Post-2015 goals must suit new contexts, UNDP chief says

Feb 27, 2013

Helen Clark calls for ‘reinvigorated, transformational’ agenda

Bogota — New global development goals must reflect current realities while sustaining the vision and momentum of the original Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark said Wednesday.

“The food, fuel, climate, economic, political, and security crises of the first 12 years of this century have reminded us of how fragile development gains can be in the face of shock and adversity,” she said in opening remarks here to a global conference on “Making the MDGs Work.”

The conference, hosted by the Government of Colombia, comes just over 1,000 days before the 31 Dec. 2015 target set by the 2000 Millennium Declaration, in which 189 national delegations pledged to work toward eight goals such as reducing child and maternal mortality, expanding access to clean water and sanitation, and tackling acute hunger.

“What the MDGs have taught us is to aim high and think bigger. The well-being of people and the planet we share depend on that,” Ms. Clark said. “The post-2015 framework can be seen as the next stage of implementation of the vision of the Millennium Declaration. To rise to that challenge, the international community needs to agree on a reinvigorated and transformational global agenda,” she said.

“The post-2015 development framework will need to reflect the new global context fully, while remaining committed to the unfinished business of the MDGs. In the years since the Millennium Declaration was signed, much has changed,” she said.

“Projections suggest that in 2015 almost 1 billion people will still live in extreme poverty. Many still will not have clean water or improved sanitation. Many will still be suffering from hunger, malnutrition, the burden of preventable ill-health, gender discrimination, and more. Whether or not global MDG targets are met, such suffering is inconsistent with the vision for dignity, equity, freedom, peace, and prosperity of the Millennium Declaration.”

Large-scale effort to accelerate progress

Large-scale consultations on the MDGs and what will succeed them began in 2012. The United Nations has held or scheduled national-level dialogues in 74 countries as well as 11 consultations around themes ranging from health and education to governance. An online global conversation is ongoing through social media.

“Everything learned from what it takes to achieve the MDGs is relevant to throwing ourselves behind the global development agenda that follows. It has never been more important to have robust evidence of what makes the MDGs work,” Ms. Clark said.

The MDGs originated as a pathway toward to advance human rights, development, and peace, offering measurable, time-bound goals, targets, and indicators, Ms. Clark said, “and a unifying vision for policymakers, development experts, and civil society. The goals’ clarity, conciseness, and measurability brought diverse actors together around a common cause.”

“By defining the desired outcomes in human development terms, the MDGs placed the wellbeing of people at the very centre of development efforts,” she said.

Notable achievements include a drop by half since 1990 in the number of people living in extreme poverty, on under US$1.25 per day. Access to improved water sources has expanded and universal primary school enrollment a goal now within reach for boys and girls.

The world has also achieved significant gains in tackling HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis, while progress toward reducing maternal mortality, ending acute hunger and malnourishment, and improving sanitation has lagged.

National ownership and dedicated policies are required to achieve further gains, Ms. Clark said.

“The remaining children not enrolled in primary school, for example, may be physically unable to join due to disability, or be working, or in groups which suffer discrimination, or be inhibited from attending for a range of other reasons unrelated to the physical proximity of schools and teachers,” she said. “Overall the next global development agenda needs to address the significant problem of inequality which has stood in the way of reaching the MDG targets.”

Acceleration Framework

Forty-five countries are now using the UN Development Group’s MDG Acceleration Framework (MAF)—developed by UNDP and piloted in 2010 by UN Country Teams—to identify pragmatic solutions to expedite progress on lagging MDGs.

“These plans are not pilot projects. They are designed from the outset to reach the entire target population. While not enough time has passed to see national averages shift, it is clear that, when backed by strong political leadership and concerted support for implementation, the MAF approach works,” Ms. Clark said.

Colombia, for example, is using the MAF across 76 territories, departments, and municipalities to respond to local priorities for reducing poverty, advancing gender equality, and addressing health shortfalls in the poorest and most disadvantaged communities.

Cambodia has become the first country to use the MAF to focus on women’s economic empowerment at the national level. In the Central African Republic, the MAF helped establish an integrated and multi-sectoral approach to food security and nutrition.

Discussions in Bogota this week will be reflected in a global report in September, to be released ahead of the UN General Assembly's Special Event on the MDGs.

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