Research Paper 38, May 2011

The MDGs beyond 2015.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are in the news. It is ten years since these were adopted by the United Nations. And, in late September 2010, political leaders from across the world gathered in New York for a meeting of the General Assembly to discuss the past decade and the next quinquennium. This is the life span of the MDGs which are the focus of attention among people for different reasons. Some are concerned with the past to review progress. Some concentrate on the present to consider the implications of the financial crisis and the Great Recession in the world economy. Some think about the future and how to traverse the remaining distance. The conjuncture is obviously important and so are the reasons. But the object of this paper is different. It seeks to discuss MDGs in prospect rather than retrospect. But it does not enter into a discussion on the next five years. The object is to reflect on possibilities and options beyond 2015.

The structure of the discussion is as follows. Section I sets the stage before the play begins. In doing so, it begins with the rational and significance of the MDGs, outlines the broad contours of outcomes so far, and draws lessons from the diverse experiences.

Section II attempts an evaluation of MDGs. It situates the MDGs in the wider context of thinking about development and makes a comparison with other similar approaches, although the essential purpose is to provide a critical assessment of the conception and design of MDGs.

Section III contemplates the future. It discusses options beyond 2015 in terms of possible choices to explore the necessary and desirable contours of change which could be the foundations of a modified or alternative framework.

Section IV examines what developing countries could do in their respective national contexts for the pursuit and  attainment of development objectives embedded in the MDGs.

Section V is about the international context, where the focus has been narrow and the progress has been slow so far. It highlights possibilities of change for the better but argues for a different approach and framework which would be conducive for development.

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