Measuring human progress is a messy, complicated effort. The Millennium Development Goals, or MDGs, are an effort to bring some standardization to that process, but the 8 globally agreed goals are viewed by some as a construct that handicaps the poorer countries into a race where they started a lap behind many other nations.
It's 10 years since the goals were agreed and 2010 has been designated the 'Year of the MDGs' by the UN and its partners. If all this helps feed hungry families, educate more kids and increase the distribution of antiretroviral drugs, I'm all for it. Good thing I feel that way, since I was working with the team that launched the Global Monitoring Report 2010: The MDGs After the Crisis on April 23.
Yet beyond the goals, targets and exhortations, as well as useful forecasts of extreme poverty rates in 2015, I wonder about the elephant in the room: population growth.
Seems to me that the inexorable crowding of the planet and the high birth rates in poor countries is under-studied and even ignored when in reality demographics will shape our future, more people will gobble our resources and our sheer numbers will play a huge role in whether we attain the MDGs. So, I urge readers to both check out the Global Monitoring Report, but also to check out the commentary by Robert Walker, Executive Vice President of the Population Institute on Huffington Post.
It may be politically incorrect, but unless we lift the taboo of talking about how to tackle population growth, I fear our laudable efforts at poverty reduction and advancing the human condition won't get too far.
- United Nations MDGs
- Global Monitoring Report
- Photos from Press Conference
- Press Release | Video | Slideshow (wmv)