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ARTICLE : MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS REPORT 2014
Thursday, 17 July 2014 09:34



MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS REPORT 2014

 

The ‘Millennium Development Goals Report 2014’ was launched by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on 7 July 2014. It is the most up-to-date "global scorecard” on efforts to achieve the eight mostly anti-poverty goals agreed by world leaders at a UN summit in 2000.

The Millennium Declaration has articulated a bold vision and established concrete targets for improving the existence of many, and for saving the lives of those threatened by disease and hunger.

There is no doubt that important progress has been made across all goals and some targets have been met ahead of the 2015 deadline. However, a major thrust is required in areas where advancement has been slow or has not benefited all.

Among the MDG targets that have already been met or are close to meeting their targeted goals are:

Between 2000 and 2012, an estimated 3.3 million deaths from malaria were averted due to the substantial expansion of malaria interventions. About 90 per cent of those saved were children under the age of five living in sub-Saharan Africa. The fight against tuberculosis has helped to saved an estimated 22 million lives since 1995.

In 1990, almost half of the population in developing regions lived on less than $1.25 a day. This rate dropped to 22 per cent by 2010, reducing the number of people living in extreme poverty by 700 million.

Substantial gains have been made towards reaching gender parity in school enrolment at all levels of education in all developing regions. By 2012, all developing regions had achieved, or were close to achieving, gender parity in primary education.

The target of halving the proportion of people without access to an improved drinking water source was achieved in 2010. In 2012, 89 per cent of the world’s population had access to an improved source.

Development assistance rebounded, the trading system stayed favourable for developing countries and their debt burden remained stable at about 3 per cent. However, aid is shifting away from the poorest countries. 80 per cent of imports from developing countries entered developed countries duty-free and tariffs remained at an all-time low.

The political participation of women has continued to increase. In January 2014, 46 countries boasted having more than 30 per cent female members of parliament in at least one chamber.

THE LAGGARDS

Global emissions of carbon dioxide continued their upward trend and those in 2011 were almost 50 per cent above their 1990 level.

Millions of hectares of forest are lost every year, many species are being driven closer to extinction and renewable water resources are becoming scarcer.

Hunger continues to decline, but immediate additional efforts are needed to reach the MDG target. Meeting the target of halving the percentage of people suffering from hunger by 2015 will require immediate additional effort, especially in countries which have made little headway.

Although chronic under-nutrition among young children declined, one in four children is still affected. 162 million young children are still suffering from chronic under-nutrition.

Worldwide, the mortality rate for children under age five dropped almost 50 per cent, from 90 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 48 in 2012. However, much more needs to be done.

Preventable diseases are the main causes of under-five deaths and appropriate actions need to be taken to address them.

Globally, the maternal mortality ratio dropped by 45 per cent between 1990 and 2013, from 380 to 210 deaths per 100,000 live births. Maternal death is mostly preventable and much more needs to be done to provide care to pregnant women.

Access to antiretroviral therapy (ART) for HIV-infected people has been increasing dramatically, with a total of 9.5 million people in developing regions receiving treatment in 2012.

While, over a quarter of the world’s population has gained access to improved sanitation since 1990, yet a billion people still resorted to open defecation, which poses a huge risk to communities that are often poor and vulnerable already.

The school enrollment rate in primary education in developing regions increased from 83 per cent to 90 per cent between 2000 and 2012. Most of the gains were achieved by 2007, after which progress has stagnated. High dropout rates remain a major impediment to universal primary education.

IMPORTANCE OF RELIABLE AND CORRECT DATA

Reliable and robust data are critical for devising appropriate policies and interventions for the achievement of the MDGs, and for holding governments and the international community accountable. However, despite considerable advancements in recent years, reliable statistics for monitoring development remain inadequate in many countries. Data quality and compliance with methodological standards are among the major challenges to MDG monitoring.

