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Problems in MDGs and solutions for SDGs
Still the history remembers; the revolution of development and improvement brought by UN in a very less span of time by- fighting the terrorism, saving the humanity from fatal and horrible diseases, serving humanity and recovering them from natural disasters, providing women their due rights, enlightening and spreading the concept of democracy in the world. But again the history also weeps the tears of blood over- slogans of people, who were served best by UN, being raised against UN; burning its flag and accusing it to be responsible for every evil. The reason behind it; whether the people have been distracted by some clerics and religious and social gurus or either UN have not initiated such strategies which could bring all these people into the confidence, that is volunteerism is required to be promoted as volunteerism is key to social, economic and environmental transformation(4). Recognizing that volunteerism is an important component of any strategy aimed at, inter alia, such areas as poverty reduction, sustainable development, health, disaster prevention and management and social integration and, in particular, overcoming social exclusion and discrimination(5) This should be therefore, the very first priority of UN before initiating any strategy. It will not only bring the people from different culture, having different languages, to share a common vision by working over a specific goal but also will centralize them towards global harmony.
Recognizing the importance of cultural heritage of the nations, UN has not been or has been less successful to preserve the long living ancient cultures of the world. Moreover, a high gap was found between the cultures and living standards of people from different groups (say between the people of south and west), which was never tried to be minimized realizing the fact that the gap has not only created a level of misconception among these groups for each other but also has deteriorated the peace in those regions. UN post-2015 development plan should be therefore enriched by, cultural and linguistic diversity, through which dying cultures of the world can be preserved and the gap between the people of cultures can be minimized.
This year, the UN is to complete 70 years. But indeed, 2015 is much more than a birthday for UN as it is going to be the toughest year for the UN to proof its legitimate existence. On the one hand, the devils and witches of- ISIS in Syria and Iraq, Boko Haram in Nigeria, Alqaida in Afghanistan and of different other terrorist wings are destroying the humanity by killing them in the public places. While on the other hand maintaining biodiversity, reclaiming forests, managing water resources, ensuring accessible energy, protection of Earth’s life-support system, poverty reduction, and ocean acidification, water shortages, resolving conflicts among the countries are going to be some of the crucial challenges for the UN to be addressed and solved. The crux of the solution of each issue is just dependent over a one plan “UN Post-2015 Development Plan” which is going to be discussed in its 70th anniversary, a moment going to be marked when UN will either succeed or fail to secure a meaningful deal on a post-2014 development framework to replace Millennium Development Goals (MDGSs).
Although this is not possible to formulate a comprehensive post 2015 UN development agenda but at least a proper reflection of its plan can be discussed. It is said that “history is the reflection of future”. Therefore, before discussing the post 2015 development plan it is necessary to consider the strengths and weaknesses of MDGs and past policies of UN in order to get a more specific and fruitful plan. This essay doesn’t deals the weaknesses of MDGs but the main reason behind mentioning them is to reach to the crux of each problem.
It was observed that the trends followed by UN were uneven and unequal across various countries and regions. The assessment of progress towards the MDGs has reportedly shown that the poorest (because of gender, age disability and ethnicity) are often bypassed. Similarly the progress has been most significant in those countries where economic growth is managed while in contrast; the progress has been more modest where structural changes and political commitment need to be improved(6). Similarly, the progress was apathetic in providing access to proper sanitation; about 2.6 billion people have still no access to improved sanitation. Moreover, the focus of Millennium achievements didn’t take into account the challenges of middle-income countries, for example; lack of adequate secondary education and teacher training defies the goal of universal primary education. For many countries, there is no baseline of data measuring progress towards achieving the SDGSs. To make the UNs post-2015 development plan successful, the new framework must be able to ensure accountability for follow-up and proper implementation. Data need to be improved. The world will need to get much more systematic and transparent methods for collecting data and measuring progress in the post-2015 era. Without some sort of better and over sighted accountability in post-2015 era, it is difficult to predict how long global agenda will be stimulated.
The MDGs didn’t make a non-rational sense because the financially strong countries transferred resources to the less developed ones, but the countries in the south complained of a “West lectures rest” dynamic. Moreover, some criticized the ownership of the MDG agenda to the extent that there were no or less consultations with stakeholders of all the states. MDG monitoring was often perceived as a top-down exercise, where the selection of indicators and targets was the result of consultations limited to some individuals or some international agencies. About 18 targets were selectively drawn from the text of Millennium declaration signed by 191 heads of states (7), but the MDGS didn’t reflect all the dimensions emphasized in the text of MDG’s declaration. In order to ensure the implementation of post-2015 plan across the entire world, Leaders need to sell the vision much harder-at home and globally. This demands the plan to deal with universal commitment and common political vision among all the states and to take them in confidence as well.
