportion of hungry people by 2015.

But earlier they said the baseline was 1996.

 

The exchange below on the Guardian website is with, and the comment relates to, a senior FAO statistician. 

 

Yours sincerely,

Matt Berkley


..................................................................


http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2015/jul/17/the-hunger-numbers-are-we-counting-right



....mattberkley

19 Jul 2015 0:24

The problems with the FAO claims extend beyond the MDG reports and beyond issues of definition of food security.

As I state at www.millenniumdeclaration.org, the FAO backdated the World Food Summit baseline as well as using a backdated "Millennium" baseline. The WFS did not agree to a 1991 or 1990 baseline, and yet countries accept awards from FAO for meeting a non-existent pledge.

I write, "The official MDG list falsely states that the 1990-2015 targets come from the Millennium Declaration.
On its main statistics web pages the FAO falsely claims that the Declaration has a 1990 baseline. "

"A global fall in the proportion of hungry people from 15% to 10.9% using the UN definition and UN statistics for the Millennium Declaration period is nowhere near a "halving" mentioned by the FAO. "

"The FAO database indicates, if the countries for which statistics are given are a guide, a projection to 2015 of 33 countries, not 72, halving the proportion in the period specified in the Millennium Declaration pledge."

For the MDG reports the FAO adds in even more countries:

"According to SOFI 2015 estimates, Costa Rica has reached the MDG1 hunger target. The PoU [prevalence of undernourishment] has decreased from 5.2 percent in 1990-92 to 4.99 percent in 2014-16. During the same period, the NoU [number of undernourished] has increased from 0.16 million to 0.25 million people."
http://www.fao.org/post-2015-mdg/awards/en/


   



[carlocafiero to mattberkley]
   
19 Jul 2015 11:51


Matt,

you say that the WFS did not agree to a 1991 or 1990 baseline. I respectfully and strongly disagree.

I remind you and the readers that all background documents informing the World Food Summit in 1996, and all figures mentioned in the resolutions (including the Declaration itself) make reference to the assessment published by FAO with the Sixth World Food Survey publication.

As, at that time, statisticians had still the last word on what to publish, and they wisely did not venture in heroic forecasting, the latest reference period for the assessment in the 1996 publication was the triennium 1990-92, which therefore has become the baseline since.

Yours,
Carlo




[mattberkley to carlocafiero]

19 Jul 2015 17:39

If the FAO has some evidence to back up a claim that leaders agreed a 1990-2 baseline, it can point to that specific evidence.

When someone gives a pledge, it is not just what is in their mind or the mind of an adviser or a background paper that matters. In law and in common sense, the meaning of a contract, agreement or promise depends on what impression is given - in this case, to the public, including voters.

"We, the Heads of State and Government, or our representatives...pledge...number of undernourished people to half their present level no later than 2015." ...
    "the target of reducing the number of undernourished people to half their present level no later than 2015."

Rome Declaration and Plan of Action, 1996
http://www.fao.org/docrep/003/w3613e/w3613e00.HTM

In 1996 statisticians had to mention old figures because they did not yet have "present level", 1996 estimates. In 2015, they do not need 1990 figures to assess the 1996-2015 pledge.

FAO is able to:

    a) report on the actual 1996 pledge;
    b) retract its false statements on the Millennium pledge;
    c) publish estimates on the actual Millennium pledge;
    d) retract its misleading impression that the MDG target includes something about "5 per cent";
    e) retract its misleading impression that the MDG global target is for "developing countries".

And also people can argue over the definition.


 



 mattberkley

22 Jul 2015 12:12



The FAO may wish to prevent its representatives claiming leaders at the 1996 World Food Summit agreed a 1990-2 baseline.

    ..........................................................

    Produced by: Technical Cooperation Department
    The Committee on World Food Security: NGOs and the reporting process

The Summit entrusted FAO's Committee on World Food Security (CFS) with the task of monitoring the implementation of the Plan of Action and progress in reaching the minimum target of reducing the number of undernourished people to half the 1996 level no later than 2015.

    http://www.fao.org/docrep/w7515e/W7515e01.htm

    .................................

    Rome, July 17, 2004

In 1996, the Rome Declaration on World Food Security was approved...the World Food Summit approved a Plan of Action, encompassing several objectives to fulfil the immediate goal of reducing - no later than 2015 - the number of undernourished people to half the 1996 level.

    Flávio Miragaia Perri
    Ambassador
    Permanent Representative of Brazil to FAO

    ..............................................

    Title: The right to food in theory and practice...
    Produced by: Office of Director-General

    Foreword

In November 1996 the world's leaders gathered in Rome for the World Food Summit. They considered it intolerable that more than 800 million people in the world do not have enough food to meet their basic nutritional needs and pledged their political will and their commitment to achieving food security for all and to an ongoing effort to eradicate hunger in all countries, with an immediate view to reducing the number of undernourished people to half its 1996 level no later than 2015.

    Jacques Diouf
    Director-General,
    Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

    http://www.fao.org/docrep/w9990e/w9990e01.htm

   

    [end of comments on Guardian website]




 

 

...............................................................................................................................................

 

 

Email to Guardian Readers' Editor

20 July 2015 at 22:13

Dear Mr Elliott,

I am afraid the Guardian has made the same mistake again.

"In 1990, nearly half of the population in the developing world lived on less than $1.25 a day. ...proportion of undernourished people has fallen by almost half, from 23.3% in 1990. The UN report might of course be discarded as just a self-serving vindication for some of the ambitions that the organisation set itself at the launch of the millennium development goals back in 2000, when promises were made...."

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jul/19/the-guardian-view-on-global-development-goals-heed-the-good-news-but-more-needs-to-be-done

The MDGs were not launched in 2000.  The ambition for the promises made in 2000 is to achieve the targets from a 2000 baseline, as the report below correctly states - not a 1990 baseline.

The MDG framework proposed in 2001 ( http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/sgreport2001.pdf ) has the generally easier 1990 baselines.  It was not mentioned by world leaders at the UN until 2005.  

The difference was stated in a Guardian article in 2010, below.

Neither the Declaration nor the MDGs mention proportions in "developing countries", which are easier goals because of total population growth.  

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Matt Berkley

 

 

...........................................................

 

 

"The three-day summit, which begins on Wednesday, will almost certainly endorse a UN declaration.... The declaration is a condensed version of a speech made earlier this year by the UN secretary general...

The aims include halving within 15 years the 22% of the world's population now existing on less than a dollar a day."

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2000/sep/02/cuba.ewenmacaskill

 

.........................................................

 

"In 2000, the world's leaders met in New York and issued a ringing millennium declaration, promising to halve the proportion of people suffering from extreme poverty and hunger by 2015. They also pledged to halve the proportion of people without safe drinking water and sanitation; move toward universal and full primary schooling for children everywhere – girls as well as boys; reduce child mortality by two-thirds and maternal mortality by three-quarters; and combat HIV/Aids, malaria, and other major diseases. These pledges, reformulated as specific, measurable targets, became the millennium development goals (MDGs).

...As the Yale philosopher Thomas Pogge has pointed out, the task has been made easier by moving the goalposts. ....When the millennium declaration was rewritten as a set of specific goals, the baseline for calculating the proportion to be halved was set not at 2000, but at 1990."

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2010/oct/07/millennium-development-goals-un-poverty

 



On 8 July 2015 at 07:58, Matt Berkley wrote:

 

Dear Mr Elliott,

I write about an unusual situation.  It is difficult to get the tone right, so please forgive me.

Like many people, I thought the Millennium Development Goal targets were in the Millennium Declaration.

Then I read work by the philosopher Thomas Pogge, which pointed out that some MDG targets had watered down the actual commitments.

Many people make the same error, and among them journalists at the Guardian.

There is no 1990 baseline and no easier "proportions in developing regions" in the Declaration.

