As the deadline to reach the Millennium Development Goals is fast approaching, world leaders have continuously met in the last year to assess the achievement of the program and set goals for the future. However, in light of the fact that many targets remain to be met, the U.N. is shifting from an approach that promises to help to one that is more inclusive and participatory — the Sustainable Development Goals.
This new approach carries important changes, especially when it comes to aligning national and international interests and needs, instead of imposing generalized international goals to a wide array of countries with different resources. It also seeks to incorporate more global leaders and local agents to produce more tangible results.
One of the elements driving this change is the wisdom of global goals in driving development. The set of goals established by in the Millennium Program have produced mixed result at best. While extreme poverty and child mortality have indeed been reduced to half of their 1990s levels, progress remains uneven among different countries and regions, especially in education and health. Even some African countries have seen a reversal in health related issues.
However, according to Charles Kenny, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, a nonprofit think tank in Washington, considering the nonbinding nature of these goals, the fact that countries and various organizations have abided by them and attempted to meet them speaks to their significance.
Building upon successes of the Millennium Development Goals, world leaders want to expand to new goals to include more than just poverty alleviation. This means that beyond health and education aimed at reducing extreme poverty and child mortality rates, the Sustainable Development Goals include issues such as climate change.
A main driver behind the new agenda setting for the next 15 years is to create programs that not only benefit the world’s poor, but the world in general. U.N. leaders have met 11 times in the last year looking to align national goals with some of the most challenging issues facing humanity today.
Whether setting development goals is a good practice or not is still being debated. However, one thing that world leaders can agree on is that it established a common language to implement and measure the success of development programs.
— Sahar Abi Hassan
Sources: The New York Times, Anchorage News Daily