On the positive side, in many developing countries the need to track MDG progress gave national statistical systems the opportunity to develop their capacity to produce and deliver the necessary information.

Institutional, political, and financial obstacles have continued to hamper data collection, analysis, and public access. There is an urgent need to improve household survey programmes for poverty monitoring in in small States and countries and territories in fragile situations.

The Report of the High Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda has called for a ‘Data Revolution’, which reflects the growing demand for better, faster, more accessible, and more disaggregated data that will play a central role in advancing the new development agenda.

GOAL 1—ERADICATE EXTREME POVERTY AND HUNGER

Quick Facts

About one in five persons in developing regions lives on less than $1.25 per day.

Vulnerable employment accounted for 56 per cent of all employment in developing regions, compared to 10 per cent in developed regions.

About 173 million fewer people worldwide suffered from chronic hunger in 2011–2013 than in 1990–1992.

One in four children under age five in the world has inadequate height for his or her age.

Every day in 2013, 32,000 people had to abandon their homes to seek protection due to conflict.

In 1990, close to half of the people in developing regions lived on less than $1.25 a day. This rate dropped to 22 per cent by 2010, thus meeting the target of halving the proportion of people living in extreme poverty five years ahead of the 2015 deadline. However, progress on poverty reduction has been uneven. Regions such as sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia still lag behind. According to World Bank projections, sub-Saharan Africa is unlikely to meet the target by 2015.

In 2010, one third of the world’s 1.2 billion extreme poor lived in India alone. China, despite much progress in poverty reduction, ranked second, and was home to about 13 per cent of the global extreme poor. Nigeria (9 per cent), Bangladesh (5 per cent) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (5 per cent) followed

A total of 842 million people, or about one in eight people in the world, were estimated to be suffering from chronic hunger in 2011–2013. The vast majority of those people (827 million) resided in developing regions.

The proportion of undernourished people—those individuals not being able to obtain enough food regularly to conduct an active and healthy life—decreased from 23.6 per cent in 1990–1992 to 14.3 per cent in 2011–2013. However, progress during the past decade was slower compared to that recorded in the 1990s. Meeting the target will require considerable additional effort, especially in countries which have showed little headway.

The year 2013 was marked by a continuation of multiple refugee crises, resulting in numbers unseen since 1994. Conflicts during the year, such as those in the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, the Syrian Arab Republic, and the border area between South Sudan and Sudan, among others, forced an average 32,000 people per day to abandon their homes and seek protection elsewhere. Another 33.3 million people uprooted by violence and persecution remained within the borders of their own countries.

GOAL 2—ACHIEVE UNIVERSAL PRIMARY EDUCATION

Quick Facts

Half of the 58 million out-of-school children of primary school age live in conflict-affected areas.

More than one in four children in developing regions entering primary school is likely to drop out.

781 million adults and 126 million youth worldwide lack basic literacy skills, and more than 60 per cent of them are women.

Between 2000 and 2012, developing regions made substantial progress towards universal primary education, with the adjusted net enrolment rate in primary education increasing from 83 per cent to 90 per cent. However, there were still 58 million children out of school in 2012.

The regions of Eastern Asia, South-Eastern Asia, Caucasus and Central Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean were close to achieving universal primary education, but have seen little progress since 2000. Northern Africa, which had enrolment rates of 80 per cent in 1990, almost achieved universal primary education by 2012. Western Asia and Southern Asia have also closed the gap, especially since 2000. Oceania made substantial progress with an increase in enrollment rates from 69 per cent to 89 per cent. The greatest improvement was in sub-Saharan Africa, where the adjusted net enrollment rate increased by 18 percentage points between 2000 and 2012.

However, sub-Saharan Africa faces a big challenge from rapid population growth. Compared to 2000, there were 35 per cent more school children to accommodate in 2012. Countries in the region have also experienced armed conflicts and numerous other emergencies which have kept children out of school.

