1000 Days to Millennium Development Goals Deadline, Religious Leaders Stress Diligence

The Millennium Development Goals started as an ambitious plan aiming to put an end to the global struggles related to poverty, hunger and social injustice, but with 1000 days left until the goals' stated deadline, there is still a great deal of work to do.

The Millennium Development Goals were created in 2000 when 189 countries signed a declaration to halve global poverty by 2015.

Participating nations promised to "spare no effort to free our fellow men, women and children from the abject and dehumanizing conditions of extreme poverty, to which more than a billion of them are currently subjected," the United Nations' Millennium Declaration stated.

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Some of the world's most prominent religious leaders signed an open letter on Friday addressed to world governments, but more specifically to members of the G8. They encouraging their continued participation and support in the face global economic strife while insisting their participation is facilitating true change.

"Development is working. But challenges remain. The number of people living in extreme poverty has been halved ahead of time and 14,000 fewer children die each day than in 1990. Yet 1 in 8 people still go to bed hungry every night and over 2 million die of malnutrition each year," the open letter read.

The letter, published in the United Kingdom's Financial Times, focused on the wealthiest country's maintaining their current commitment to the MDGs in the face of volatile economic circumstances.

"The financial crisis may be a reason but is not an excuse for hesitation or deferral. The MDGs remind us that in addition to providing for the well-being of our own societies, we have a collective responsibility to uphold human dignity and the common good at the global level," the letter stated.

The letter points does reveal that the overall poverty goal has been met ahead of time, in large part due to China's economic growth, but it does admit that "hunger remains a global challenge with some 868 million people going hungry every day."

One organization that is leading the charge for reaching the MDGs is Micah Challenge, which is encouraging Christians around the world to become socially involved and committed to ending global poverty by holding governments responsible and being the vehicles for social change.

"Meeting the MDGs is possible. Even in hard times we should not waiver from our promise to the poorest people in the world. If we tackle waste and corruption, we could free up billions, more than enough to meet the MDGs," Joel Edwards, International Director of Micah Challenge, said in a statement.

In addition to reducing poverty, the Millennium Development Goals also are concerned with: universal primary education, promotion of gender equality, reduction of child mortality, improved maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS, environmental sustainability and developing a global partnership for development.

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