Millennium Development Goal #7

The World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA) is a global nonprofit organization representing and coordinating a membership of over 100 national United Nations Associations.

Main Targets

Progress Report: Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes and reverse the loss of environmental resources.

Progress Report: Reduce biodiversity loss, achieving, by 2010, a significant reduction in the rate of loss.

Progress Report: Halve, by 2015, the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.

Progress Report: By 2020, to have achieved a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers.


This MDG is plagued with both extreme successes and slow responsiveness. Two of the MDGs have been reached: halving the proportion of the population without access to safe drinking water and making significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers years before their intended dates. The others, on the other hand, have been struggling to make headway. Disforestation has gone down globally but is still very high, with the majority of deforestation taking place in the tropics and the majority of net gains in the northern forested regions. Because of this and other factors such as pollution, biodiversity is at risk in every region on earth. While there are protected forested and marine areas, they are often not protected to the extent that they should be, leaving them vulnerable. Likewise, the number of protected areas is extremely limited, with only 1.5% of the ocean actually deemed “protected”. This has left the proportion of fully exploited fish stocks at 50%, the same percentage as the 1970s.  Equally as disappointing is the per capita Carbon Dioxide emissions of developed regions, which sits at 29 tonnes versus the developing regions who have a per capita rate of 11.2 tonnes, leaving the successes like the Montreal Protocol undervalued worldwide. 

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Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes and reverse the loss of environmental resources.


Progress Report


  • The rate of deforestation and the loss of forest from natural causes is slowing down, despite bring very high. Globally, the rate of deforestation has gone down, with the 1990s losing 16 million hectares per year of forest to 13 million hectares pre year this past decade.
  • The majority of forest loss occurs in the tropics, with net gains coming mostly in the temperate and boreal zones.
  • Reforestation and expansion of natural forest in some regions have seen the reduction of overall net loss of forest globally. For example, 2000 - 2010 say a loss of -5.2 million hectares of forest globally, which is down from -8.3 million hectares from 1990-2000.
  • Southern Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa saw the largest net loss of forest from 2000 - 2010.
  • Oceania saw a large net loss of forest, due largely to severe drought and forest fires in Australia over the past 10 years. This can be directly compared to Asia, who saw a net gain of 2.2 million hectares due to large afforestation programs in China, India and Viet Nam.
  • With biodiversity at risk, protected areas have been on the rise since 2000, with an increased 94 million hectares since 1990, which equals to roughly 13% of the world’s forests.
  • "Vital Forest Graphs, 2009" by the UNEP, FAO and UNFF - Read More

Green House Gases

  • With the large role forests play in the carbon cycle (taking in large amounts which are released back into the atmosphere when burned or cut down), it is estimated that the 1/6 of human induced greenhouse gasses emission can be directly related to the forestry sector.
  • 2008, which is the last year of available data for carbon dioxide emissions, reached 30.1 billion metric tons, an increase of 1.7% from 2007. It is smaller, however, than 2006-2007 (2.9%), but it is estimated that the lower emissions rate could be related to the economic crisis which saw emissions in several countries decrease in 2008 in developed regions specifically.
  • Per capita, developed regions omit the highest amount of emissions, at 11.2 metric tons of carbon dioxide per person per year in 2008.This should be compared to the 2.9 metric tons per year per person on average in developing regions. Sub-Saharan Africa was around to have the lowest emissions value per capita, at 0.8 metric tons.
  • The World Meteorological Organization recorded 2001-2010 as the warmest on record since 1880 in average global temperature (which is also warmer than the older record set in 1991-2000).
  • Carbon dioxide emission and wealth graph - Read More


  • The Montreal Protocol: largely viewed as a success story, parties of the protocol have accomplished “unprecedented” change since 1987. By 2009, the parties saw consumption of 98% of all ozone depleting substances controlled under the Montreal Protocol being phased out. In large part to this, the ozone layer is expected to return to the pre-1980s levels by the middle of this century.
  • This also leads to the reduction of global warming gases, with 2000 seeing a reduction of 25 billion tons of carbon dioxide-like gases. 
  • “The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer” by the Ozone Secretariat, United Nations Environment Programme - Read more

Reduce biodiversity loss, achieving, by 2010, a significant reduction in the rate of loss.

