Caribbean achieves key Millennium Development Goals – ECLAC

 Two weeks before the 193 member-states of the United Nations approve the sustainable development agenda for 2030 in New York, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) says Latin America and the Caribbean have achieved several key objectives of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

“Although these goals were formulated in a limited way, their results are the starting point to address new Sustainable Development Goals that will be more ambitious, comprehensive and universal,” said ECLAC in a new report, entitled “ Latin America and the Caribbean: looking ahead after the Millennium Development Goals”.

From 1990 to 2015, ECLAC said countries in the region have made “important progress” on reducing extreme poverty, hunger and infant mortality, incorporating girls into education, and ensuring access to safe drinking water.

But ECLAC urged them to “make greater efforts” to reduce maternal deaths and greenhouse gas emissions, among other indicators.

“The new 2030 agenda represents an advancement versus the MDGs, moving to a more holistic, collaborative, interdisciplinary and universal view whereby development must be oriented towards closing structural gaps with environmental sustainability, to achieve greater equality,” said ECLAC’s Executive Secretary, Alicia Bárcena, about the report.

ECLAC noted that the MDGs were approved in September 2000 by 189 United Nations member-states, constituting the roadmap for development during the last 15 years.

According to the report, the region achieved the first MDG, oriented towards eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, “since, between 1990 and 2015, it managed to more than halve the proportion of people whose income is below one dollar.”

The report says 4.6 percent of people lived with less than US$1.25 dollar per day in 2011, compared with 12.6 percent in 1990.

The proportion of people suffering from hunger fell from 14.7 percent in the two-year period of 1990-1992 to a projected 5.5 percent in 2014-2016, the report says.

Additionally, today’s figures for labor participation and unemployment are at their best levels in 20 years.

Regarding the second MDG, devoted to achieving universal primary education, the report says the net enrollment rate at that level in Latin America and the Caribbean is estimated at 93 percent as of 2015.

The level of illiteracy among people from 15 to 24 years of age in the entire region decreased to 1.7 percent in 2015 from 6.9 percent in 1990, “although functional illiteracy continues to be a matter of concern,” the report says.

On the third MDG – promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment – the report says the region achieved the goal of guaranteeing girls’ access to primary, secondary and superior education, “although this has not translated into an equivalent improvement of their situation in the labor market, where they participate less and receive lower salaries than their male colleagues.”

In the political sphere, the proportion of women in national parliaments grew to 27.4 percent in 2015, close to the threshold established for achieving that target (30 percent), the report says.

Latin America and the Caribbean also achieved the fourth MDG, since it reduced by two- thirds the deaths of children under 5, the report says.

Those deaths fell from 54 to 18 per 1,000 live births between 1990 and 2013, “although in that latter year there were still 196,000 deaths among children of this age group,” the report says.

Meanwhile, the region managed to almost completely eradicate measles at the beginning of the 2000s. In 2013, most countries had achieved immunization against that disease of more than 90 percent of infants under 1 year old, the report says.

In the framework of the fifth MDG, which aimed to improve maternal health, the report says the region still shows high levels of maternal mortality and adolescent births.

In 2013, there were 85 maternal deaths for every 100,000 live births in Latin America and the Caribbean, which indicates a 39 percent reduction versus 1990, far from the proposed 75 percent, the report says.

In addition, in the region, it says there are 75.5 live births among mothers aged 15-19 for every 1,000 women of that age group.

“That said, there has been progress made in family planning, prenatal care and births attended by skilled health personnel,” the report says.

On the sixth MDG – combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases – the report says the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Latin America is lower than the global average (0.4 percent), but this figure rises to 1.1 percent in the Caribbean, the second highest rate after sub-Saharan Africa.

All in all, the report says Latin America and the Caribbean is the region of the world that has the greatest coverage of antiretroviral treatment.

In addition, the region has advanced in the control of preventable infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis and malaria, according to the report.

With regard to the seventh MDG, relating to ensuring environmental sustainability, Latin America and the Caribbean emitted 7.7 tons of greenhouse gases per capita in 2012, above the global average of 6.7 tons, the report says.

However, the region reduced the consumption of substances that deplete the ozone layer and increased protected terrestrial and marine areas – from 4.9 percent in 1990 to 13.3 percent in 2014, the report says.

The region also achieved the target of sustainable access to safe drinking water (95 percent in 2015) and nearly achieved the one referred to the use of improved sanitation facilities, the report says.

Within the eighth MDG, related to the creation of a global partnership for development, the report emphasizes that Latin America and the Caribbean went from receiving 14 percent to 7.6 percent of total global official development assistance (ODA) between 1960 and the current decade.

The report says this can be linked to the trend among donors to give priority to low-income countries, “to the detriment of middle-income nations, which are a majority in this region.”

Presently, ODA flows to Latin America and the Caribbean are smaller than foreign direct investment (FDI), remittances and portfolio flows, “but they continue to be important for several smaller lower-income countries,” the report says.

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