Achieving Millennium Development Goals: Bex Dunn

On the 27th February UN officials stated that they have been giving nations advice on how to speed up their progress on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in order to adhere to the 2015 deadline. This new advice is called the MDG Acceleration Framework (MAF). It has been created as it is believed that although there has been progress towards the MDGs, it has not been quick enough and progress is still lagging.

I do not think that this MAF will be much more successful due to the flaws that are in the MDG plan as it is. The goals are far too broad and it is not feasible that they will all be able to be achieved by the deadline in 2015, it is just too much pressure on the international community when it is already having to deal with global financial crisis. Whilst I wholeheartedly agree with the concept of the MDGs and I believe that they propose goals we should undoubtedly be aiming for, I just do not believe that it is possible to achieve them in the timeframe that was suggested.

The administrator of the UNDP, Helen Clark, highlighted various areas where progress has not been sufficiently made. These include: maternal mortality reduction, universal access to reproductive health, and improved sanitation. The eight MDGs set specific targets on poverty alleviation, education, gender equality, child and maternal health, environmental stability, HIV/AIDS reduction, and a ‘Global Partnership for Development. There has been definitive progress in some areas, notably in poverty alleviation as half the number of people as in 1990 are living in extreme poverty. Progress has also been made in facilitating access to water as well as universal primary school education. But this is not anywhere near achieving the MDGs as the time frame for action was just too limited.

We can also pick holes in the progress that has been made for example with the reduction in numbers of those living in extreme poverty. Undoubtedly they are still living in severe poverty but they are now above the threshold of extreme poverty as they are living on $1.25 or more. This is hardly solving the problem as their living conditions will still be much below those which were envisaged by the creators of the MDGs. The main problem is that those pushing development are spreading themselves too thin.

I think that instead of striving to achieve the MDGs by developing new action plans, it would be more beneficial to focus the MDGs more and reduce their ambiguity. Devoting more time to developing infrastructure in specific development areas would better allow the achievement of these goals. At present the relatively vague proposals are arguably unachievable in the time frame given due to the scale of resources and organisation needed which may serve the purpose of disillusioning states from further action.

Bex Dunn