Yesterday's story reads,

"Fifteen years after world leaders gathered in New York to agree an unprecedented global assault on poverty, disease and inequality, the final report is in on the eight millennium development goals (MDGs) they set. ....If progress on the MDGs has been mixed ...their architects can at least claim that progress on ending extreme poverty has been spectacular: between 1990 and this year, the number of those living in extreme poverty has fallen from 1.9 billion to 836 million."
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/jul/07/sustainable-development-goals-will-be-hard-sell-for-united-nations

"The final report is in on the eight millennium development goals (MDGs) they set" is not correct.  The report is on the MDG targets.  The leaders in 2000 agreed to cut child and maternal mortality by the same proportions as in the later MDGs, but from "current rates".

http://www.un.org/millennium/declaration/ares552e.htm

I am afraid this is not what was reported in 2000:


"In 2000, world leaders set out to halve 1990 extreme poverty and hunger rates by the end of 2015."
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/feb/19/millennium-development-goal-one-poverty-hunger

The February article also states,

"More broadly, the MDGs have been criticised for targeting a reduction in the proportion of people living in poverty, rather than the absolute number. Thomas Pogge, a professor in development studies at Yale University, said this could “paint far too rosy a picture of the evolution of extreme poverty” (pdf)."

Professor Pogge criticises such a change from the World Food Summit of 1996 to the Millennium Declaration.  But also, in the article to which the Guardian links, he stated:


"One may think that the missing baseline is obvious: It is simply the time at which the MDGs are adopted, the year 2000 in analogy to how the Rome Declaration
set the “present level” as the baseline. But the UN instead uses 1990 as the baseline, thereby expanding the plan period to 25 years."
http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---dgreports/---stat/documents/publication/wcms_087882.pdf

[There was no mention in 2000 of the phrase "MDGs" - he is referring to the goals in the Millennium Declaration.] 

 

As Professor Pogge has also pointed out, the UN's interpretation of the Declaration looks at "developing regions".  This also makes MDG "global" targets easier where they are expressed as proportions of total population.  The reason is that total population in those countries grows at a faster rate than world population, which is what the Declaration is about.


"While the MDGs have ended extreme poverty for more than a billion people since they began in 2000"
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/jul/07/mdg-final-report-eu-strategy-refugees-and-the-value-of-democracy

That is not what the World Bank claims.  It is what the Secretary-General proposed to the Millennium Summit, but it was not "achieved" officially. Nor did the MDG framework begin in 2000.

I put "achieved" in inverted commas because of the multiple problems with the notion and practice of claiming to measure "extreme poverty".

 

 

I have placed more analysis at www.millenniumdeclaration.org .

Some of what FAO, UNICEF and others have said is simply false.

There are also mistakes in the February article about the World Bank research method, but the baseline and "developing regions" misconceptions are more common.

I am sorry to say that the Guardian has published much material giving the wrong impression. 


Perhaps the Guardian could take a guess at what might remedy the misconception among readers, and the consequences of publishing the information over an extended period.

Yours sincerely,

Matt Berkley





 

…………………………………………………………………….

 

 

 

Previous correspondence to the Guardian

 

 

Bold and underlining added later:

 

1 June 2003

To:  larry.elliott@guardian.co.uk

...All studies of poverty suffer from the following flaw:  if more poor people die early, the figures look “better”.   In the age of AIDS, this is not just a theoretical possibility.   The idea of “poverty reduction” as reducing the proportion of poor people is conceptually flawed, if the aim is to help poor people.  ...

Existing statistics on poverty are cross-sectional. 

But all of them look “worse” if poor people survive longer. 

So you cannot come to conclusions about how well or badly people did without looking at changes in life length. 

For economists to try and estimate average food prices paid by poor people is far more complex than many people might think.   And the statistical offices’ methods for setting a money value on food consumption are often not comparable with each other. 

But food adequacy itself is a very complex and expensive thing to measure.  It involves weighing the food people eat and asking them many questions, which, again, yield different answers according to different methods.  

The simple solution is staring us in the face. 

People who eat more usually live longer. 

 

……………

 

 

Email not to the Guardian, June 2003:

…one of the letters I wrote recently (to the Hindu, the Guardian and the Taipei Times) was printed.   

Taipei Times, Saturday, Jun 07, 2003,Page 8

Economists' fatal flaws

…The proportion will fall faster if more poor people die earlier. The proportion is not an indicator of success of hungry people unless you know that survival rates are improving.

 

……………………………………………….

 

 

 

 

"Mr Brown will make the announcement at a seminar organised by the Department for International Development and the United Nations Development Programme, where he will launch the UK's five-point implementation plan to meet the millennium development goals set by the United Nations for 2015. …
"…action is needed now if the world is to realise the ambition of the millennium declaration agreed in New York in 2000." he will say"

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2005/jan/26/uk.health



 

 

"Mr Brown vowed to bring together 12 world leaders and 20 top business figures to sign up to a new commitment to meet the eight MDG targets - which range from maternal mortality to the spread of malaria.

In strongly moral language he called it a "coalition of conscience" and a "coalition for justice", which in the end could make "globalisation a force for justice on a global scale". ...

The eight MDGs, signed by most of the nations on earth in 2000 [!] with a deadline of 2015, set out to halve the proportion of the world's population living on under a dollar a day...
to cut by two thirds the under-five mortality rate; to cut by 75% the maternal mortality rate; to begin to reverse the spread of both HIV and malaria; to halve the number of people without access to fresh drinking water...

Mr Brown told his audience: "We cannot allow our promises that became pledges to descend into just aspirations, and then wishful thinking, and then only words that symbolise broken promises.

"We did not make the commitment to the Millennium Development Goals [!] only for us to be remembered as the generation that betrayed promises rather than honoured them and undermined trust that promises can ever be kept."

UN a million miles from meeting development goals, says Brown
http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2007/jul/31/foreignpolicy.uk

 

 

 

"(MDGs). These pledges [?] were designed to halve global poverty by 2015...
2000, when the goals were set"
[!]

Barbara Stocking
Chief executive, Oxfam

Ruth Bond
Chair, The National Federation of Women's Institutes

Letter: UK must persuade on millennium goals
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2010/sep/20/uk-must-persuade-millennium-goals

 

 

 

 

A public-relations triumph at the expense of the truth:

 

"The eight millennium development goals, which guided international development for the past 13 years, [!] have been a ccommunications success" [!]

What made MDGs such a public relations success?

As a new initiative,"



[Comment: – The MDGs were not a "new initiative" but are in fact:
- a 2001 rebranding of 20 of 21 targets in the 1990-2015 seven International Development Goals of June 2000 from a list originally devised by the OECD in 1996,
plus
- some elements from the Millennium Declaration and
- a partnership goal.  

This passage gets it right:

"Few remember that the origin of the MDGs is the 1996 OECD report Shaping the 21st Century: the Contribution of Development Co-operation. The report set out six goals, and these eventually became the MDGs adopted and managed by the UN at the turn of the millennium."
The UN can represent the interests of poorer countries better than the OECD | Jonathan Glennie
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2011/may/23/un-oecd-aid-effectiveness ]



"the MDGs were defined for audiences worldwide as a set of goals focused on a singular objective:
the
[?] "global anti-poverty goals." For example, the One campaign writes on its web site that the MDGs "injected new momentum into the fight against global poverty." On another occasion, President Abdullah Gül of Turkey said: "The MDGs constitute the biggest [?] anti-poverty push in history." The simplicity of their definition made the goals accessible to new audiences beyond traditional development circles. In addition to their simplicity, the focus on poverty eradication brought the goals to a moral high ground, promoting a noble cause that few would deny.

Second, the MDGs were presented as endorsed by every government in the world, [!] which imbued the initiative with an overwhelming air of social consensus. The endorsement  

[! – in which resolution?]

of 189 presidents and prime ministers gave the goals a significant authority: it supported the belief that the goals are the right thing to do.

Finally, the MDG agenda emerged in 2000 [!]..."

Beyond MDGs: branding the sustainable development goals
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2013/oct/16/mdg-sustainable-development-goals

 

 

 

 

"millennium development goals by 2015....
The millennium goals, set out in a UN poverty summit in 2000..."

World failing to meet UN millennium goals
http://www.theguardian.com/business/2005/jan/17/internationalaidanddevelopment.money

 

 

 

"KEY POINTS

Point 1: At the Millennium Summit in 2000, world leaders committed themselves to achieving eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015"  [!]

Take Action Now!
http://www.theguardian.com/advocacy/take-action-now

 

 

"At the millennium summit in 2000, world leaders surveyed the last two decades of disastrous development policy, especially in Africa, and came up with urgent calls for profound change."

We need good news stories on development | Jonathan Glennie
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2011/jun/02/good-news-development-stories

 

It is true that leaders came up with urgent calls for profound change.

