The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs, see: http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/) are a set of 8 pledges that were set by the member countries of the United Nations and were to be met by 2015:
"The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – which range from halving extreme poverty rates to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by the target date of 2015 – form a blueprint agreed to by all the world's countries and all the world's leading development institutions."
The article in the url below discusses the fate of the MDGs now that the deadline (2015) is about to be reached. Progress towards attaining the existing MDGs has been patchy—some of the goals have been met and others have not:
"The target of halving hunger, for example, may be missed – though not by much. In 1991, 23.4% of all people in the developing world were malnourished; more than a billion people went to bed hungry. By 2013, the proportion had dropped to 13.5%. Though the developing world had 1.7 billion more people than in 1991, 209 million fewer were starving. Over the past 22 years, the world has managed to feed almost two billion more people adequately – no small feat."
As a result of the impending expiration of the 2015 deadline, the United Nations launched a process to define the next set of MDGs (this time, to be relabeled the Sustainable Development Goals). This process has to be completed by the time of the UN's Annual General Assembly in September (when the new goals are due to be adopted):
"Over the next year, the world's 193 governments will come together to set new global targets to be met by 2030. The task amounts to this generation's greatest opportunity to translate high aspirations into concrete targets. But choosing the targets that will do the most good requires learning from current experience."
This process has generated two problems. The first, more straightforwardly, is trying to decide what these goals should be. Rather than the neat original 15 goals, however, this time things are getting a little out-of-hand:
"The problem is that the next set of targets is growing ever larger. The high-level panel suggested 59, compared to 18 under the MDGs, and the Open Working Group nearly tripled the total number again, to 169 targets."
Second, however, is more of a logistical challenge—how to measure progress towards each target. In other words, it is only worth setting a target if we can accurately determine whether or not it is subsequently met. This is much more challenging than it might seem:
"To estimate the number of poor in a country requires a household survey of consumption. But six of the 49 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have never had a household survey, and only 28 countries have had one in the past seven years. For example, according to the World Bank, 11.92% of Botswana's population was poor in 2008. But these data are based on just one household survey – from 1993."
And, the larger the total number of targets, the more expensive it becomes to measure them all:
"[Morten Jerven of Simon Fraser University] estimates that carrying out even minimal data collection for all 169 would cost at least $254 billion – almost twice the entire annual global development budget."
Here's to 2030!
Have a good weekend
David Chandler & Bill Werther
Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility: Stakeholders, Globalization, and Sustainable Value Creation (3e)
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Measuring the Next Global Development Goals
By Bjorn Lomborg
December 22, 2014