The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are a set of development
targets agreed by the international community, which center on
halving poverty and improving the welfare of the world’s poorest by
2015. The IMF contributes to this effort through its advice,
technical assistance, and lending to countries, as well as its role
in mobilizing donor support. Together with the World Bank, it
assesses progress toward the MDGs through an annual Global
The eight goals
In September 2000, at the United Nations Millennium Summit, world
leaders agreed to eight specific and measurable development goals—now
Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)—to be achieved by 2015. The
first seven goals focus on eradicating extreme poverty and hunger;
achieving universal primary education; promoting gender equality and
empowering women; reducing child mortality; improving maternal health;
combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; and ensuring
environmental sustainability. The eighth goal calls for the creation of
a global partnership for development, with targets for aid, trade, and
debt relief. A significant step toward meeting the MDGs was taken in
Monterrey, Mexico, in March 2002, when the international community
adopted a two-pillar strategy, whereby sustained pursuit of sound
policies and good governance by the low-income countries is to be
matched by larger and more effective international support, as well as
an enabling international economic and trade environment for
Achieving the MDGs
There are many
ways in which the IMF helps poor countries achieve the sustained
high levels of growth that establish the basis for poverty
reduction—including through policy advice, technical assistance,
financial support, and debt relief. It also tries to ensure that
developed countries’ policies are supportive of low-income countries’
development efforts, by advocating for increased foreign aid, the
opening of markets to developing countries’ exports, and the maintenance
of a healthy, enabling international economic climate.
As part of these efforts, the IMF rapidly and substantially increased
its financing to low-income countries during the global crisis, thereby
helping these countries implement a counter-cyclical response and, in
particular, protect social and other priority spending. The IMF also
made its concessional financing instruments more flexible to better meet
the needs of its
low-income-country members. The reform also provides exceptional
interest relief (for example, zero interest payments on concessional
loans through end-2014) and permanently higher concessionality.
The pressures to meet the MDGs by 2015 have further focused the IMF’s
efforts on helping countries assess the macroeconomic consequences of
scaling up both their own policy efforts and external financial support.
In this context, the IMF encourages countries to develop and analyze
alternative frameworks for achieving the MDGs, and to make these
poverty reduction strategies. Typically, one scenario might include
a realistic projection that assumes good policy implementation and
continued donor support at a level based on current trends and
expectations. Another more ambitious projection would take account of
absorptive and administrative constraints and try to identify policies
to alleviate them so as to put the country on a higher growth path. This
can help countries use the MDGs to design their policies, and guide
donors in assessing the capacity of a country to absorb increased levels
of aid and put it to effective use.
Increasingly, it is recognized that macroeconomic stability and
growth depend heavily on structural and institutional factors.
Therefore, in contributing to the achievement of the MDGs, the Fund
works closely with partner agencies, especially the World Bank, but also
other multilateral and bilateral providers of aid and financing.
Global Monitoring Report (GMR) is anGlobal Monitoring
Report annual report that aims to assess how the world is doing in
implementing the policies and actions needed to achieve the MDGs and
related outcomes. It is produced jointly by the World Bank and the IMF,
in collaboration with other international partners. The GMR outlines
prospects for the attainment of the MDGs and assesses the support of the
2013 Global Monitoring Report, the tenth in the
annual series,confirms that the important goal of cutting extreme income
poverty in half by 2015 was met ahead of time in 2010. The goal of
halving the proportion of people without access to clean water, and the
goal of achieving a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100
million slum dwellers by 2020 – were also achieved ahead of time in
2010. The goal of eliminating gender disparity in primary education was
accomplished in 2010.There has been global progress on eliminating
gender disparity both in primary and secondary education. Similarly,
clear progress has been made toward the goals of achieving universal
primary education. However, overall global progress on health-related
targets has been less than stellar, with many countries likely to miss
the MDGs on child and maternal mortality, and on access to sanitation.