 

It also appears to be true that the pledges they made were watered down to the easier MDG targets which were deliberately set to fit past performance. 

millenniumdeclaration.org/pledges.htm

The public were deceived into thinking that the easier MDG targets were what leaders had agreed. 

 

 

 

http://www.theguardian.com/fao-partner-zone/2014/nov/28/countdown-to-the-post-2015-development-agenda

 

 

 

 

"Since the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were endorsed by 192 UN member states in September 2000, they have served as a benchmark for how the international development community drafts policy and allocates funding through to the year 2015.

A top priority of the MDGs is to halve the number of people in the world experiencing poverty and hunger. While several countries have made progress in this area (China alone has lifted more than 175 million of its people above the poverty line), many other countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, still face the same hunger and poverty levels that they experienced 20 years ago "

Put farming first in Africa
http://www.theguardian.com/society/katineblog/2009/apr/27/farming-in-africa

 

 

 

 

"For the past decade and a half, the world has made a few smart promises with the millennium development goals (MDGs)"

"This article was updated on 25 September 2014 to include the name of the thinktank that published Morten Jerven’s paper."

Cost of gathering data on new development goals could be crippling | Bjorn Lomborg
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2014/sep/24/gathering-data-sustainable-development-crippling

 

 

 

 

 

"(MDGs) – specific targets to which states committed more than a decade ago [!]"

UN meeting on the rule of law was just another day of talk | James A Goldston | Law
http://www.theguardian.com/law/2012/sep/26/united-nations-rule-of-law-talk

 



"those leaders who solemnly signed up for the Millennium Development goals [!] five years ago"

Jonathan Dimbleby: Our last chance to end poverty
http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2005/sep/11/debtrelief.internationalaidanddevelopment

 

 

 

"Having pledged, as part of the millennium development goals (MDGs), to achieve universal primary education by 2015, the international community..."
"the governments that signed up for the MDGs with such solemnity."
[!]

Universal primary education by 2015? Not without some innovative financing | Kevin Watkins
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2011/dec/28/universal-primary-education-innovative-financing

 

 

"I can tell the house that Britain is proposing a new International Finance Facility, with public finance leveraged up by long-term international commitments, to raise the amount of development aid for the years to 2015 from $50 billion a year to $100 billion per year - so that we can meet by 2015 the

[easier targets than the actual pledges of 2000;  of, instead, the]

Millennium Development Goals - including that poverty be halved, that child mortality be reduced by two thirds, and that every child has the right to primary education."

Full text of Brown's pre-Budget speech
http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2002/nov/27/economy.uk1

 

 

 

"Abroad, behind a facade of liberal concern for the world's "disadvantaged", such as waffle about millennium goals and anti-poverty stunts...the Brown government, together with its EU partners, is demanding vicious and punitive free-trade agreements that will devastate the economies of scores of impoverished African, Caribbean and Pacific nations."

John Pilger: Left for dead by New Labour, liberal Britain must urgently fight back
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2007/dec/18/labour.politics

 

 

 

"The last lot, ratified in 2000, were the product of what was possibly the last global concord that actually did something good, or even got agreed.

The millennium development goals (MDGs) are global targets to reduce poverty by 2015."

David Cameron, beware: the post-2015 aid agenda is an MDG minefield | Claire Melamed http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2012/oct/31/david-cameron-post-2015-aid-mdg

 

 

 

"The overall poverty rate is expected to fall below 15% – well below the 23% target set in the millennium development goals (MDGs) – by 2015, fulfilling the target of the first MDG of halving between 1990 and 2015 the proportion of people living on less than $1 day"

"First agreed at the UN MDG summit in September 2000, the eight MDGs set worldwide objectives for reducing extreme poverty and hunger, improving health and education, empowering women and ensuring environmental sustainability by 2015."

Global poverty rate falling, says UN | Mark Tran
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2011/jul/07/millennium-development-goals-2011-report

 

 

 

 

All these reported results mislead concerning fulfilment of the actual pledges of 2000:



"In its annual assessment of where the world stands on meeting the eight millennium development goals (MDGs), set in 2000,
[!] the UN...
According to the MDG 2014 report …the number of children dying before they reach five has almost halved in the past 20 years; the global maternal mortality ratio has dropped by 45%....and the global target to improve access to safe [!] water has been met."

"The MDGs, signed by all UN member states…"

Reducing child deaths: the millennium development goal that is slipping away
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2014/jul/07/child-deaths-mortality-millennium-development-goals

 

 

In which document does the Guardian claim the MDGs were signed?

 

 

 

 

"Gates said that the Millennium Development Goals had succeeded in their targets of halving extreme poverty and child mortality over the period 2000-15"

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/nov/10/world-lessons-ebola-future-outbreak-diseases-bill-gates

 

That is not the period for the targets, and is not the period over which the child mortality claim of a halving has been officially made.   

 

 

 

"A primary misunderstanding is that the SDGs are very different form the millennium goals agreed in 2000. …
many of the NGOs who were active in the MDGs….
"

http://www.theguardian.com/wsscc-partner-zone/2015/jul/23/the-year-of-negotiating-precariously

 

 

 

 

"the UN’s millenium development goals which were set in 2000 with a completion date of this year."

What is the UN general assembly?
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/14/what-is-the-un-general-assembly

 

 

"Brown will use three set-piece events next year - a conference involving the private sector in London in the spring, next summer's meeting of the G8 in Japan and a UN session in New York in the autumn - to reinvigorate the drive to hit the UN's millennium development goals, set in 2000. …
"We know what to do - we need to keep our promises

[! – the promises of 2000 are more ambitious]

and act. I am therefore calling for an millennium development goals action meeting"

[! – the MDG targets are less ambitious]

Brown calls on Google to help world's poor
http://www.theguardian.com/society/2007/dec/10/internationalaidanddevelopment.google

 

 

 

 

 

Guardian publication of false and misleading FAO claims


For the detail of the problems in this area, see the article at

 

http://millenniumdeclaration.org/hunger.pdf  .

 

"Some 72 [!] developing nations – more than half of the 129 monitored – have reached the hunger target"

"Content on this page is paid for and provided by FAO, a sponsor of the Guardian Global Development Professionals Network."

Six key findings in new world hunger report | FAO partner zone
http://www.theguardian.com/fao-partner-zone/2015/jun/05/six-key-findings-in-new-world-hunger-report

 

"At least 72 countries have met the millennium development goal (MDG) to halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of undernourished people, the FAO said."

Social protection schemes hold key to beating world hunger, says UN
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/may/27/hunger-social-protection-schemes-food-insecurity-fao-inequality

 

Comment:  The Guardian is publishing ridiculous FAO spin.  

The FAO's own information states that they have counted among those 72 nations countries which have met other criteria on percentages of hungry people.   These criteria are not in the MDG list and do not count as meeting the MDG target. 

 

 

Even the same article of 5 June published by the Guardian refers to the actual criteria.

In this context the mention of 72 countries clearly implies, wrongly, that the countries halved something. 

"the prevalence of undernourishment and underweight children under five – the two indicators for the MDG 1 hunger target" .

 

 

Another problem with the article of 5 June is that it only gives results for one of the two indicators, which has faster progress in the official reports.  

"In broad terms the objective is considered achieved" is not very rigorous:

"Statistically speaking, the MDG 1c hunger target has not quite been reached, but in broad terms the objective is considered achieved. Between 1990–92 and 2014-15, the share of undernourished people in the total population decreased from 18.6% to 10.9% globally"

 

"Since the MDGs were conceived at the turn of the century" misleads.


It contributes to a false impression that the target that the FAO represents as "broadly achieved" is what leaders pledged in 2000.  

In reality the official rate in 2000 was about 15%, so a reduction to 10.9% is far from meeting the pledge.

 

The Guardian page states:

"about 795 million people on the planet – just over one in nine – still lack the food they need to lead an active and healthy life."

 

But the statistics are on inadequate calories for over one year, for a life of low activity.   They are not on healthy food or enough food for an active life.  


Even in terms of lack of calories, escaping chronic hunger does not mean escaping hunger. 

 

This article wrongly presents people

a) counted as free from serious inadequacy of calories for less than a year as

b) counted as having "enough food":

 

"795 million people do not have enough food enough to eat [!] according to a report released on Wednesday by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (Ifad)."

