The Millennium Development Goals Report 2014

United Nations


This report examines the latest progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Fourteen years ago, the Millennium Declaration articulated a bold vision and established concrete targets for improving the existence of many and for saving the lives of those threatened by disease and hunger. There has been important progress across all goals, with some targets already having been met well ahead of the 2015 deadline.

Key findings:

  • Global poverty has been halved five years ahead of the 2015 timeframe. In 1990, almost half of the population in developing regions lived on less than $1.25 a day. This rate dropped to 22 per cent by 2010, reducing the number of people living in extreme poverty by 700 million.
  • Substantial gains have been made towards reaching gender parity in school enrolment at all levels of education. Ninety per cent of children in developing regions now enjoy primary education, and disparities between boys and girls in enrolment have narrowed. By 2012, all developing regions have achieved, or were close to achieving, gender parity in primary education.
  • Remarkable gains have been made in the fight against malaria and tuberculosis, along with improvements in all health indicators. Between 2000 and 2012, an estimated 3.3 million deaths from malaria were averted due to the substantial expansion of malaria interventions and efforts to fight tuberculosis have saved an estimated 22 million lives worldwide since 1995.
  • Antiretroviral therapy is saving lives and must be expanded further. Access to antiretroviral therapy (ART) for HIV-infected people has been increasing dramatically, with a total of 9.5 million people in developing regions receiving treatment in 2012.
  • The likelihood of a child dying before age five has been nearly cut in half over the last two decades. Worldwide, the mortality rate for children under age five dropped almost 50 per cent, from 90 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 48 in 2012. Preventable diseases are the main causes of under-five deaths and appropriate actions need to be taken to address them.
  • The proportion of people who lack access to improved sources of water has been halved five years ahead of schedule. In 2012, 89 per cent of the world’s population had access to an improved source, up from 76 per cent in 1990. Access to an improved drinking water source became a reality for 2.3 billion people.
  • Much more needs to be done to reduce maternal mortality. Globally, the maternal mortality ratio dropped by 45 percent between 1990 and 2013, from 380 to 210 deaths per 100,000 live births. Worldwide, almost 300,000 women died in 2013 from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Maternal death is mostly preventable and much more needs to be done to provide care to pregnant women.
  • Major trends that threaten environmental sustainability continue to exist. Global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) continued their upward trend and those in 2011 were almost 50 per cent above their 1990 level. Millions of hectares of forest are lost every year, many species are being driven closer to extinction and renewable water resources are becoming scarcer.
  • Development assistance rebounded, the trading system stayed favourable for developing countries and their debt burden remained low. Official development assistance stood at $134.8 billion in 2013, the highest level ever recorded, after two years of declining volumes. However, aid is shifting away from the poorest countries. Eighty per cent of imports from developing countries entered developed countries duty-free and tariffs remained at an all-time low. The debt burden of developing countries remained stable at about 3 per cent of export revenue.
  • The political participation of women has continued to increase. In January 2014, 46 countries boasted having more than 30 per cent female members of parliament in at least one chamber. More women are now holding some of the so-called “hard” ministerial portfolios—such as Defence, Foreign Affairs and the Environment.
  • Over a quarter of the world’s population has gained access to improved sanitation since 1990. Between 1990 and 2012, almost 2 billion people gained access to an improved sanitation facility. However, in 2012, 2.5 billion people did not use an improved sanitation facility and 1 billion people still resorted to open defecation.


United Nations (2014). The Millennium Development Goals Report 2014. New York: UN.