Disadvantaged children, such as those with disabilities, are also at risk. These children often require education adapted to their needs. However, in many developing countries, such personalized approaches are either deficient or unavailable.

The youth literacy rate for the 15–24 years old population increased globally, from 83 per cent in 1990 to 89 per cent in 2012. The adult literacy rate, for the population 15 years and older, increased from 76 per cent to 84 per cent. Still, 781 million adults and 126 million youth worldwide lacked basic reading and writing skills in 2012, with women accounting for more than 60 per cent of both the illiterate adult and youth populations.

Given the fact that there has been little reduction in the number of children out of school since 2007, a final push will be needed to ensure that as many children as possible are in school by 2015.

GOAL 3—PROMOTE GENDER EQUALITY AND EMPOWER WOMEN

Quick Facts

In Southern Asia, only 74 girls were enrolled in primary school for every 100 boys in 1990. By 2012, the enrollment ratios were the same for girls as for boys.

In sub-Saharan Africa, Oceania and Western Asia, girls still face barriers to entering both primary and secondary school.

Women in Northern Africa hold less than one in five paid jobs in the non-agricultural sector.

In 46 countries, women now hold more than 30 per cent of seats in national parliament in at least one chamber.

Gender parity in education is reached when the gender parity index (GPI), defined as girls’ gross school enrollment ratio divided by the corresponding ratio for boys, is between 0.97 and 1.03. Trends in GPI show important gains in all developing regions at all levels of education—primary, secondary and tertiary. However, gender disparities become more prevalent at higher levels of education, with greater variances among developing regions.

In 2012, all developing regions achieved, or were close to achieving, gender parity in primary education. Southern Asia stands out in terms of overall progress in primary education: in 1990, the primary education GPI was the lowest of all regions, at 0.74; by 2012, it had risen to 1.00.

However, there are still countries in that region where gender parity is yet to be achieved, namely, Afghanistan and Pakistan—where there are at most nine girls for every ten boys enrolled—and Bangladesh and Nepal—where the gender disparity favours girls. Sub-Saharan Africa, Oceania, Western Asia and Northern Africa still face continuing disadvantages for girls, although these regions have made substantial progress over the past two decades.

Women’s access to paid employment in non-agricultural sectors has been increasing slowly over the past two decades. Women’s share increased globally from 35 per cent in 1990 to 40 per cent in 2012, with increases, although unequal, observed in almost all regions.

Women members of parliament accounted for 21.8 per cent of all parliamentary seats in January 2014, up from 20.3 per cent the previous year. In January 2014, 46 countries boasted more than 30 per cent women members of parliament in at least one chamber, up from 42 countries the previous year.

GOAL 4—REDUCE CHILD MORTALITY

Quick Facts

The child mortality rate has almost halved since 1990; six million fewer children died in 2012 than in 1990.

During the period from 2005 to 2012, the annual rate of reduction in under-five mortality was more than three times faster than between 1990 and 1995.

Globally, four out of every five deaths of children under age five continue to occur in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia.

Immunization against measles helped prevent nearly 14 million deaths between 2000 and 2012.

The global rate of under-five mortality in 2012 was almost half of its 1990 rate, dropping from 90 to 48 deaths per thousand live births. The estimated number of under-five deaths fell from about 12.6 million to 6.6 million over the same period: about 17,000 fewer children died each day in 2012 than in 1990. All regions, with the exception of sub-Saharan Africa and Oceania, have reduced their under-five mortality rate by more than half.

Currently, the world is reducing under-five mortality faster than at any other time during the past two decades. The global annual rate of reduction in under-five mortality has accelerated steadily from 1.2 per cent between 1990 and 1995 to 3.9 per cent between 2005 and 2012. However, regions such as Oceania, sub-Saharan Africa, Caucasus and Central Asia, and Southern Asia still fall short of the 2015 target. It will take until 2028 to reach Goal 4 globally at the current rate.

