What Would Universality Mean in the United States?

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Since 2000, the world has made commendable progress in sharply reducing extreme poverty and improving the lives of hundreds of millions of people under the umbrella of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals, or MDGs. This set of voluntary global goals was designed to accelerate progress over 15 years in key areas such as health, education, and the environment. The eight MDGs—which ranged from halving the rate of extreme poverty to reducing the rate of under-5 mortality by two-thirds—have formed a blueprint to help the world’s poorest people.

The theory behind the MDGs was simple: By establishing a shared set of priorities in crucial areas, setting measurable targets to achieve those goals, and creating transparency around data to track progress, the goals could catalyze resources, new partnerships, and action—driving a race to the top. In many ways, the MDGs represented a global to-do list for lifting vulnerable populations out of poverty.

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