That is not what the report says, at least not in the detail.  The FAO have another indicator "prevalence of food inadequacy" which counts more people and which was taken to show a slower fall.   It is on a higher standard of calorie adequacy.   Being free of inadequacy of calories for a low level of activity, where the inadequacy lasts longer than a year, does not mean even that you have enough calories, let alone enough food.

The same article similarly understates the problem – if the official statistics are a reasonable guide – here:


"Since 1990, the number of people who do not receive enough nutrients to live an active and healthy life
has been cut by 216 million, according to the State of Food Insecurity report"


Social protection schemes hold key to beating world hunger, says UN
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/may/27/hunger-social-protection-schemes-food-insecurity-fao-inequality

 

 

A further problem is the misuse of cross-sectional statistics – meaning population statistics, or only looking at outcomes for people who survive.

The article of 5 June 2015 above states

"More than 200 million people have escaped the affliction of hunger since 1990"

 

Apart from the fact that the statistics may not be reliable enough to make such judgements, there is a general problem.

While it might be argued that people born during the period who are not hungry have in a sense "escaped" from hunger, the idea that a 200-million fall means 200 million people escaped poverty or hunger is a fundamental mistake.  

Population statistics like these depend on previous births and deaths.   Population projections for some African nations changed significantly because of AIDS.   The number mentioned would amount to 8 million people per year "escaping hunger".   But of course many people die of causes related to inability to obtain adequate diet.

I explained the problem that these kinds of statistics look "better" if the poorest die to two of the MDG architects on 9 and 11 April 2001 -  Brian Hammond of the OECD and Eric Swanson of the World Bank.

If my memory is correct, I stated to Eric Swanson:

"if you don't know how many died, you don't know how many rose out of poverty". 


At the time, the world's economic theorists – at least, those accepted as world experts -  had omitted this from their "poverty measures" and "measures of welfare".   The same week, I wrote to Jeffrey Sachs.  The next week, I made similar points to Ravi Kanbur and Kenneth Arrow.

mattberkley.com/sachs.htm

mattberkley.com/thoughts.pdf

In 2002 and 2003 I had further discussions with Robert Mayo and Jorge Mernies of the FAO, when I was still concerned that this problem had not been given attention.

 

 

 

Readers are invited to consider this headline carefully:

 

"More than 200 million people no longer extremely malnourished"

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2014/sep/16/hunger-fao-report-millennium-development-goal

 

 

................................................

 

 

 

"FAO estimates put the number of people suffering from chronic hunger worldwide in 2003-05 at 848 million, an increase of 6 million from the 842 million in 1990-92, the World Food Summit baseline period."

http://www.theguardian.com/katine/2008/sep/19/development.news

 

Comment: The Guardian may have been too willing to publish what the FAO said.
  
The actual 1996 World Food Summit baseline agreed by nations was not 1990-2 but "present level".

millenniumdeclaration.org/hunger.pdf


Above, in the correspondence to the Guardian, is an exchange from the Guardian website, between one of the FAO statisticians who claimed that the agreed baseline was 1990-2 and this author. 

The exchange contains evidence that the common-sense view – of the natural meaning of the words – was accepted by FAO for a few years.   

In case there is any doubt, a further document supporting the common-sense interpretation that "present level" means from the date of the commitment is this.   The Committee on World Food Summit was in charge of monitoring progress on the 1996 pledge.

 

 

COMMITTEE ON WORLD FOOD SECURITY

Twenty-fifth Session

Rome, 31 May – 3 June 1999

REPORTING FORMAT FOR MONITORING
THE IMPLEMENTATION OF
THE WORLD FOOD SUMMIT PLAN OF ACTION

 

….


9.
         Countries are expected to report on actions….to tackle poverty and food insecurity and to reduce the number of the undernourished within the framework of the WFS Plan of Action. On page 1 of the format governments are expected, where possible, to provide an estimate of the number of the undernourished and food insecure people in their respective country in 1996 and in 1999. ….



GUIDELINES FOR COMPLETING THE FORMAT

For each of Commitments One, Two, Five and (part of) Seven:


….In column 4 of this form reference should be made to the baseline data or status of the situation in 1996 or any latest year prior to the Summit, in showing the achievement of the objective as a result of the implementation of the Plan of Action.

….

 

DRAFT REPORTING FORMAT

 

FORMAT FOR REPORTING ON PRORESS IN IMPLEMENTING
THE WORLD FOOD SUMMIT PLAN OF ACTION
(COMMITMENTS ONE, TWO, FIVE AND
RELATED SECTIONS OF SEVEN)

 

Background information

 

1. Name of the country:

…..

 

5. Estimated number of the undernourished or food insecure in the country:

                    Number in 1996 (or latest available information prior to 1996) ….          

 

 

ftp://ftp.fao.org/unfao/bodies/cfs/cfs25/X1715e.doc

http://www.fao.org/docrep/meeting/X2194e.htm#P170_16888

 

Some countries at least completed these forms:

ftp://ftp.fao.org/es/esa/cfs/Banglade.pdf

ftp://ftp.fao.org/es/ESA/cfs/Nigeria.pdf

ftp://ftp.fao.org/es/ESA/cfs/Australia.pdf

 

………………………………………………………….

 

 

 

 

The Guardian's statement below does not appear to be well-sourced, even aside from the odd implication that the MDGs proposed in September 2001 and of unclear basis in UN resolutions of the early 2000s have been a 15-year push:


"The millennium development goals (MDGs) have driven “the most successful anti-poverty movement in history” and brought more than a billion people out of extreme penury"

UN: 15-year push ends extreme poverty for a billion people
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/jul/06/united-nations-extreme-poverty-millennium-development-goals

 

The Guardian might wish to argue that that is true because of population growth resulting in people not being in "extreme penury" when they would have been if the MDGs had not existed, but otherwise the claim might be at odds with the apparent facts that China and India, responsible for much of the statistical progress, may not have been influenced very much by the MDGs.

 

 

The same article gives a wrong statistic for hunger.

The following should not be taken as endorsing FAO methods or claims:

Official FAO global estimates for hunger are 18.6% in 1990-2 and 10.9% in 2014-16, not the faster-falling reported proportions for "developing regions" given by the Guardian but not labelled as such.   This is further from a halving than the statistics given.

Nor does the categorical statement on money seem well-sourced, since the statistics are known to be unreliable and there is no estimate of inflation faced by the extremely poor:

"the world has reduced the number of people living on less than $1.25 a day from 1.9 billion in 1990 to 836 million in 2015, the target of halving the proportion of people suffering from hunger was narrowly missed. Between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of undernourished people fell from 23.3% to 12.9%."

 

 

 

A stronger categorical claim appeared in this article:

"extreme poverty around the world has halved since 1990".

New development goals need ambition – and the UK must set the agenda | Jim Murphy | Global development
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2014/jul/14/development-goals-uk-agenda-2015

 

Since there are no estimates of needs or inflation faced by the poor, the basis for the claim is not clear.

 

 

This article omits the fact that statistics have been abused:

"…the SDGs must also do much better than the MDGs. The latter failed to become real-time management tools for governments, civil society organisations and businesses. MDG data arrives with long delays (our most recent data on extreme income poverty dates from 2010) and with massive gaps. We also lack metrics for some important MDG priorities.

These shortcomings are no coincidence. When the MDGs were promulgated in 2001, data and metrics were a mere afterthought. It took several years to compile a list of MDG indicators. Too little time and effort were spent on filling indicator gaps and ensuring real-time monitoring.

Perhaps counterintuitively, the time to debate indicators, fill gaps and think through effective reporting is now – before the SDGs are adopted in 2015. Only by defining metrics and monitoring processes over the coming 18 months will the world be ready to implement the SDGs on 1 January 2016. Now is also the time to mobilise political and financial commitments to support better data for the SDGs."

Why data and metrics are essential for future development goals to be met | Guido Schmidt-Traub | Global development
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2014/jul/04/data-metrics-millennium-sustainable-development-goals

 

 

 

The Guardian wrongly states that the 1990-baseline MDGs were in the 2000-baseline Declaration. 

In reality member states committed themselves to the more ambitious goals of the Declaration in 2000, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2008, and 2013:  see millenniumdeclaration.org/pledges.htm .    They also reaffirmed outcomes of other UN summits and conferences. 

