Posted on September 26, 2013 · Posted in Frank Friday, P-cubed News

If it’s late September in New York, and you’re caught in traffic gridlock nightmare, there’s probably only one good reason. The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) is on, and world leaders have flown in to talk about the most pressing issues of the day. This year, the focus has been on Syria, chemical weapons, and whether or not President Obama, and his counterpart in Iran, President Rouhani, would “bump” into each other in the hallway to shake hands. However, behind the frenetic energy that surrounds the annual UNGA for the short period of time at this time of the year, there are stark reminders that continued leadership and financial commitments are needed to meet the 8 Millennium Development Goals that have less than 1000 days left until their target date in 2015.

The MDGs set clear targets in 2000 to reduce extreme poverty and hunger, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality and the empowerment of women, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other communicable diseases, ensure environmental sustainability, and develop global partnerships.

The results so far are mixed. The Millennium Development Goals 2013 Report shows that area that has seen the most improvement is health, especially in efforts to combat malaria and TB. Between 2000 and 20101, malaria-related deaths fell by more than 25% globally, and 51 million tuberculosis patients were successfully treated between 1995 and 2011. Although 34 million people were living with HIV in 2011, new infections are declining. There are about 700 million fewer people living in extreme poverty – less than $1.25 a day – since 1990, and over 2 billion people gained access to clean water during this same period.

But, many challenges remain. Hunger is one of the main issues. One in eight people in the world today remain chronically undernourished. Carbon emissions today are more than 45% higher than the level in 1990. Maternal deaths, although falling, still needs urgent attention as do other issues like primary education for children and women’s leadership.

Addressing these entrenched issues requires political will and strong partnerships between governments, civil society, and corporations, and other stakeholders. The 2015 deadline for the MDGs will soon expire. But even after that date, critical work lies ahead for United Nations in order to build prosperity, greater equality, and peace globally.

Tell us what you think are some of the most important global issues facing us today and what role the United Nations can play? What role do students and other youth play in advancing a global agenda for greater social justice? What work do you do in your own communities that might align with some of the Millennium Development Goals?

Share your ideas on good policy solutions. Follow me on Twitter: @DrSVenkateswar and engage with the Public Policy Program on social media: Like P-Cubed at Roosevelt House on Facebook and follow @PcubedatRH on twitter.

Stay well!

With my best wishes,