Why the Millennium Development Goals are unique in many powerful ways:

They represent a compact between all the world’s major economic players. Poorer countries pledged to improve policies and governance and increase accountability to their own citizens; wealthy countries pledged to provide the resources. Since the commitment to achieve the goals comes from the highest political levels, for the first time, entire governments are committed to their achievement—including the trade and finance ministers who hold the world’s purse strings. And major international financial institutions—the World Bank, the IMF, the regional development banks, and increasingly, the membership of the World Trade Organization—have made explicit that they will be accountable for achieving the Goals, too.

The world has never before seen so much prosperity. The hundreds of billions that are being spent in Iraq have put things in perspective. We might not need more than about $50 billion of additional aid per year to meet the Goals. About $900 billion was invested in arms by governments in 2003 alone; and rich countries grant large support to their domestic agricultural producers, totaling $300 billion each year. Financially, in the grand scheme of things, we’re talking about relatively small change.

Performance against the goals is being monitored. These are not just lofty statements of intent; precise monitoring mechanisms have been put in place, in the form of national Millennium Goals reports and the Secretary General’s reports to the General Assembly. Civil society organizations around the world are creating their own set of reports as well, to ensure that governments are held to the highest possible standards of performance. Over 60 country reports have already been produced at the national level.

The Goals are clearly achievable. Some have even argued that they are not in fact millennium, but ‘minimum’ development goals. We believe that to set the bar any lower than this would be morally unacceptable. Individual Goals have already been achieved by many countries in the space of only 10-15 years.