"In 2000, every member state of the United Nations signed up to the Millennium Declaration, which committed them to an ambitious set of eight goals [!] by 2015…"

Eight steps to a better world
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2010/sep/14/background-millennium-development-goals

 

 

Another categorical statement without inflation figures for the poor:

"One of the most striking indicators is the steep drop in global poverty levels. In 1990, nearly half of the population in the developing world lived on less than $1.25 a day. That proportion has dropped to 14% in 2015"

The Guardian view on global development goals: heed the good news, but more needs to be done | Editorial

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jul/19/the-guardian-view-on-global-development-goals-heed-the-good-news-but-more-needs-to-be-done

 

 

 

"As a sign of Britain's commitment to cutting maternal mortality, one of the eight millennium development goals (MDGs) set in 2000, a new £5m fund is to be established to help midwives and health workers in Britain share their skills with birth attendants, nurses and doctors in the world's poorest countries.

Cameron writes today: "….A decade ago, the world set a target of reducing maternal mortality by 75% by 2015."

David Cameron calls on G8 to target maternal deaths
http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2010/jun/03/david-cameron-g8-maternal-mortality

 

 

"the millennium development goals, which were agreed in 2000 to last until this year."

Sustainable development must prioritise women's sexual health
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/apr/18/sustainable-development-women-sexual-health-rights

 

 

 

"the millennium development goals agreed in 2000"

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2012/mar/30/move-beyond-aid-debate

 

 

"Many civil society groups view the MDGs' assumption that there can be development without freedom as lop-sided. Although the MDGs have a strong focus on poverty reduction and some economic and social rights, they contain no mention of "good governance" and "Democratic and participatory governance based on the will of people" – both of which were clearly spelt out in the millennium declaration.

The declaration, passed by a UN general assembly resolution in 2000, contains a comprehensive vision of development underpinned by human rights, and is the source document of the MDGs."


[Comment: The passage is generally sensible and useful, but the last part above is not comprehensive enough. 
The MDG framework of eight goals and a 1990 baseline, and 20 of 21 targets, come from the "International Development Goals" first devised by the OECD in 1996.
The main source document for the MDGs can therefore reasonably be said to be "Better World For All" from June 2000.]


"In 2001, when the MDGs were formulated, influential voices were able to convince the international community that democratic freedoms could be relegated in favour of progress on economic indicators."

Development must be about freedom from fear and freedom from want | Mandeep Tiwana
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2013/mar/06/development-freedom-fear-want

 

 

 

"Mandeep, in Johannesburg, what do you think, what's missing there?

MT When the Millennium declaration was brought into being, the world leaders identified six fundamental values that were said to be essential to international relations in the 21st century. These were: freedom, equality, solidarity, tolerance, respect for nature and shared responsibility. Unfortunately, most of these were not reflected in the millennium development goals."

Global development podcast transcript: hopes and fears for 2013
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2012/dec/28/global-development-podcast-2013-transcript




"3.06pm:

The US state department is trying to spark discussion on its DipNote blog with the question: "What concrete steps can we take to help overcome obstacles to meeting the MDGs?"

Flavius in Virginia writes: "The first thing you can do is extend your deadline a thousand years…" …


4.04pm:

The Institute of Development Studies, a leading thinktank on development issues, has issued a report critical of the MDGs. The report says that without promoting equity and tackling the root causes of social exclusion, the goals betray the promise of social justice contained in the Millennium declaration."

Millenium development goals summit day two - live updates
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2010/sep/21/millennium-development-goals-live-updates

 

 

 

More than one strange claim, as described elsewhere in this document:

"the MDGs have ended extreme poverty for more than a billion people since they began in 2000"

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/jul/07/mdg-final-report-eu-strategy-refugees-and-the-value-of-democracy

 

 

 

"This trend has long been a thorn in the side of the United Nations, although they’ve managed to make the story a bit more palatable by shifting the goal posts. When the millennium declaration was signed in 2000, the goal was now to halve the proportion of hungry people rather than the absolute number, which made it easier to achieve. The MDGs also pushed the base year back to 1990..."
Jason Hickel
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2015/jul/17/the-hunger-numbers-are-we-counting-right


 

"At the UN last July, the prime minister showed integrity and leadership when he said: "We did not make the commitment to the millennium development goals only for us to be remembered as the generation that betrayed promises rather than honoured them and undermined trust that promises can ever be kept."

These decisions directly affect whether people live or die, and I urge the British government to take a lead in ensuring these promises are kept. Honour the pledge."

Elton John: A matter of life or death
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2007/sep/22/comment.politics




"The report said...Millennium Development Goals, which aim to improve the world through human development by 2015 and were agreed to by the UN's 191 member states in 2000..." [!]

Unicef report: 1bn children suffering
http://www.theguardian.com/society/2004/dec/09/internationalaidanddevelopment.aids

 

 

 

 

2005:

"the vitally important September UN millennium summit where we must discuss the progress, or lack of progress, in meeting the millennium development goals."  [!]

Full text: Gordon Brown's speech
http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2005/jan/26/development.uk
 



Comment:  The 2005 Summit was set up specifically to discuss progress on the more ambitious Declaration, and other commitments. 

These included the 1996 commitment, more ambitious than the Declaration's, on working to halve the number of hungry people. 

 


6 May 2004
Resolution 58/291

"The General Assembly,

1. Decides to convene in New York in 2005….a high-level plenary meeting of the Assembly with the participation of heads of State and Government…

2. …this major event will undertake a comprehensive review of the progress made in the fulfilment of all the commitments contained in the United Nations Millennium Declaration….and of the progress …of the outcomes and commitments of the major United Nations conferences and summits in the economic, social and related fields, on the basis of a comprehensive report to be submitted by the Secretary-General"

http://www.omdg.org/en/images/a_res_58_291.pdf



 

"We reaffirm our commitment to fight global poverty and to help countries achieve the international development goals of the Millennium Declaration"

Statement by G-7 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors, 2004
http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/js1979.aspx

 

 

 

Mr Brown continued:


"our agenda for the G7 is founded on the realisation that despite the promise of every world leader, every government, every international authority that by 2015 we would achieve primary education for all, a two-thirds fall in infant mortality and a halving of global poverty, at best on present progress in sub Saharan Africa:

· primary education for all will be delivered not as the millennium development goals solemnly promised" [?]

Full text: Gordon Brown's speech
http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2005/jan/26/development.uk

 

 

Mr Brown was referring to a non-existent "solemn promise" on "millennium development goals" in a non-existent UN resolution. 

 

 

 

"Next week the UN meets to review progress on eight "millennium development goals" set in 2000 with a range of aims including eradicating extreme poverty and hunger and getting all children into school.

The millennium declaration provided a bold view of a better world, but we're far from achieving the vision outlined five years ago."

Last chance to save the world's poor
http://www.theguardian.com/news/blog/2005/sep/07/lastchanceto1

 

 

 

"Ten years ago, [!] the millennium development goals held out the prospect for a transformation in the life chances of the global poor. In 2000, every member of the UN agreed the millennium declaration, encompassing eight goals [?]  that included halving extreme poverty and hunger, improving health, bringing primary education to every child and empowering women – all measurable objectives to be delivered by national governments. …

With just five years left to meet the objectives, the MDGs' proponents at this week's UN summit began to look anxiously at progress. …Failure would be not just a billion individual preventable tragedies; it could be a devastating blow to the recognition of the mutual dependence on which the world's future depends. That is why the Guardian, supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has launched a website to provide a base from where progress can be tracked, policy debated and a toolkit of best practice assembled.  
As the British government has learned in the past decade, by their very nature targets can distort outcomes. It is true, too, that progress on individual targets can be less than meets the eye….

The whole idea of globally dictated standards to be achieved in just 15 years is unquestionably flawed.

promises made at summits are lamentably easy to forget on the plane home"

Aid: Making development go | Editorial
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2010/sep/25/millenium-development-goals-guardian-website

 

 

 

"The main aim of the summit is to work out how to progress the Millennium Development Goals - key targets on issues such as education, health and hunger which were agreed at the Millennium Summit in 2000.

You can find out more about the Millennium Goals in this stunning gallery of photographs from around the world, compiled by Guardian Unlimited in conjunction with Panos Pictures."

