What were success factors of the Millennium Development Goals?

Led by Frank Biermann, Thomas Hickmann and Matteo Spinazzola

The Millennium Development Goals, agreed upon by the United Nations member states for the period from 2000 to 2015, were an important precursor to the current Sustainable Development Goals. With the Millennium Development Goals, the international community reinforced its approach of governance through goals that became dominant in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Yet, what were the actual impacts of the Millennium Development Goals in terms of policy outcomes? To what extent have they been achieved, in what areas, in which countries, and most importantly – how can we explain these effects and underlying variations? Answering these questions offers crucial information for the success of the Sustainable Development Goals.

This ongoing research builds upon an original database of scholarly articles in the field of Social Sciences published in English that assess the Millennium Development Goals. Using this database, we firstly provide a mapping of the current scholarship on the Millennium Development Goals with regard to involved research institutes, main approaches, geographical focus and key topics. Secondly, we evaluate a subset of the studies in our database that investigate the causal effects of the Millennium Development Goals and identify hindering and enabling factors in the implementation process. Finally, we formulate a number of policy recommendations to help policy-makers adjust political frameworks to foster the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and strengthen this newest version of governance through goals.

Related literature:

Biermann, F., Kanie, N., & Kim, R. E. (2017). Global Governance by Goal-Setting: The Novel Approach of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 26, 26-31.

Fukuda-Parr, S. (2014). Global Goals as a Policy Tool: Intended and Unintended Consequences. Journal of Human Development Capabilities, 15(2-3), 118-131.

Kamau, M., Chasek, P., & O’Connor, D. (2018). Transforming Multilateral Diplomacy: The Inside Story of the Sustainable Development Goals. New York: Routledge.

Kanie, N., & Biermann, F. (Eds.). (2017). Governing through Goals: Sustainable Development Goals as Governance Innovation. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Sachs, J. D. (2012). From Millennium Development Goals to Sustainable Development Goals. The Lancet, 379(9832), 2206-2211.

United Nations. (2000). United Nations Millennium Declaration. Resolution 55/2. New York: United Nations.