Thematic Evaluation Study on ADB’s Support for Achieving the Millennium Development Goals

Date: April 2013
Type: Evaluation Reports
Evaluation; Poverty
Series: Special Evaluation Studies


The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)—adopted by 189 countries in 2001—when launched were seen as offering the greatest promise for bringing about socioeconomic development and focusing attention on the world’s poor. As 2015’s deadline to achieve the objectives approaches, governments, civil society, and development institutions are already looking back to learn from the MDG experience to inform post-2015 development positions. With this in mind, the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Independent Evaluation Department assessed ADB’s support to its developing member countries for achieving the goals.

This evaluation study assesses the alignment of ADB’s corporate strategies to the MDGs and considers whether setting global targets made a difference to the development results in the region’s developing countries. The study looks at emerging issues for the new development agenda post-2015 to feed into ADB’s contribution to that agenda. It covers ADB’s portfolio from 2002 to 2011, when more than 37% of financing was for direct MDG support.

ADB’s developing member countries overall performed very well on the income poverty MDGs. But progress on non-income human goals, such as improving maternal health, and environmental sustainability was slow and even regressing in some crucial aspects. According to ADB’s Key Indicators for Asia and the Pacific 2012, the most off-track MDG goal is for reducing carbon dioxide emissions, which actually rose in 90% of developing member countries, followed by the goal calling for a reduction in the pace of deforestation beyond protected areas. The study suggests that ADB could put more emphasis on environmental sustainability in its transport and energy investments to increase ADB’s role in environmental sustainability in the region.

For ADB, the results of MDG-related operations are assessed as effective overall, although this is based on the ratings of only 207 completed sovereign operations, less than a quarter of those approved in the period reviewed. The ones directly supporting MDGs had a 75% success rate, higher than ADB’s historical success rate of 63% during 1968–2011.

Among ongoing concerns raised by the study is the poor availability of MDG-related data in many ADB developing member countries; it suggests ADB could play a bigger role in this area. Looking beyond 2015, the study recommends that a focus on developing member countries whose progress falls furthest below a minimum standard for basic goals may be warranted.


  • Acknowledgements
  • Foreword
  • Executive Summary
  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • Chapter 2: Comparative Global Perspective
  • Chapter 3: ADB’s Corporate Strategies and the MDGs
  • Chapter 4: Alignment of ADB Operations with the MDGs
  • Chapter 5: ADB’s Support to Individual MDGs
  • Chapter 6: Did International Goal Setting Work in Asia?
  • Chapter 7: The Post-2015 MDG Agenda for Asia and for ADB
  • Appendixes
  • Methodology for the Reclassification

ADB’s Support for Achieving the Millennium Development Goals by Independent Evaluation at Asian Development Bank