Poor nations lose out at the UN
http://www.theguardian.com/news/blog/2005/sep/14/agreementreach

 

 

 


"establishment of the millennium development goals (MDGs) by the UN in 2000."
http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2015/sep/25/developing-world-education-failing-business-private-sector-sdgs-teachers



 

"This week's talk point is focused on the UN summit on the millennium development goals.
Ten years ago world leaders signed the Millennium Declaration, promising to meet eight [!] development goals by 2015."

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2010/sep/20/talk-point-un-mdg-summit

 



 

 

"The Guardian links up with Bill Gates for global development website
Guardian Global Development to track goals set out by UN Millennium Declaration
Josh Halliday
Tuesday 14 September 2010 10.56 BST
Last modified on Tuesday 20 May 2014 02.51 BST
Comments
2

The Guardian has teamed up with Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates to launch a global development website, which went live today.
Guardian Global Development will track the goals set out by the United Nations Millennium Declaration, aimed at improving the lives of the world's poorest people.

And it will do so with contributions from the Guardian Data Store hosting data and visualisations from a collection of highly regarded sources.

The new site, in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will host comment from a range of voices and provide special focus to the eight [!] goals set out by the UN in 2000."

"….a Guardian columnist and associate editor, said in an introductory blogpost:

"…These are the greatest promises the world has ever made…."

The Guardian links up with Bill Gates for global development website
http://www.theguardian.com/media/pda/2010/sep/14/guardian-global-development

 

 

Comment: The last sentence cannot be true.  The Declaration's promises are clearly greater than the MDG targets.  They were perhaps in 2010 also more clearly "promises".

 

 

 

 

"the ambitious UN millennium development goals. After 10 years of action…"

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/gallery/2010/sep/10/millennium-development-goals



 

"The main aim of the summit is to work out how to progress the Millennium Development Goals - key targets on issues such as education, health and hunger which were agreed at the Millennium Summit in 2000."

Poor nations lose out at the UN
http://www.theguardian.com/news/blog/2005/sep/14/agreementreach

 

 

"The United Nations' member states adopted the Millennium Development Goals in September 2000."

Foreign aid works – it saves lives
http://www.theguardian.com/business/economics-blog/2012/may/30/foreign-aid-works-saves-lives

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Unicef's data also shows gains made in the last decade: about 90 million more children would have died had mortality rates stayed at their 1990 level (before the 2000 millennium development goals were introduced)"

Female genital mutilation affects a fifth of young girls in sub-Saharan Africa
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2014/jan/30/female-genital-mutilation-affects-girls-africa

 

 

As with other errors, the effect is cumulative:

"The landmark 15-year [!] millennium development goals project"

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/24/the-big-reckoning-how-many-people-did-the-millennium-goals-save


"The scorecard, published with a commentary in the Lancet medical journal on Friday, is both a means of measuring the achievement since 2000 of the MDGs, which had clear targets for bringing down child deaths"

Investment in child health in world's poorest countries saves 34m lives
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/jul/03/investment-child-health-worlds-poorest-countries-saves-34m-lives

 

 

 

"First agreed at the UN MDG summit in September 2000 [!], the eight MDGs set worldwide objectives for reducing extreme poverty… education, empowering women… environmental sustainability by 2015. ….

"Achieving the goals will require…" said Ban. "Between now and 2015, we must make sure that promises made become promises kept. …"

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2011/jul/07/millennium-development-goals-2011-report

 

 

"millennium development goals, which guided aid spending and public policy in the developing world from 2000."

‘Revolution needed’ for world to meet sustainable development goals
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/sep/19/global-poverty-summit-revolutionary-action-sustainable-development-goals

 

 

No-one used the term "millennium development goals" in 2000.

 

 

 

In 2013 leaders recommitted to the 2000-baseline Declaration.  The Guardian wrote of recommitting to the easier MDGs:


"World leaders will this week recommit to meeting the millennium development goals…

"While the MDGs have been credited for galvanising global action to reduce poverty since they were launched in 2000,
[!] and have led to significant achievements (the target to halve the number [!] of people who don't have access to safe [!] drinking water has already been met)...

...Unicef, said that despite the significant progress made in cutting child deaths since 1990, the MDG to reduce child mortality by two-thirds by 2015 would not be achieved until 2028 without greater effort."

UN general assembly 2013: current goals and future priorities on agenda
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2013/sep/23/un-general-assembly-2013-goals

 

 

Information on water targets:

 

The official indicator is not on safe water, so it is hard to see a justification for the Guardian's statement.

Further, there is no 1990 baseline for water in the MDG list. 

So the Guardian appears to be talking about a different target from that officially specified.

The puzzle of why the water target has no baseline seems to be solved by this:

In September 2001, after the Secretary-General produced the MDG framework, an OECD document for which the contact was the representative for the MDG negotiations (with whom on 9 April 2001 this author raised the problem that the statistics looked better if the poorest died) stated that the MDG negotiators had agreed the baseline for water would be 2000.

www.millenniumdeclaration.org/mdgwaterbaseline.pdf

 

 

 

 

"We must quench the thirst of the 663 million [!] people without safe water....

On paper, at least, the goal to halve the number
[!] of people without access to improved water has been met."


[Incorrect.  There is no goal or target on improved water. 
The relevant part of a target is on safe water. 
The indicator's statistics on "improved sources" do not mean the water is improved.]


"But we know this
is because of massive gains [!] in a small number of countries, rather than even gains across the world, and we know that “improved” does not guarantee “safe”."

"There are still 14 countries in the world in which two out of five people are drinking dirty water."

Comment:  Since the official indicator is not on safe water, that may be speculation presented as fact.

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/jul/23/we-must-quench-thirst-663-million-people-without-safe-water





"....according to the UN water global analysis and assessment of sanitation and drinking water report.

The study, which is based on data from 94 countries and 23 aid agencies, said 1.8 billion people use a source of drinking water that is contaminated"

"...Chris Williams, executive director of the UN-based Water Supply & Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC).
...the report said more than 2 billion people have gained access to clean water over the past 25 years, although Williams cautioned that it can be difficult to judge the quality of drinking water."

Water target least on-track among all development goals, UN says
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2014/nov/19/water-sanitation-target-development-goals-un

 

 

 

"Some of the results of the Millennium Development Goals have been dramatic. Clean drinking water is available to two billion more people than in 1990, for instance"

Exclusive: the B Team asks business to drive sustainable inclusive prosperity
20 January 2014
http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/blog/b-team-business-responsibility-inclusive-prosperity

 

 

"The MDG target for access to safe drinking water has been met"

'Race against time' as 50 countries set to miss health-related MDGs
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/datablog/2012/jun/14/race-against-time-health-mdg

 

 

 

.......................................................................................

 

 

 

 

"UN's eight millennium development goals (MDGs) when they were set in 2000 "

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2011/jul/19/gates-foundation-expands-sanitation-programme

 

 

 

"In 2000 the whole world came together to make a solemn promise for 2015, the millennium development goals" [!]

Full text: Gordon Brown's speech
http://www.theguardian.com/society/2004/sep/27/politics.business

 

 

 

"In 2000 189 governments solemnly committed themselves to the Millennium Development Goals" [!]

Aid: quality and quantity | George Gelber
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2010/apr/22/aid-budgets-quantity

 

 

"In 2000, the UN agreed to end gender inequality in education by 2005 as one of its eight millennium development goals"

Charity campaigns for girls' education
http://www.theguardian.com/education/2005/mar/11/schools.uk1

 

 

"The under-5 child mortality rate in Uganda was 160 per 1,000 in 1990. By 2002, it had improved to 141 per 1,000. But Uganda, like most of sub-Saharan Africa, is not on course to meet Millennium Development Goal 4 – the commitment to cut child deaths by two-thirds by 2015."

The biggest killers of under-fives in Katine: poor water and sanitation
http://www.theguardian.com/katine/2008/jul/03/health.water

 

 

 

 

"In 1990, at a previous international junket in Thailand, goals were set for development that were to be hit by the end of the 20th century. Predictably, once the world leaders were back home, nothing was done.

Going backwards

The date for achieving the targets was put back to 2015."

Larry Elliot: Stop the recycled peanuts
http://www.theguardian.com/business/2002/jul/29/debt.famine 

 

 

 

"Nearly nine years ago, at the millennium development summit in New York, the leaders of 180 countries, including all the major affluent nations, promised that by 2015 they would together achieve the millennium development goals."

