In 2000, 189 member-states came together to confirm their collective commitment to creating a better world for themselves, their citizens, and their children. By the end of the Millennium Summit, the General Assembly identified eight international development goals to complete by 2015, which included: (1) eradicating extreme poverty and hunger; (2) universal primary education; (3) advocating gender equality and female empowerment; (4) reducing childhood mortality; (5) ameliorating maternal health; (6) combating diseases; (7) promoting environmental sustainability; and (8) fostering a closer global community.
While no one can object to saving children and ending poverty, it appears that the delegates’ vision for a better world blinded their judgment on what was realistically attainable. Now, do not get me wrong -- while we should obviously set high standards for ourselves and not settle for anything less, the problem was that the Millennium Development Goals failed to acknowledge the root of these issues and help countries develop roadmaps for actually achieving them.
Instead of considering the catalysts for these issues, the General Assembly temerariously handed every nation the document, and expected them to find some way to produce considerable results by 2015. Although it is important to respect nations’ sovereignty and trust that their governments are adept at solving these problems, the Millennium Development Goals overlooked the fact that every nation is different in terms of government system, population, national language, and history. As a result, each nation will have a different journey, and it is unrealistic to expect 189 (or, now, 193) separate entities to have the same results in a limited time frame.
Although the Millennium Development Goals have been partially effective, it is time for us to take a different approach. Rather than changing the agenda, it is important for nations to keep the momentum. Obviously, we want to live in a world where no one has to go to bed hungry, and where individuals are not discriminated against by virtue of their gender. However, the key is in the way that we approach it.
I believe that it is important for member-states to evaluate the specific issues each nation faces in achieving these goals, and have each nation outline: (1) the background on the issue (which includes current statistics on these issues); (2) what they have done to ameliorate these issues, and the challenges they face; (3) their goals and roadmaps for achieving them; and (4) anticipated challenges and help/aid requested. I think that all of these outlines should be organized into one reference binder that each nation has access to. Once the documents are successfully compiled, each government should read all of the position papers to gain some background knowledge of the challenges their fellow nations face. If they find that they identify with a particular nation by virtue of their national histories, government structures, or even if they empathize with them because they have endured similar challenges, then these governments can work together to mentor and help one another overcome the rough patches. Under this model, nations can lean on one another, which reduces the stigma around these challenges and fosters a closer global community.
At the same time, it is important for nations to create individual roadmaps for themselves, and present them in the General Assembly. With these roadmaps, nations will outline their current problem, their goals, and create a realistic timeline for their completion in front of their fellow members in the General Assembly for the purposes of publicly announcing their plans and creating a system of accountability. Under my model, nations would be expected to follow up every two years.
At the same time, it is important for member-states need to see the intersectionality between these issues, and develop models to tackle them simultaneously. For example, if we do not improve maternal health, then we cannot reduce childhood mortality, and, if we do not reduce childhood mortality, then there is no way that we can discuss universal primary education because kids will die before they reach the age to even go to school. If we do not increase kids’ access to education, then we cannot empower women. It is important to study the relationship between these issues, as opposed to viewing them separately in order to get to the root of the problems.
If these proposals are implemented, I am confident in our ability to, one day, live in an environmentally sustainable world where every child has access to primary education. The key, however, is being realistic about it.