Encouragingly, neonatal mortality is on the decline worldwide. Between 1990 and 2012, the world neonatal mortality rate fell by almost one third, from 33 to 21 deaths for every thousand live births. However, the pace of decline has fallen behind that of post-neonatal mortality. As a result, the proportion of deaths occurring in the first 28 days of life has increased, from 37 per cent in 1990 to 44 per cent in 2012.

Measles deaths have declined by more than three quarters in the past twelve years, from 562,000 deaths in 2000 to 122,000 in 2012, mostly among children under five years of age. Compared with estimated mortality in the complete absence of a measles vaccination programme, 13.8 million deaths were averted by measles vaccination between 2000 and 2012.

GOAL 5—IMPROVE MATERNAL HEALTH

Quick Facts

Almost 300,000 women died globally in 2013 from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth.

The proportion of deliveries in developing regions attended by skilled health personnel rose from 56 to 68 per cent between 1990 and 2012.

In 2012, 40 million births in developing regions were not attended by skilled health personnel, and over 32 million of those births occurred in rural areas.

52 per cent of pregnant women had four or more antenatal care visits during pregnancy in 2012, an increase from 37 per cent in 1990.

Globally, the maternal mortality ratio dropped by 45 per cent between 1990 and 2013, from 380 to 210 deaths per 100,000 live births. However, this still falls far short of the MDG target to reduce the maternal mortality ratio by three quarters by 2015.

Despite progress in all world regions, the maternal mortality ratio in developing regions—230 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 2013—was fourteen times higher than that of developed regions, which recorded only 16 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 2013.

Almost one-third of all global maternal deaths are concentrated in two populous countries: India, with an estimated 50,000 maternal deaths (17 per cent), and Nigeria, with an estimated 40,000 maternal deaths (14 per cent).

One critical strategy for reducing maternal morbidity and mortality is ensuring that every baby is delivered with the assistance of a skilled health attendant (medical doctor, nurse or midwife).

The use of contraception in developing regions has increased, due—in part—to improved access to safe, affordable and effective methods of contraception. The increase in the prevalence of contraceptive use in developing regions between 1990 and 2012 was accompanied by a decline, from 17 per cent to 12 per cent, in the unmet need for family planning. This unmet need for family planning was highest in sub-Saharan Africa, whereas the total demand for family planning there was lower than in any other region. In 2012, 25 per cent of women between the ages of 15 and 49, married or in union and residing in this region, reported the desire to delay or avoid pregnancy, but had not used any form of contraception.

GOAL 6—COMBAT HIV/AIDS, MALARIA AND OTHER DISEASES

Quick Facts

Almost 600 children died every day of AIDS-related causes in 2012.

Antiretroviral medicines were delivered to 9.5 million people in developing regions in 2012.

Malaria interventions saved the lives of three million young children between 2000 and 2012.

Between 1995 and 2012, tuberculosis treatment saved 22 million lives.

HIV: Globally, the number of new HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infections per 100 adults (aged 15 to 49) declined by 44 per cent between 2001 and 2012. Southern Africa and Central Africa, the two regions with the highest incidence, saw sharp declines of 48 per cent and 54 per cent, respectively. Still, there were an estimated 2.3 million cases of people of all ages newly infected and 1.6 million deaths from AIDS-related causes

There were an estimated 35.3 million people living with HIV worldwide, a record high registered in 2012, as new HIV infections continued to exceed the number of AIDS-related deaths and as a record number of people have been receiving antiretroviral therapy, keeping them alive longer.

Risky behaviour and insufficient knowledge about HIV remain at alarmingly high levels among youth in some regions. However, there has been no substantial decline in the past decade in new HIV infections among young people between 15 and 24 years old, despite special efforts targeting that group.

In 2012, there were an estimated 17.8 million children aged 0 to 17 years globally who had lost either one parent, or both, to AIDS. Efforts by national programmes and global partners to mitigate the impact of AIDS on households, communities and children have intensified.