Peter Singer: Reducing aid during the recession will make matters worse  
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2009/mar/13/recession-aid-poverty-development

 

 

Note: After the Guardian published Peter Singer's article in 2010 stating that the baseline was changed, why did the Guardian not correct older articles and ensure journalists did not make the same mistake again?

 

 

 

 

 

"World leaders begin gathering in New York today for a three-day UN millennium development goals

[easier 1990 baseline]

summit to review ambitious anti-poverty targets adopted in 2000."

[different targets, generally more ambitious]

"the great and the good will be discussing how far the world has gone in meeting the MDG agreed at a UN summit five years ago."

"Despite the obstacles, despite the scepticism, despite the fast-approaching deadline of 2015, the millennium development goals

[generally easier 1990 baseline than targets adopted in 2000]

are achievable," the secretary-general said...

"President Nicolas Sarkozy...
asks donor countries whether they will use the unprecedented economic crisis as a pretext to do less or "will we do our utmost to live up to our promises?"

...
 
Joseph Deiss, the president of the general assembly, called on governments to send "a strong message about our will to achieve" the

[easier]

MDGs by the target date of 2015."

"ODI reports....Ghana outperformed all other countries around the world by reducing hunger by nearly three-quarters, from 34% to 9%, between 1990 and 2004. It will achieve MDG 1 before 2015."

"There is already a wealth of material on our new Global development site, which includes Madeleine Bunting's piece on the eight goals set out in 2000."


Millennium development goals summit: live updates
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2010/sep/20/un-mdg-summit-2010-millennium-development-goals

 

 

 

Comment:  Arguably, the Guardian in 2010 went some way towards the truth in referring to the MDGs as agreed at a UN summit five years ago. 

At the 2005 Summit leaders did mention the MDGs.  But they at the same time reaffirmed the Declaration, which meant that the easier, heavily-publicised MDG targets were not of much importance for their actual commitments.

The outcome document of the 2010 MDG Summit included a commitment to the MDGs. 

But the commitment to the Declaration's more ambitious goals still existed.

In 2013 leaders again reaffirmed the Declaration.

 

The updates on the Guardian web page read: 

"There is already a wealth of material on our new Global development site, which includes Madeleine Bunting's piece on the eight goals set out in 2000. "

"In prepared remarks for the summit, the World Bank president, Robert Zoellick, says that the World Bank has helped to save the lives of 13 million people with its MDG-related funding for the world's poorest since 2000."

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2010/sep/20/un-mdg-summit-2010-millennium-development-goals

 

 

 

"International rankings such as the Institute of Development Studies’ Hunger and Nutrition Commitment Index (Hanci), launched today, already work to foster greater accountability."

Global goals must fight the poor nutrition that kills 3 million children every year | Dolf te Lintelo and Nick Nisbett
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/sep/30/global-goals-must-fight-the-poor-nutrition-that-kills-3-million-children-every-year

 

 

 

"the gathering in New York will be a regular jamboree. There will be mutual backslapping about the progress that has been made over the past 15 years, a good deal of it justified. ….
millennium development goals that set the framework for poverty reduction between 2000 and 2015
[!]
One billion people have been lifted out of poverty and the MDG objective of halving the number living below the global agreed minimum was achieved five years early."

http://www.theguardian.com/business/economics-blog/2015/sep/20/as-un-meets-to-fight-poverty-europe-puts-up-razor-wire-to-keep-poor-out

 

Not clear why Guardian categorical statements on poverty are justified in absence of data on inflation for extremely poor, or estimates of changing needs. 

 

Richard Douthwaite wrote in the Guardian on 14 June 2000:

" "There's a lot of approximation," says Ray Thomas, who teaches statistics at the Open University. "Estimating the income of the bottom 20% [they way D&K have done] is defensible because of the lack of any alternative. But it is not really good enough when the aim of the exercise is to make generalisations about the average income level of the bottom 20%." …

when economic growth takes place, almost everything in society and the economy changes, and even if incomes rise sharply it is impossible to say without a detailed social investigation whether the population of the country concerned becomes better off.

For example, because the growth statistics only measure the monetarised parts of the economy, they ignore those things that people do for themselves. Thus, if a child is cared for by its mother at home, that does not contribute to national income and hence growth. If it is placed with a childminder, it does. A meal in McDonald's adds more to gross national product than a meal cooked at home. Growth can therefore be generated by making people less self-reliant. Whether this indicates they are better off is another question.

Supposing, for example, that when a third world country opened up its economy to the world its agricultural workers were required to become more mechanised. If, as a result, fewer workers were needed in the countryside and they moved to city slums, growth could well be generated by such a change and the incomes of the people who moved could well be higher than they were in their villages.

However, as they would then have to buy all their food and fuel rather than producing it for themselves, and might have to pay rent and fares for the first time, they could easily be much worse off."

 

The observation that incomes can rise without people being better off clearly applies to economists' statements, in the context of world poverty, about "incomes" or what people "live on".  

The "dollar a day" statistics do include some items beyond money transactions.   

 


The UN Statistics Division page for the "dollar a day" indicator  states:

"Comparisons of countries at different levels of development also pose a potential problem because of differences in the relative importance of consumption of nonmarket goods. The local market value of all consumption in kind (including own production, particularly important in underdeveloped rural economies) should be included in total consumption expenditure. Similarly, imputed profit from the production of nonmarket goods should be included in income. This is not always done, though such omissions were a far bigger problem in surveys before the 1980s. Most survey data now include valuations for consumption or income from own production. Nonetheless, valuation methods vary. For example, some surveys use the price in the nearest market, while others use the average farmgate selling price."

http://mdgs.un.org/unsd/mdg/Metadata.aspx

 

This can be seen either immediately or on reflection to be a problem not only for comparing

countries "at different levels of development"

but also for

the same country as its economy changes

– in other words,

a problem for claiming poverty trends. 

 

 

The World Bank methodology paper states that if you live in your own house, the "poverty measure" normally at least takes no account of that benefit:

"imputed rents for owner-occupied housing, imputed services ...; none of these are included in consumption aggregates from standard household surveys."

http://siteresources.worldbank.org/DEC/Resources/DevelopingworldispoorerQJE.pdf

 

This seems to raise a possibility: 

- if what you spend on rent counts towards the "$1.25 a day",

then

if you sell or otherwise lose your house and begin paying rent,

the World Bank may count you as better off or "rising out of poverty"

because you now have more expenditure

– because you are worse off. 

 

There are generally trends towards urbanisation and mobility of labour,

If these result in more people renting, and/or people spending more on accommodation away from home because they need to do so for work, the problem of counting people as better off because they are worse off may be significant. 




 

 

"The millennium development goals (MDGs) - drawn up at the United Nations in 2000, and adopted by 189 countries"

Help where it's needed | International Development Journalism competition
24 November 2008
http://www.theguardian.com/journalismcompetition/help-needed

 

 

 

"the original MDGs, formulated in 2000. [!]
The MDG target on poverty reduction was met five years ahead of schedule. And, more than 2 billion people gained access to clean
[!] drinking water between 1990 [!] and 2010."

Global efforts to tackle poverty and climate change must come together
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/sep/20/global-poverty-climate-change

 

 

 

"In 2012 Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General, United Nations, welcomed progress on a number of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that had been agreed by the world's leaders in 2000. [!]

According to the WHO / UNICEF Joint Monitoring 2012 Program Report, between 1990 and 2010 over two billion people were provided with an improved water source. This was one of the first Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets to be met since they were set thirteen years ago. [!]

However, nearly four in ten people (39%) in sub-Saharan Africa - around 800 million of the world's poorest people- still lack access to safe [!] water…."

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2013/mar/27/were-the-mdgs-worth-it

 

 

 

"Our special focus will be to track the millennium development goals, the greatest promise the world has ever made."

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2010/sep/14/welcome-millennium-development-goals

 

Clearly untrue.  The actual Millennium Declaration promises of 2000, reaffirmed in 2001, 2003, 2005, 2008 and 2013, are greater.