Progress Report

  • The world has missed this MDG, with insufficient protection of biodiversity in every region.
  • The number of designated protected areas to protect ecosystems has dramatically increased in the last half century, with 2010 seeing 150,000 protected sites covering 12.7% of land and 7.2% of coastal waster with a reach of 12 nautical miles.
  • As a result of the limited protection of biodiversity worldwide, biodiversity overall is decreasing. And, even with certain areas being deemed as protected, it is often found that many are inadequately managed putting the area at risk.
  • he best examples of this are the two global networks of protected sites: The Important Bird Areas (11,000 sites of importance worldwide) and Alliance for Zero Distinction Sties (588 supporting habitat with remaining populations of one or more highly vulnerable species) have only 26% and 22% of these sites fully protected, respectively.
  • The Red List Index, with all of the world’s bird species (10,000), mammals (4,500) and amphibians (5,700) states that overall, species are declining in population worldwide. Amphibians as noted as the most threatened and declining the fasted of any other group.
  • The loss of biodiversity is largely attributed to high rates of consumption, habitat loss, invasions species, climate change, and pollution.
  • Protected Areas and Threatened Species Infograph - Read More

Marine Life

  • Marine protection is very limited with less than 1.5% of the total ocean designated as protected.
  • The proportion of fish stocks that are estimated to be underexploited/moderately exploited has declined from 40% in the mid-1970s to 15% in 2008.Concequently, overexploited/depleted/recovering fish stocks have increased from 10% to 33% over the same time period.
  • The proportion of fully exploited stocks sits at about 50%, which is the same level as the 1970s.
  • Overall, the decline in marine life continues. This is despite coastal regions trying to take action and protect their marine life. This is largely attributed to pollution, overfishing and loss of habitat.

Halve, by 2015, the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.


Progress Report

Water Access

  •  On March 6th, 2012, it was publicly announced that the target to increase access to safe drinking water had been reached 1% above the originally set target. By the end of 2010, this left 89% of the populations, an estimated 6.1 billion people, with access to safe water sources. It is projected that if rate of progress continue, 2015 will see an estimated 92% of the world’s population have access to safe water sources.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa saw the least amount of improvement in terms of access to clean water in the world.
  • The United Nations Report on reaching this MDG - Read more

  • World Water Day is March 22nd, 2012.


  • Unlike the target about accessible water, the target of sanitation is far from being reached globally.  It is estimated that given the current rate of progress, it will take until 2049 to provide 77% of the world’s population with flush toilets and other forms of improved sanitation.
  • In 2008, an estimated that half of the population in developing regions (roughly 2.6 billion people) were not using improvedmethods of sanitation.                                                         
  • Open defecation, a large health risk, with estimated to be practiced by 1.1 billion people, with two thirds of those individuals living in Southern Asia.
  • North Africa has already surpassed this target, raising improved sanitation coverage in 1990 from 72% to 89% in 2008.

Rural Living and Sanitation                                                                    
                                                                                                           Sanitation Target

  • Globally, an urban resident, on average, is 1.7 times more likely to use improved forms of sanitation than someone living in rural areas.
  • While this urban/rural disparity is shrinking gradually worldwide, the largest inequity is found in Southern Asia, where urban residents are 2.2 times more likely to use improved forms of sanitation methods than their rural counterparts. Even this disparity is positive progress, with urban residents in 1990 in that same region being 4.3 times more likely to use improved sanitation methods.
  • In three countries within Southern Asia,  improved sanitation was found to largely benefit the wealthy, with the poorest 40% of households  having barely increased in the last 10 years, as compared to the richest 20% of households who have maintained a very high coverage level.

By 2020, to have achieved a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers.

Progress Report

  • The target of improved the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers has been achieved twice over, with the last ten years seeing improved access to improved water, sanitations and/or less crowded housing for over 200 million slum dwellers. This leaves their chances of escaping poverty, illiteracy and disease much higher than those without the above mentioned factors.
  • From 2000-10, the percentage of residents living in slum areas in the developing world declaimed from 39% to 33%. This is estimated to be about 200 million people.
  • Overall, it is estimated that the number of slum dwellers has grown due to the fast pace of urbanization in the last ten years. For example the current total number of estimated individuals living in slum, urban areas worldwide  is 828 million, compared to 657 million in 1990 and 767 million in 2000.
  • 2010 saw Sub-Saharan Africa has the region with the highest prevalence of sum conditions, with 62% of the urban populations living in slums. This is followed by South Asia (35%) and South-East Asia (31%).
  • Conflict-affected countries have seen an increase in the population of urban slums, with an estimated total of 64% in 1990 to 77% in 2010.
  • The original target, set in 2000, was based off too small of an estimate of people living in sub-standard conditions in urban areas worldwide. 



"Rate of Forest Loss Has Decreased, But We're Not Out of the Woods Yet", March 29, 2010. 

“The Millennium Development Goals Report 2011”, the United Nations, June 2011.

“We Can End Poverty 2015 – Fact Sheet”, UN Department of Public Information, September 2010.

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