Envisioning a Global Development Agenda Beyond 2015
By admin February 22, 2015


The year 2015 will mark the end of one of the world’s most ambitious projects since the Marshall Plan and the restructuring of post-World War II economies. The Millennium Development Goals (MDG) that were first established at the dawn of the 21st century ushered a new chapter in global development efforts focused on providing a common, time-bound framework that targets key objectives in ensuring economic growth, human prosperity, and greater living standards afforded to those outside OECD countries.

This turning point also marks the year of reflection, where national governments worldwide deliberate on the progress made and the work still needed to address extreme poverty in its many dimensions, including income poverty, hunger, disease, lack of adequate shelter, and exclusion –meanwhile promoting and ensuring gender equality, education, and environmental sustainability.

The eight MDGs primarily focused on eradicating extreme poverty, halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, with governments prioritizing certain goals to achieve their nation’s development objectives. The targets which began in 2000 embarked on providing a universal framework to galvanize development efforts and set forth clear priorities that will guide developing nations out of the shadows of hardships and towards the new frontiers of prosperity.

Enormous progress has been made towards achieving these established goals, with poverty nearly dropped by more than half since 1990; and according to the United Nations (UN), “Enrolment in primary education in developing regions reached 90% in 2010, up from 82% in 1999, which means more kids than ever are attending primary school.” What’s more, goals four and five which set out to reduce child mortality has been slashed also by about half, with 17,000 fewer children dying each day. Even examining the landscapes of many cities worldwide, from Shanghai to Dubai and Rio to Nairobi, the face of poverty doesn’t look as familiar as it did in 1990. What we are essentially seeing is a world where fewer people are hungry, hopeless, and desperate, and this is indeed a great cause to celebrate.

However, despite the incredible progress that has been made, there are still over 1 billion people living below US$1.25 a day, and humanitarian crises due to war, famine, and environmental degradation unfortunately have not been wiped out, but only amplified. Additionally, the third MDG to promote gender equality and empower women has lagged in comparison to other targets set forth, as the gender gap in education and job employment in certain countries have inched along behind more prioritized goals.

Fifteen years later, we are nearing the finishing line, with new ambitions outlined under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that will soon replace the MDGs. The seventeen proposed goals that are to replace the previous eight will now focus on sustaining rapid economic growth, while ensuring that economic prosperity in the 21st century is inclusive and, more importantly, environmentally sustainable.

Discussions are currently underway in expanding and outlining the new course of development following the MDGs, and are bringing together various public and private stakeholders into the conversation as business, civil society and national governments will be required to work hand in hand to solve some of the more pressing issues left on the development agenda. World leaders are expected to convene in New York in September 2015 to adopt a framework at the Special Summit on Sustainable Development, and finalize an ambitious post-2015 sustainable development agenda built upon the lessons learned from the MDGs. With this in mind, we can only wonder what the world will look like in 2030.

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