The same applies to this article:


"The millennium development goals set by the UN at the turn of the century [!] made up the most aspirational [!] development programme ever devised…

Targets by 2015 To halve the proportion of people in 1990 who were suffering from hunger. …

Target To reduce by two-thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-five mortality rate"

http://www.theguardian.com/katine/2007/dec/10/internationalaidanddevelopment

 

 

 

"The millennium development goals were established in 2000 to bring focus and ambition to efforts to help the less fortunate. Eight years on, are they working? Larry Elliott reports"

http://the-gaurdian.com/alloutonpoverty.html   

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Minor errors are perhaps not surprising given the UN's misinformation:

"The drop over the last 15 years has been 53%, from 12.7 million in 1990 to an estimated 5.9 million a year now."

Child mortality halved since 1990, but MDG goal missed, says UN report
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/sep/09/child-mortality-halved-since-1990-but-mdg-goal-missed-says-un-report?CMP=twt_a-global-development_b-gdndevelopment

 

 

"The numbers of humans living on less than $1.25 a day will be halved by 2015, a success for a Millennium Development Goal target set in 2000"

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2013/jun/08/food-security-failing-starving-world


 

"Now it's time to send a message to world leaders as they gather in New York for the UN summit on the millennium development goals which starts on Monday.

In the UN preface to the summit, it states:

    "Ten years on from the original adoption of the MDGs at the 2000 Millennium Summit, and despite remarkable progress in some countries, collectively we are falling short in their achievement. "  "

Send a message to the UN millennium development goals summit
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2010/sep/17/send-message-un-millennium-development-goals-summit

 

 

 

"The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were agreed at the United Nations Millennium Summit in September 2000."

The Millennium Development Goals
23 July 2009
http://www.theguardian.com/advocacy/millennium-development-goals



 

"The surprising fact of this year's MDG summit, marking the 10th year of goals with five years left till the target date of 2015, was the widespread social progress that had been made since 2000. Africa, the hot spot of their challenge, is undoubtedly in better shape today than when they were launched."

Millennium development goals in an age of fear and loathing | Jeffery Sachs
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2010/sep/23/millennium-development-goals-fear-loathing

 

 

 

 

"In 2000, every member state of the United Nations signed up to the Millennium Declaration, which committed them to an ambitious set of eight goals [!] by 2015…

Click on the links on the right to learn more about each millennium development goal…"

Eight steps to a better world
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2010/sep/14/background-millennium-development-goals

 

 

 

 

"The international target to halve the prevalence of hunger in the world is within reach, the UN said on Tuesday, after publishing figures suggesting global progress on reducing hunger has been better than previously thought.

According to the new estimates of undernourishment, published in this year's State of food insecurity in the world report, the percentage of hungry people in developing countries has fallen from more than 23% in 1990-92 to less than 15% in 2010-12, bringing the estimated number of hungry people in developing regions to 850 million in 2010-12."

"Earlier this year, the World Bank said its data suggested the MDG to cut extreme poverty had been achieved by 2010. The UN announced in March that the MDG on safe drinking water had also been met in 2010, five years ahead of the 2015 deadline."

MDG target to halve prevalence of hunger within reach, says UN
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/datablog/2012/oct/09/mdg-halve-hungry-people-within-reach

 

 

Comments: 

1. There is more than one international target to halve the prevalence of hunger. 
Only one of them has been agreed by world leaders in 2000, 2005 and 2013.


2. Wrong statistics for both the Millennium pledge and the MDG target, because the statistics are on the wrong population.  
Like the Declaration's pledge, the MDG target says nothing about "developing countries".  
It makes for an easier target, but that is a target invented, not formally or publicly agreed. 


3. There is no 1990 baseline for the water target in the MDG list.


4. The article does make some useful points, even if these are only what the UN agency itself admits:


"The UN hunger indicator, however, which focuses on chronic undernourishment measured by calorie intake, does not capture the effects of short-term price spikes and other economic shocks "unless these are reflected in changes in long-term food consumption patterns", says the report. It also wouldn't capture impacts beyond calorie intake, such as the deterioration in the quality of diet and reduced access to other basic needs such as healthcare or education.

The UN figures set the threshold for hunger as the minimum calories needed for a "sedentary lifestyle". [! – correct, but shocking.] The number of hungry people today could be as high as 1.5 billion (or more than 25% of the world's total), notes the report, if the threshold was set as the minimum needed for "normal activity", or nearly 2.6 billion (nearly 45%) for "intense activity".

To complement the indicator, the UN has released a suite of additional measures to give a more rounded picture of food insecurity and plans to run a global poll to monitor food insecurity based on peoples' experiences. This would "ensure timely monitoring of the difficulties that individuals and households face in accessing food, thus providing a direct basis for food security interventions", says the report."


5. The method by which the FAO revised a worse global trend to a better one, and the adequacy of that revision, is still mysterious after reading the article.  That is not surprising, since the FAO might have to give much detail for someone to assess what they did. 

It would be disappointing if the Guardian had not made clear that its journalists did not understand whether it was reasonable for the FAO suddenly came up with a better trend, if this was the case.

It is not clear that the journalists do understand this – I certainly do not – or whether the Guardian's coverage has been reasonably adequate in terms of accuracy as a result.

It would also be disappointing if the Guardian had not used the information in this article on caveats – and perhaps more importantly for journalistic standards, information from people with other perspectives from official agencies or those with ties to them -  to inform its other reporting on hunger.  I am not clear whether this is so or not. 

 

 

 

The following article of September 2015 misleads and/or directs readers to misleading content relevant to holding governments to account, despite the article's stated focus on accountability:

 

"the MDGs emerged as way of attaching some hard metrics to the commitments made by our leaders in the Millennium Declaration."

Global goals: a chance to hold power accountable and to disrupt | Global Development Professionals Network

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2015/sep/27/global-goals-a-chance-to-hold-power-accountable-and-to-disrupt

 

 

Comment:  There were already "hard metrics" in the Millennium Declaration – to the extent that the concepts made sense and statistics were available - such as reducing under-five child deaths and maternal deaths from "current rates". 

Of course, they are not "hard metrics" if the UN or others are easily able to, or do, misrepresent them.

 

 

The article contributes to a cumulative impression that nothing in the MDG framework detracted from the actual pledges in the Declaration. 


The article links to "Project Everyone"
which produced and directed the public towards misleading material.

Its video "No point Going Halfway" contains unsubstantiated claims.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DdLqiTvFwJk

 

 

 

Project Everyone video


The MDGs were not "issued in 2000
" - which gives or tends to confirm a wrong impression about what leaders actually pledged.

The video's statement about a number of people gaining clean water has no firm basis.

The official UNICEF/WHO research -  unlike other information supplied to the public by UN staff - states clearly that the researchers do not estimate water safety.

The video's statement

"In 15 years extreme poverty has actually been halved"

has no firm basis
, since the UN do not estimate needs or inflation faced by extremely poor people.

 


For example, due to the lack of reliable estimates of water quality, it is not possible to say whether people's basic needs – and therefore any "absolute poverty" targets  -  are met.

 

 

………………………………………..

 

 

An article of September 2015 writes of "accountability" without mentioning the actual pledges leaders reaffirmed in 2013:

 

"Global goals: Targets without accountability are not worth having "

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2015/sep/24/david-miliband-sustainable-development-goals-un-new-york-irc

 

The Guardian article again encourages people to hold governments to account for the wrong targets, rather than what was actually adopted in 2000 and reaffirmed in 2013:

"The accountability question is especially pertinent as world leaders look to build upon the progress of the millennium development goals, which were adopted in 2000 and have led to significant gains in expanding access to education, reducing hunger and improving healthcare in the developing world. Humanitarian advocates point out that the development targets from 15 years ago"….

The article also states,

"grassroots organisations and nonprofits are fixated on one word: accountability."

 

 



The Guardian stated on 7 September 2015:

"Don’t be afraid to talk about corruption"

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2015/sep/07/how-to-communicate-the-sustainable-development-goals-to-the-public

 

 

The misrepresentation by UN agencies and others of Millennium Declaration pledges, and of progress reports, is corrupt, or incompetent, or both.

 

millenniumdeclaration.org/millenniumscandal.htm

 

 

The article

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2015/sep/21/sustainable-development-goals-sdgs-summit-new-york-guide

contains a link from the words

" SDGs will replace the millennium development goals "

 to a UN document with a misleading statement:

"(MDGs), which were adopted in 2000 and guided development action for the last 15 years."