MDG 7 - Ensure Environmental Sustainability


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The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are eight international development goals that all 192 United Nations member states and at least 23 international organizations have agreed to achieve by the year 2015. They are not legally binding but governments have politically committed to achieving them.


MDG 7 Targets

  • Target 7a: Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes; reverse loss of environmental resources
  • Target 7b: Reduce biodiversity loss, achieving, by 2010, a significant reduction in the rate of loss
    • Target 7a and 7b Indicators:
      • 7.1 Proportion of land area covered by forest
      • 7.2 CO2 emissions, total, per capita and per $1 GDP (PPP)
      • 7.3 Consumption of ozone-depleting substances
      • 7.4 Proportion of fish stocks within safe biological limits
      • 7.5 Proportion of total water resources used
      • 7.6 Proportion of terrestrial and marine areas protected
      • 7.7 Proportion of species threatened with extinction
  • Target 7c: Reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation
      • 7.8 Proportion of population using an improved drinking water source
      • 7.9 Proportion of population using an improved sanitation facility
  • Target 7d: Achieve significant improvement in lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers, by 2020
      • 7.10 Proportion of urban population living in slums

The indicators for the Commonwealth of Independent States can be found here

Progress on the WatSan Target: Where do we stand?

  • The world is on track to meet the drinking water target, though much remains to be done in some regions
  • Accelerated and targeted efforts are needed to bring drinking water to all rural households
  • Safe water supply remains a challenge in many parts of the world
  • With half the population of developing regions without sanitation, the 2015 target appears to be out of reach
  • Disparities in urban and rural sanitation coverage remain daunting
  • Improvements in sanitation are bypassing the poor
  • Some 1.7 billion people have gained access to safe drinking water since 1990. Yet 884 million people worldwide still do not have access to safe drinking water and 2.6 billion people lack access to basic sanitation services, such as toilets or latrines.

The world will meet or even exceed the drinking water target by 2015 if current trends continue

By that time, an estimated 86 per cent of the population in developing regions will have gained access to improved sources of drinking water, up from 71 per cent in 1990. Four regions — Northern Africa, Latin America and Caribbean, Eastern Asia and Southeastern Asia — have already met the target. Even though progress was made primarily in rural areas, those areas still remain at a disadvantage. Globally, eight out of 10 people who are without access to an improved drinking water source live in rural areas.

With half the population of developing regions lacking basic sanitation, the 2015 target appears to be out of reach

At the current rate of progress, the world will miss the target of halving the proportion of people without access to basic sanitation, such as toilets or latrines. In 2008, an estimated 2.6 billion people around the world lacked access to improved sanitation. If the trend continues, that number will grow to 2.7 billion by 2015. Wide disparities also exist by region, with sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia continuing to lag behind. Recent data show 69 per cent and 64 per cent of their populations still lack access, respectively. And the gap between rural and urban areas remains huge, especially in Southern Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and Oceania.

What has worked?

1. Installing water systems in Brazil, Burkina Faso and Sri Lanka

Since 2002, Brazil has been implementing the One Million Rural Cisterns Programme to bring clean water to about 36 million people in semi-arid North-Eastern Brazil. In Burkina Faso, a water tower and pipe system were installed for 1,300 villagers in 2006, resulting in 20 litres of affordable clean water a day being available to each household. And in Sri Lanka, the introduction of rainwater harvesting tanks has enabled households to save on average $31 per month.

2. Expanding good sanitation practices in Kyrgyzstan In Kyrgyzstan, a community-based project focused on promoting good sanitation and hygiene practices in the rural north, where almost a third of children were infected with one or more intestinal parasites. Improved water supply to schools and hygienic education contributed to a decline in the incidence of lambliasis by 76 per cent in the villages covered by the project.

