The great debate at the United Nations between now and the end of 2015 is what will replace the Millennium Development Goals when they expire. The process of looking ahead to the 2015-2030 period is complex — and it’s sucking up a great deal of attention and time (and rightfully so!). But the MDGs still have over a year until they are due and there is legitimate concern that all this focus on what will replace the MDGs is at the expense of devoting attention and resources to actually achieving the currently existing MDGs over the next 450 days or so.

Enter the MDG Advocates.

This is a group of “eminent persons” (think: heads of state, NGO leaders, philanthropists and celebrities) formed by Ban Ki Moon in 2010 to help keep focus on reaching the MDGs even as diplomats debate what will replace them. On the sidelines of the UN General Assembly last week, the MDG Advocates released their most recent report. This includes essays from 37 world leaders and experts about ways to accelerate to the December 31, 2015 finish line. Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway, and Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda kick off the report. Other contributors include Goodluck Jonathan, Mala Yousafzai, Graca Machel, and several other heads of state and notable personalities.

The contributor list alone makes this a must-read document for the international development set. But the online version of the report also contains very helpful data visualization tools that allow users to track progress on the MDGs in discrete areas. For example, here’s how child mortality rates have plummeted in sub-saharan Africa since the advent of MDG five, which calls for a two thirds reduction in overall child mortality.

MDG 5

 

I recommend you play with the data visualization tools, check out the report, and be inspired to keep your eye on the MDG ball even as the world debates what will replace them. A lot can be done in a year.

 

Image creditScenes from Kenya during a United Nations Foundation’s [email protected] campaign trip, August 13, 2013. Governments and partnerships are currently moving to tackle a polio outbreak in the Horn of Africa. (Insider Images/Stuart Ramson for the UN Foundation)

 

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