The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are a set of indicators for development cooperation in the period up to 2015. Their review, which may redefine development cooperation, has started.
Future of the MDGs
The United Nations (UN) is planning an event in autumn 2013 to assess progress in achieving the MDGs and look towards the post-2015 period. The EU and many other donors use the MDGs as a basis for development programming. In order to address the impact of climate change and environmental degradation on development, the “new” MDGs will be linked to or merged with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also being discussed at UN level, following the Rio+20 conference. A proposal on SDGs is expected in autumn 2013. On 30 May 2013, the UN High Level Panel (HLP), including EU Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs, recommended as “illustrative goals“:
|(1) end poverty; (2) empower girls & women & achieve gender equality; (3) provide quality education & lifelong learning; (4) ensure healthy lives; (5) ensure food security & good nutrition; (6) achieve universal access to water & sanitation; (7) secure sustainable energy; (8) create jobs, sustainable livelihoods & equitable growth; (9) manage natural resources & assets sustainably; (10) ensure good governance & effective institutions; (11) ensure stable & peaceful societies; (12) create a global enabling environment & catalyse long-term finance.|
A study by the EP’s EXPO Policy Department sums up the challenges the post-2015 framework will have to address: non-income dimensions of poverty such as inequality, human rights issues, marginalisation, and exclusion. Achievements are currently only measured at country level, but do not look at cleavages between urban and rural regions, or elite and disadvantaged populations. Some ex-recipient countries such as China now act as donors, but not being members, do not adhere to OECD guidelines to aid. Food security will gain in importance, with the earth’s population expected to reach 9 billion by 2050. Finally, the global financial crisis has restricted the financial means of developed countries and emerging donors. New forms of financing are needed, involving multilateral development banks, such as blending aid with loans, as discussed in a joint hearing of the EP’s Budget and Development (DEVE) Committees.
The Commission Communication “A Decent Life for All: Ending Poverty and Giving the World a Sustainable Future” follows up a public consultation. It offers methodological proposals on how to reconcile the MDG and SDG agendas in an overarching framework aiming for an “inclusive green economy”. The Commission recalls the EU’s principles on Policy Coherence for Development.
The DEVE report by Filip Kaczmarek (EPP, Poland) suggests as major goals equality for women and girls, decent work for all, universal health coverage and quality education.
In May 2013, the Council (Development Ministers) discussed the future of the MDGs, and endorsed conclusions expected to be adopted by the General Affairs Council on 25 June 2013. High Representative Catherine Ashton reported briefly to DEVE Committee on 28 May 2013.
Other stakeholders’ opinions
According to an SWP analyst, the new agenda should continue working on the unfulfilled poverty-related goals. She recalls that peace, security and disarmament (as mentioned in the Busan Aid Effectiveness high-level forum in 2011), as well as governance (fight against corruption and effective tax collection) also impact on sustainable development. Freedom from violence could gain consensus as a goal.
The NGO coalition Beyond2015 commends the HLP on pushing developed countries to reform trade, tax and transparency policies and to tackle illicit capital flows. Other early reactions express disappointment that inequality has not been given a more prominent place. A UNRISD policy brief explains the problems of inequalities between and within countries, concerning gender, region, ethnicity et al.