Focusing on implementation ahead of the UN Summit at New York looks quite sensible action. But UN agreements can only work when there is a clear understanding of how to move from paper commitments to actions; when action speaks more than words. Negotiators must now carry on a common universal political vision. The MDG agenda focused on end results (poverty reduction, school enrollment, etc.) rather than on the means to achieve them. For the SDGs this weakness of not providing clear directions regarding the strategy could be seen as strength by putting the national stakeholders in the driver’s seat, thus making them the part of UN development’s ownership.
One of the most important drawbacks of monitoring framework has been the lack of clarity on defining regional and national targets vis-à-vis global targets. It was observed that MDGs presented just an agenda rather than a development strategy. Moreover, the framework was too quantitatively oriented and paid no attention to the outcomes (e.g. school attendance versus effective learning). The goals were too focused on national averages and do not mandate the progress at sub-national levels and across population groups. Therefore, in order to achieve the desired result, the overemphasis should be over “development processes” rather than on “outcomes.”
Few Recommendations for the Post-2015 UN Development Plan
Who wants what from post-2015 development agenda is still not clear. But it may be expected; that high-income countries may aim to allocate greater share of aid to the less developed countries, while the low income countries may aim to boost their domestic revenues. However, the middle-income countries may aim to develop its technology. While considering the different aims of different countries in post-2015 development plan, UN should make sure the fulfillment of asks and offers of each country regardless of any political or regional, linguistic or cultural discrimination. The goals set by the new development plan should be universal-that is, not distinguishing the developing and developed countries. Before setting any plan, it must consider economic growth (a key player in all the plans’ success) and jobs, promoting peace and security (Indeed the toughest and most important task for future).
§Knowledge based inclusive process
For goals to be seen as legitimate, fruitful and worth pursuing, the process must use Think-out-of-the-box approach. It must balance the political engagement with expertise from science to business, NGOs and communities.
The process must be visionary; tackling the challenges not just now but also in coming decades. Goals and targets must also be enough able and knowledge based to deal the new issues and trough and crust of the time. (8)
§UN System must cohere more, and its components must coöperate not compete
To enhance the effectiveness, a strong centre of direction is needed for new development plan’s success. The SDGs will turn toothless without an adequate monitoring.(9)
§The new framework should be
voluntary – invite the world to carry on UN mission as of their own; “transformational,” focused on achieving multiple grand objectives, transform the societies and improve their economies, and protect the planet by 2030; and leave no-one behind – by taking in account the targeted communities.(10)
§Long term time frame
Recognizing the fact that new development plan deals the sustainable development, thereof should be extended for long period of time (of, say, 25 years). However, for enhance policy of accountability and transparency; it should consider intermediate targets (Say, at five-year intervals)
·Some of the recommendations and solutions, in context of the problems mentioned above, can also been summarized in the figures given below.
If, as expected, the list of goals and targets remains long and complex, choices will need to be made. It is better to choose some specific goals for specific regions on the basis of priority (First thing to be first as in the figures given below). The goal which has been set shall be ensured its delivery along with quality. Each track is connected and dependent over another. There are significant risks that failure along one track will send the others three off track.
1. The Post-2015 Development Agenda: Three Facts and Three Challenges by Sarah Hearn, September 03, 2014,
2.World population projected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050 | UN DESA | United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs
3.Sustainable development goals for people and planet, 21 March 2013, Vol-495, Nature, P:305, Macmillan Publishers
4.UNV position statement on the post-2015 development agenda (Final version as of 7 June 2013)
5.United Nations General Assembly A/RES 63/153
6.United Nations (2011), “Accelerating the progress towards the Millennium Development Goals: options for sustained and inclusive growth and issues for advancing the United Nations Development Agenda beyond 2015: Annual report of Secretary-General,” A/66/126
7.UN System task Team on the post-2015 development agenda: Review of the contributions of MDG agenda to foster development: Lessons for the post-2015 UN Development agenda, page 7
8.Post-2015: framing a new approach to sustainable development, MARCH 2013
9.Whiter Post-2015 UN Development?, Authors: Stephen Browne and Thomas
10.The post-2015 Development Agenda: A Test of the UN in Its 70th Year, Author: Sarah Hearn
11.Note: Figures have been taken from “Post-2015: framing a new approach to sustainable development, MARCH 2013”
Note: Some of the content of this article is taken from other sources, articles published over MUN etc.