What Needs to Be Done to Achieve the MDGs?

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What Needs to Be Done to Achieve the MDGs?

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What will it take to achieve the MDGs? @chamberBCLC's Stephen Jordan address flaws and opportunities. http://3bl.me/5nkq8g #globalcsrconf
Friday, September 24, 2010 - 6:50pm

The MDGs and Market Development Principles

As a preface to this post, here are the Millennium Development Goals and their targets. This is going to lengthen the post slightly, but it's necessary to ensure we’re all on the same page. After you read them, I'm going to ask you to list all eight of them. If you’ve memorized them or peeked, that doesn’t count.

Goal 1: Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger
  • Target 1: Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than $1 a day

  • Target 2:Achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people

  • Target 3: Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger

Goal 2: Achieve Universal Primary Education
  • Target 1: Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling

Goal 3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women
  • Target 1: Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and in all levels of education no later than 2015

Goal 4: Reduce Child Mortality
  • Target 1: Reduce by two thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-five mortality rate

Goal 5: Improve Maternal Health
  • Target 1: Reduce by three quarters the maternal mortality ratio

  • Target 2: Achieve universal access to reproductive health

Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and Other Diseases
  • Target 1: Have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS

  • Target 2: Achieve, by 2010, universal access to treatment for HIV/AIDS for all those who need it

  • Target 3: Have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases

Goal 7: Ensure Environmental Sustainability
  • Target 1: Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes and reverse the loss of environmental resources

  • Target 2: Reduce biodiversity loss, achieving, by 2010, a significant reduction in the rate of loss

  • Target 3: Halve, by 2015, the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation

  • Target 4: By 2020, to have achieved a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers

Goal 8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development
  • Target 1: Address the special needs of least developed countries, landlocked countries and small island developing states

  • Target 2: Develop further an open, rule-based, predictable, non-discriminatory trading and financial system

  • Target 3: Deal comprehensively with developing countries’ debt

  • Target 4:In cooperation with pharmaceutical companies, provide access to affordable essential drugs in developing countries

  • Target 5: In cooperation with the private sector, make available benefits of new technologies, especially information and communications


How did you do? Were you able to list them all? Were you surprised by what you remembered and what you didn't?

If you were to think about them rationally, you would probably think in terms of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: food, water, housing, clothing, health, and so on.

But then you start studying them and odd things jump out: three of the eight goals are healthcare-related, and one of the targets of the 8thone is also health-related. 

The 7thgoal is about environmental sustainability, and yet the 4thtarget under it is related to improving slum living conditions.  Poverty and hunger are mashed up together in MDG #1, and while MDGs 1-7 treat the human condition.

MDG #8, “develop a global partnership for development,” seems like a strategy to achieve the other seven and the answer to the question, “One of these things is different, can you figure out which one?” 

At the “Investing in the MDGs” forum we hosted this past April, anticipating this current UN General Assembly meeting, we tried to figure out which UN agencies are accountable for achieving which UN goals. But when you study the goals, you realize that it is impossible to assign sole responsibility to any single UN agency.  

The way the agencies and the goals are configured, they cut across each other. Likely, at least four different UN agencies are working on MDG #1. It is easy to see how UNDP, UNICEF, the World Health Organization, and the World Food Program might intersect across multiple goals.

Either the MDGs or the UN system have to be reconfigured to align with each other in order to have some kind of clarity about roles, responsibilities, and accountability. Barring either one being reorganized, it is hard to determine who “owns” these goals at the UN level.

There are many other limiting factors affecting the possible success of the MDGs, but one particular element that keeps tripping me up is trying to understand the logic underpinning them. Why were these goals chosen?  How do they relate to each other?  Why was this framework chosen? 

Continue reading here.