Population Matters

Population and the Millennium Development Goals

Population and the Millennium Development Goals

We have issued a briefing on the United Nations’ final evaluation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) — a set of eight objectives established by the United Nations that have guided international development since 2000. They expire at the end of this year and will be replaced by a larger set of goals known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


The report on the final evaluation provides information about the successes of the MDGs as well as failures and continuing problems to be addressed. In our briefing, we examine the claims made in the report and point out that one of the key causes of the failures — unsustainable population growth — is ignored. If as the United Nations is projecting there are approximately one billion more people in the world by 2030, achievement of the SDGs will be even more difficult.

Our view is that global fertility rates can be lowered and unsustainable population growth curbed through greater investment in family planning services and prioritization of sexual and reproductive health and rights and women’s empowerment.

We believe policymakers must take actions that will lower fertility rates and restrain population growth if the SDGs are to be achieved.

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