Assuming the current momentum can be maintained, the world would be on track to reaching its objective of having 15 million people on antiretroviral therapy (ART) by the end of 2015, as agreed at the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on HIV and AIDS in June 2011.

Malaria: Between 2000 and 2012, the substantial expansion of malaria interventions led to a 42 per cent decline in malaria mortality rates globally. New figures now show that, during that time, an estimated 3.3 million deaths were averted, far more than previously believed. About 90 per cent of those averted deaths—3 million—were children under age five in sub-Saharan Africa, thereby contributing substantially to the reduction in child mortality.

The fight against malaria requires sustained political and financial commitment from both the international community and affected countries, as an estimated 3.4 billion people are still at risk of infection. The past ten years have shown just how powerful and cost-effective existing public health interventions can be, in reducing the malaria burden and saving lives to bring the malaria target within reach. Yet, millions of people still lack access to such programmes. The annual resource requirements to prevent, diagnose and treat malaria globally are estimated at $5.1 billion. In 2012, the world fell $2.6 billion short of that goal, threatening progress in the worst-hit African countries, in particular.

Tuberculosis: In 2012, there were an estimated 8.6 million additional cases of tuberculosis and a total 11 million people living with the disease. Globally, the number of new tuberculosis cases per 100,000 people has continued to fall, with a decline of about 2 per cent in 2012, compared to 2011. If this trend is sustained, the MDG target of halting the spread and reversing the incidence of tuberculosis will be achieved.

Despite such good progress, much more needs to be done. One-third of newly diagnosed tuberculosis patients may not have received proper treatment. Only one-third of the estimated 300,000 multidrug-resistant cases among notified TB cases in 2012 were diagnosed and treated according to international guidelines. Many HIV-positive tuberculosis patients do not know their HIV status. Furthermore, almost half of those HIV-positive tuberculosis patients who do know their HIV status have not yet accessed antiretroviral treatment. A great challenge is to bridge the funding gap, which—despite the increases in funding over the past decade, as well as substantial financing from the Global Fund in many countries—has remained very large.

GOAL 7—ENSURE ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY

Quick Facts

Global emissions of carbon dioxide have increased by almost 50 per cent since 1990.

Protected ecosystems covered 14 per cent of terrestrial and coastal marine areas worldwide by 2012.

Over 2.3 billion more people have gained access to an improved source of drinking water since 1990, but 748 million people still draw their water from an unimproved source.

Between 1990 and 2012, almost 2 billion people obtained access to improved sanitation. However, 1 billion people still resort to open defecation.

One-third of urban residents in developing regions still live in slums

There were around 13 million hectares of forest lost worldwide each year between 2000 and 2010, either through devastation by natural causes or because the land was converted to other land uses. Urbanization and the expansion of large-scale commercial agriculture were the main causes of deforestation at the global level.

Afforestation and the natural expansion of forests have reduced the net loss of forest from an average of 8.3 million hectares annually in the 1990s to an average of 5.2 million hectares annually between 2000 and 2010. This has been due—for the most part—to the measures taken by countries such as Brazil, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Rwanda and Viet Nam to redress deforestation and manage their forests sustainably.

Deforestation decreases biodiversity and access to clean water, and increases soil erosion and the release of carbon into the atmosphere. It often results in the loss of this major economic asset and, in developing countries, of the livelihood opportunities for rural communities, indigenous peoples and women.

Global emissions of carbon dioxide have continued their upward trend, increasing by 2.6 per cent between 2010 and 2011. The growth in carbon dioxide emissions accelerated after 2000, with emissions increasing by 35 per cent from 2000 to 2011, compared to 10 per cent from 1990 to 2000. This has been due mostly to the fast growth in emissions from developing regions.

