The Millennium Development Goals form an ambitious agenda for reducing poverty and improving lives formulated by world leaders at the United Nations Millennium Summit in September 2000. The idea of identifying and setting international development goals for implementation across nations did not start with the MDGs. The UN had been doing it since the first “Development Decade” in the 1960s. However, no comprehensive process and mechanism had been put in place to monitoring progress in achieving these goals at the country level. Instead, the mechanisms of accountability were weak and scattered into different commissions and bodies that do not communicate with each other.
During the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) session on the Integrated Follow-up of Major UN Conferences and Summits held in May 1998, the President of the Council, Ambassador Juan Somavía, reported that
“… in order to effectively monitor progress in the implementation of conferences at the country level, there is an urgent need for the multilateral system to develop a coherent set of basic indicators, as well as the need to strengthen the capacity of the UN system and of countries to collect and analyze statistics.”
During the Millennium Summit held in New York in September 2000, all 189 UN Member States adopted the Millennium Declaration, which contained a core group of goals and targets. The Millennium Declaration updates many of the development goals originally set (and not met) for the year 2000 and reformulates them for the year 2015. It also gives UN endorsement to the goal of “halving extreme poverty,” originally formulated by the OECD,” by the same date.