Accelerating progress towards the attainment of these MDGs is not only
desirable, but would also generate positive spillovers.
Moreover, the 2013 GMR shows that there are rural-urban disparities
in development, and as urban centers continue their inexorable growth
over the next two decades, an integrated strategy to better manage the
planning-connecting-financing formula of urbanization can help better
achieve the MDGs.
Regional progress towards achieving the MDGs is more diverse. At one
end of the spectrum, the East Asia and Pacific region is on target to
meet most of the MDGs except for the goal of 100 percent primary
completion rate. At the other end, Sub-Saharan Africa is off target on
most of its MDGs. However, it should be noted that given their difficult
starting points, delays in policy reforms and growths, and fragile
conditions, these countries have made significant progress in absolute
terms. This is particularly true of those MDGs that the world as a whole
is struggling to meet. Drawing on domestic efforts and international
support, these countries need to accelerate growth and buttress a
virtuous circle of development through good economic policies, stronger
institutions, and improved infrastructure.
The post-2015 development agenda
In the context of defining a vision for the post-2015 UN development
agenda, the UN Secretary General, in 2012, established a High Level
Panel of Eminent Persons (HLP) to provide independent input from the
perspective of experienced political leaders, private sector
representatives, academia and other key stakeholders from across the
world. Their report is expected to be submitted by the end of May 2013.
At the same time, the UN General Assembly has formed an Open Working
Group of member countries to discuss and propose new sustainable
development goals (SDGs), which shall complete its work by September
2014. Furthermore, a UN System Task Team, in which the IMF is a member,
was set up to provide analytical inputs and technical support to these
processes. In June 2012, the Task Team provided a
report to the UN, which highlighted fundamental principles that
should underpin the post-2015 agenda and proposed a two-step road map of
consultations and consensus-building.
Accelerating Progress toward the MDGs: A
Sustain and broaden the growth momentum
• Strong and inclusive growth must be at the center of the
strategy to achieve the MDGs.
• Need for concerted efforts to spur growth in lagging countries
in Africa and fragile states.
• Sound macro, a conducive private investment climate (regulatory
environment, infrastructure), and good governance are key
ingredients of strong and inclusive growth.
• Need for careful monitoring of and responsiveness to risks to
developing country growth arising from ongoing tensions in
international financial markets and high oil and food prices.
Achieve better results in human development
• Increased public spending on education and health is not the
sole answer; quality and equity of spending are equally important.
• Policies and interventions must factor in strong linkages
between health and education outcomes and child nutrition and
environmental risk factors—water and sanitation, pollution, climate
Integrate development and environmental sustainability
• Environmental sustainability must be integrated into core
development work, maximizing synergies.
• For natural resource-dependent countries, sound resource
management is critical for sustainable growth.
• Developing countries will suffer most from climate change and
are least able to adapt. For them the best way to adapt is to
• Mitigation of carbon emissions will require financing and
technology transfer to developing countries. Such support should not
divert resources from other development programs.
Scale up aid and increase its effectiveness
• Notwithstanding current domestic fiscal pressures, traditional
donors must expedite aid delivery in line with commitments,
particularly to low-income and fragile countries that offer
promising scaling-up opportunities.
• The changing aid architecture promises more resources and
innovation but also poses new challenges for aid effectiveness and
coherence across an increasingly diverse donor community.
Harness trade for strong, inclusive, and sustainable
• Conclude the Doha trade round expeditiously.
• Aid-for-trade to strengthen trade logistics, supported by services
liberalization, is important for poor countries’ competitiveness and
ability to benefit from trade opportunities.
Leverage IFI support for inclusive and sustainable
• IFIs’ declining relative financing role does not imply less
relevance. Their impact through leverage remains key in achieving
collective action on development (MDGs and related outcomes) and the
increasingly important G/RPGs such as climate change.
• Adaptation of strategy to increasing client differentiation and
global change initiated by several IFIs is important and timely.