Emissions in 2011, per unit of economic output, however, were higher in developing than in developed regions. Containing the growth in global emissions remains a challenge. Negotiations to address this challenge are ongoing under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Global consumption of ozone-depleting substances (ODS) decreased by over 98 per cent between 1986 and 2013. Developed regions succeeded in reducing their consumption of ODS within the ten years subsequent to 1986, whereas the reduction in consumption in developing regions became noticeable only after 2000, after they had assumed their obligations. All countries had stopped the use of major ozone-depleting substances by 2010 and any remaining ODS will be phased out gradually during the next two decades.

At least 14 per cent of terrestrial and coastal marine areas (up to 12 nautical miles) are protected. Such areas conserve biological diversity and produce many goods and services—such as food and water, climate control, crop pollination and recreational benefits. The area under protection in many world regions has increased substantially. In Latin America and the Caribbean, protected area coverage rose from 8.7 per cent to 20.3 per cent between 1990 and 2012. Also, Western Asia expanded the area under protection substantially, from 3.7 per cent in 1990 to 14.7 per cent in 2012.

Many species are being driven closer to extinction through declines in population and distribution. The Red List Index shows that, overall, species are declining in population and distribution and, hence, moving faster towards extinction. The Index measures trends in the overall extinction risk of sets of species, and is compiled by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and its partners. It is now available for all the world’s birds (10,000 species), mammals (4,500 species), amphibians (5,700 species) and warm-water reef-building corals (700 species).

Biological diversity provides many different ecosystem services upon which human lives and livelihoods depend. For example, many studies have shown that declines or absences of species that pollinate crops lead to reduced crop productivity and value. A recent analysis of the Red List Index revealed declining population and distribution trends and increasing extinction risk of pollinator bird and mammal species—a result likely to be mirrored by insect pollinators. More needs to be done to reverse these trends, reduce extinction rates and, hence, safeguard the benefits species provide to society.

The target of halving the proportion of people without access to an improved source of water had already been achieved in 2010, five years ahead of schedule. Over 2.3 billion more people gained access to an improved source of drinking water between 1990 and 2012, out of which there were 1.6 billion people who had gained access to a piped drinking water supply on the premises—the highest level of service, associated with the best health outcomes.

There were, however, 748 million people still relying on unsafe drinking water sources in 2012, of which 173 million obtained their drinking water straight from rivers, streams or ponds. The remaining population relied on unprotected, open wells or poorly protected natural springs. Forty-five countries in the world were not on track to meet the MDG drinking water target.

Additionally, those populations using an improved drinking water source may not necessarily have safe water. Many improved facilities are microbiologically contaminated. Furthermore, water is not easily accessible to many households, especially in sub- Saharan Africa. Many people, usually women or young girls, often need to join long queues or walk long distances to get to an improved water source.

Despite the large increase in sanitation coverage, from 49 per cent in 1990 to 64 per cent in 2012, it seems unlikely that the MDG target of 75 per cent coverage will be met by 2015. In 2012, 2.5 billion people did not use an improved sanitation facility. Much greater effort and investment will be needed to redress inadequate sanitation practices in the coming years. In 2012, 1 billion people still resorted to open defecation, a practice that needs to be brought to an end, as it poses a huge risk to communities that are often poor and vulnerable already.

Slums: Slums are characterized by the absence of basic services, such as improved drinking water and adequate sanitation, along with insecure tenure, non-durable housing and overcrowding. Between 2000 and 2012, more than 200 million slum dwellers gained access to either improved water, improved sanitation, durable housing or less crowded housing conditions. By 2012, nearly 33 per cent of urban residents in developing regions still lived in slums. Twelve years earlier, in 2000, practically 40 per cent of urban residents in developing regions had been in that situation.

Despite these advances, the number of slum dwellers has continued to grow, due, in part, to the fast pace of urbanization. The number of urban residents living in slum conditions was estimated at 863 million in 2012, compared to 760 million in 2000, and 650 million in 1990. The proportion of people living in slum conditions in urban areas was particularly high in sub-Saharan Africa (62 per cent) and, to a lesser extent, in Southern Asia (35 per cent), compared to 24 per cent in Latin America and the Caribbean, and 13 per cent in North Africa. More efforts are needed to improve the lives of the urban poor across the developing world, and to reverse the trend whereby the number of people living in slum conditions is increasing.

