The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were established following the UN Millennium Declaration, which was approved by the UN General Assembly in September 2000. Described by some as the “world's biggest promise," they set out a series of time-bound targets to be achieved by the international community by 2015, including a halving of extreme poverty, a two-third reduction in child mortality, a three-quarter reduction in maternal mortality, and universal primary education. The MDGs were, however, often criticized for having a "blind spot" with regard to inequality and social injustice. Worse, they may even have contributed to entrenched inequalities through perverse incentives. As some have argued, in order to achieve progress toward the MDG targets at the national level, governments focused their attention on the "easy to reach" populations and ignored more marginalized, vulnerable groups. The aim of this essay is to examine the extent to which this widespread criticism has been successfully addressed in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), approved by the UN General Assembly in September 2015.
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