MDG 7 Committments made at the MDG Summit in New York 20-22 September 2010

We commit ourselves to accelerating progress in order to achieve Millennium Development Goal 7, including through:

(a) Pursuing sustainable development, in accordance with the principles contained in the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development,[1] including the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, and taking into account the respective capabilities of countries, with a view to effectively implementing the outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development and addressing new and emerging challenges;

(b) Pursuing environmental sustainability through nationally owned comprehensive and coherent planning frameworks and the adoption of national legislation, in accordance with national circumstances and the appropriate implementation capacity; supporting developing countries in this regard in building capacity and providing financial resources; and promoting the development and dissemination of appropriate, affordable and sustainable technology and the transfer of such technologies on mutually agreed terms;

(c) Supporting the implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa,[2] through joint action of the international community in addressing the causes and poverty impacts of desertification and land degradation in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas, consistent with articles 1, 2 and 3 of the Convention, taking into account the ten-year strategic plan and framework to enhance the implementation of the Convention (2008-2018), supporting the exchange of best practices and lessons learned, including from regional cooperation, and the mobilization of adequate and predictable financial resources;

(d) Strengthening political commitment and action at all levels to effectively implement the global objectives on forest and the sustainable forest management of all types of forests in order to reduce the loss of forest cover and improve the livelihoods of those that depend on forests through the development of a comprehensive and more effective approach to financing activities,[3] involvement of local and indigenous communities and other relevant stakeholders, promoting good governance at the national and international levels, and enhancing international cooperation to address the threats posed by illicit activities;

(e) Continuing to pursue more efficient and coherent implementation of the three objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity[4] and addressing implementation gaps, where appropriate, including through the fulfilment of commitments significantly reducing the rate of loss of biodiversity, including through preserving and maintaining knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities, and continuing ongoing efforts towards elaborating and negotiating an international regime on access and benefit sharing. We look forward to the successful outcome of the tenth meeting of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, to be held from 18 to 29 October in Nagoya, Japan;

(f) Supporting the implementation of national policies and strategies to combine, as appropriate, the increased use of new and renewable energy sources and low emission technologies, the more efficient use of energy, greater reliance on advanced energy technologies, including cleaner fossil fuel technologies, and the sustainable use of traditional energy resources, as well as promoting access to modern, reliable, affordable and sustainable energy services and enhancing national capacities to meet the growing energy demand, as appropriate, supported by international cooperation in this field and by the promotion of the development and dissemination of appropriate, affordable and sustainable energy technologies and the transfer of such technologies on mutually agreed terms;

(g) Maintaining that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is the primary international, intergovernmental forum for negotiating the global response to climate change, calling upon States to take urgent global action to address climate change in accordance with the principles identified in the Convention, including the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, and looking forward to a successful and ambitious outcome of the sixteenth session of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention and the sixth session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol, to be held from 29 November to 10 December 2010 in Cancun, Mexico;

(h) Continuing to increase sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation through prioritizing integrated water and sanitation strategies, which include the restoration, upgrading and maintenance of infrastructure, including water pipelines and sewage networks, as well as promoting integrated water management in national planning and exploring innovative ways of improving the tracking and monitoring of water quality;

(i) Promoting integrated waste management systems, in partnership with all relevant stakeholders and with international financial and technological support, as appropriate;

(j) Redoubling efforts to close the sanitation gap through scaled-up ground-level action, supported by strong political will and increased community participation, in accordance with national development strategies, promoting the mobilization and provision of adequate financial and technological resources, technical know-how and capacity-building for developing countries in order to increase the coverage of basic sanitation, especially for the poor, and noting in this regard the global effort to realize “Sustainable sanitation: the five-year drive to 2015”;

(k) Working towards cities without slums, beyond current targets, through reducing slum populations and improving the lives of slum-dwellers, with adequate support of the international community, by prioritizing national urban planning strategies with the participation of all stakeholders, promoting equal access for people living in slums to public services, including health, education, energy, water and sanitation and adequate shelter, and promoting sustainable urban and rural development;

(l) Taking measures to ensure the sustainable management of marine biodiversity and ecosystems, including fish stocks, which contribute to food security and hunger and poverty eradication efforts, including through ecosystem approaches to ocean management, and to address the adverse effects of climate change on the marine environment and marine biodiversity;

(m) Supporting the efforts of countries to preserve fragile mountain ecosystems as an important source of fresh water and as repositories of rich biological diversity, with a view to achieving sustainable development and eradicating poverty;

(n) Promoting sustainable consumption and production patterns, in accordance with the Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (“Johannesburg Plan of Implementation”);

(o) Fostering a greater level of coordination among national and local institutions responsible for economic and social development and environmental protection, including with respect to the promotion of investments relevant for sustainable development;

(p) Working towards a successful United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012.


See also

External Resources

MDG Monitor for Goal 7

MDG Summit Outcome Document - Keeping the promise, united to achieve the MDGs


 MDG Summit Outcome Document.pdf

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