GOAL 8—DEVELOP A GLOBAL PARTNERSHIP FOR DEVELOPMENT

Quick Facts

Official development assistance stood at $134.8 billion in 2013, the highest level ever recorded.

80 per cent of imports from developing countries enter developed countries duty-free.

The debt burden on developing countries remains stable at about 3 per cent of export revenue.

The number of Internet users in Africa almost doubled in the past four years.

30 per cent of the world’s youth are digital natives, active online for at least five years.

Developed countries’ net official development assistance (ODA) to developing countries in 2013 rose by 6.1 per cent in real terms compared to 2012, after two years of falling volumes. In 2013, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan and France were the largest donors by volume. Denmark, Luxembourg, Norway and Sweden continued to exceed the United Nations ODA target of 0.7 per cent of gross national income, while the United Kingdom met the ODA target for the first time.

Aid has also increased from non-DAC countries. The United Arab Emirates’ net ODA reached 1.25 per cent of gross national income, the highest ratio of any country in 2013. Turkey increased its net ODA by 30 per cent in real terms and Estonia and Russia by over 20 per cent compared to 2012.

In 2011–2012, out of a total of $98.8 billion of sector allocable aid, aid worth $23.5 billion was focused on the achievement of the Goal of gender equality and women’s empowerment.

About one-third of the total donor aid flow has been going in recent years to least developed countries (LDCs).

Duty-free access by exports from LDCs to developed countries’ markets reached 84 per cent in 2012. Most of the duty-free treatment—54 per cent—was truly preferential and not the result of the MFN treatment available to all exporters. The preference gap in favour of LDCs has increased since 2010.

Debt Burden: A country’s external debt burden affects its credit-worthiness and vulnerability to economic shocks. In 2012, the debt burden of developing countries—measured as a proportion of external debt service to export revenue—was 3.1 per cent, similar to the level of the preceding two years. This was much lower than in 2000, when the debt burden of developing countries was equivalent to 12 per cent of their export revenue. Better debt management, the expansion of trade and—for the poorest countries—substantial debt relief have reduced the burden of debt service.

The downward trend in debt ratio was interrupted briefly in 2009 by the sharp fall in export revenue due to the global financial crisis. However, as export earnings rebounded, debt ratios resumed their downward progression in 2010—with several regions’ ratios falling below their 2008 levels—and have remained relatively unchanged since then.

There are 39 countries eligible for debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative. Of these, 36 countries have reached their "decision point” and have had future debt payments reduced by $57.3 billion (in end-2012 net present value terms); the 35 countries that have reached their "completion point” are receiving full debt relief under the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative.

Information & Communication Technology: Close to three billion people—or 40 per cent of the world population—will be using the Internet by the end of 2014. More widely available information and communications technology (ICT) networks and services, growing content and applications, and falling ICT prices are allowing increasing numbers of people to join the global information society. Two-thirds of the world’s Internet users are in developing regions, where the number of Internet users doubled in just five years between 2009 and 2014.

Globally, more than four billion people are not yet using the Internet—90 per cent of whom are from the developing world—highlighting the need for improving the accessibility and affordability of Internet services.

Young people play an important role in driving the information society, particularly in developing countries where they represent a relatively large group within the overall population. In 2012, there were around 363 million digital natives—persons aged 15–24 years with at least five years of online experience. This cohort corresponds to 30 per cent of the world’s youth and 5 per cent of the total world population. In developed regions, 82 per cent of youth are digital natives. In contrast, in developing countries, where many young people only came online more recently, only 23 per cent of youth are digital natives. However, within the next five years, the population of digital natives in developing countries will more than double, helping those countries to drive their digital adoption agendas.