Since we're just about done 1% of the new millennium, I thought it'd be a good time to check in with the Millennium Development Goals. These are the goals that all UN member states have agreed to achieve by the year 2015. There are eight goals, and while progress has been mixed, some countries have made remarkable progress, and many have even already surpassed their goals, five years early.
For example, in 1990, 77 percent of the world was using an "improved" water source, but now it's up to 87 percent, close to the MD Goal of 88 percent. And, in the chart below, you can see the progress each region of the world has made towards reducing the infant mortality rate (under-five, actually). Every region shows significant progress, with even Sub-Saharan Africa, the notable straggler here, still reducing their number from 184 (per 1,000 births) in 1990 to 144 today, a 21 percent reduction.
Or look at the number of people living with HIV today, as shown in another chart from the MDG 2010 Report. That number is still rising, but since the number of newly-infected people has been dropping quickly, this is due in part to fewer people dying of the disease. All 3 trends are illustrated in the chart below.
Lastly, let's look at the big one: the world's poor, measured in the number of people living on less than $1.25 a day. At least 15 poor countries, many in East Asia and Southeast Asia, have already met their 2015 goals, due to the drastic poverty reduction in China and other countries. Other regions are progressing strongly as well, with only Western Asia and Russia seeing setbacks. If we look at the developing world overall, we see that 46 percent of the population lived in extreme poverty in 1990, but by 2005 that had been reduced to 27 percent, nearly meeting the MD Goal already.
You can see more of these charts on Wikipedia here.