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Millenium Development Goals

One of the key deliverables of the Forum Compact is to track the progress of Forum island countries (FICs) towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which is the main purpose of this Report. The MDGs assessment in this Report is not strictly made against the global targets, as the assessments are contextualised to country realities and supplemented by proxy data and qualitative information.

Reducing poverty is the biggest challenge for many FICs, with only two countries (Cook Islands and Niue) on track to achieve MDG 1. Majority of FICs are on track to achieve universal primary education although the quality of education remains a concern. Except for PNG, Solomon Islands and Tonga, all FICs are on track to achieve gender parity in education (Target 3.a). However, only Cook Islands, Niue and Palau are on track to achieve the broader goal of promoting gender equality and empowering women.

Reducing child mortality is an area where FICs are doing extremely well as 10 of the 14 countries are on track to achieve this Goal. Around half of the FICs are on track to improve maternal health. Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and Papua New Guinea (PNG) are the only countries off track on this Goal, with Kiribati, Nauru, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu recording mixed progress.

Although most FICs have very low HIV/AIDS prevalence, the high incidence of STIs, low condom use, low comprehensive correct knowledge about HIV/AIDS and mobility of residents indicate that the spread of HIV/AIDS remains a serious risk. Malaria is endemic to only PNG, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. While Solomon Islands and Vanuatu are on track to halt and reverse the incidence of malaria, PNG is off track to achieve the target. On the other hand, most FICs are on track to combat tuberculosis (TB).

On environmental sustainability, most FICs are on track to achieve the targets on integrating the principles of sustainable development into national plans, as well as towards reducing biodiversity loss. However, only six countries (Cooks Islands, Fiji, Niue, Palau, Tonga and Vanuatu) are on track to improve access to safe water and proper sanitation. Water and sanitation issues are particularly acute for countries in Micronesia.

In terms of global partnerships for development, although overseas development assistance (ODA) to the region has doubled since 2002, aid fragmentation remains an issue, with calls for simpler and less fragmented aid delivery modalities.

This year’s Report focused on a detailed assessment of the region’s progress towards promoting gender equality and empowering women, scrutinizing progress on the gender-related MDGs – education; employment, the economy and poverty; political representation; health and the environment. Part 3 also examines cross-cutting gender gaps in the MDGs, such as violence against women, discrimination in legal and human rights, women with disabilities and the availability of sex-disaggregated data and gender analysis. It also looks at partnerships and resource mobilization to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women.

The detailed assessment on gender and the MDGs reinforce the notion that gender equality and empowering women is central to achieving all the MDGs. While some FICs have made progress towards greater gender equality and the empowerment of women, the pace has been slow and inconsistent across all FICs. A web of intersecting, fluctuating and often conflicting factors influences FICs’ slow progress. But the most powerful influence of all is political will. When leaders act on their commitments to build gender equality, by making the necessary investments in capacity building, policies, programmes, and action plans, as well as adequate resources to support implementation and accountability mechanisms, they galvanise the pace of progress. More critically, whatever the level of FICs’ achievements on the MDGs by 2015, the work on gender equality and empowering women will not be over. With less than 1,000 days left to the 2015 deadline, there is an urgent need for a more concerted effort to accelerate progress. In 2010, Forum Leaders reinvigorated their commitment to the MDGs through the Port Vila Declaration on Accelerating Progress on the Achievement of the MDGs. Since then, only a few countries have seriously embarked on MDG acceleration activities. Part 4 of the Report examines the case studies of three FICs that adopted the UNDP MDG Acceleration Framework (MAF).

Tonga is applying the MAF towards combating non-communicable diseases (NCDsMDG 6.c), with links to poverty(MDG 1) and gender equality and empowering women (MDG 3), Vanuatu is focused on reducing adolescent births and unmet need for family planning (MDG 5), while Tuvalu is focused on improving the quality of education (MDG2). The Report also highlights the Pacific perspectives on the post-2015 agenda/ sustainable development goals (SDGs).

With the MDGs set to expire in 2015, global discussions are well underway on what is to replace the MDGs, termed the ‘post-2015 development agenda’. In a parallel process, the Rio+20 Summit recognised the importance and utility  of developing a set of SDGs that would be coherent and integrated with the post-2015 development agenda. A key related global process called for at the Rio+20 Summit, was the convening of a Third International Conference on the

Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in Samoa, 1-4 September, 2014.

The Outcomes of the Pacific Regional Preparatory Meeting towards the 2014 SIDS Conference provides an indication as to the key issues for the Pacific region on the post-2015 agenda/SDGs: climate change; health, especially NCDs; social development; governance; infrastructure; sustainable energy; oceans; international support for SIDS; sustainable resource management and protection; inclusive and sustainable economic management; and means of implementation and partnerships.

Linking these regional priorities with the global discussions on the post- 2015 agenda and the SDGs, there are some areas of commonality with the Pacific priorities but some issues such as climate change, infrastructure (especially access to finance), oceans and means of implementation and partnerships are failing to gain traction within the global discussions.
 

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