Missing The Millennium Development Goals
The UN / GOALS
• The goals were made deliberately modest. Even more ‘realistic’ targets were then set for each goal. The start date was fixed at 1990, the finish date 2015 – a period of 25 years in all – so projections for the future would relate to established trends. Just 10 of the 25 years now remain.
• How the targets were to be met was left unclear. A ‘global partnership for development’ was to be ‘developed’. A UN Conference on Financing for Development in March 2002 pledged few new resources – fewer still have been delivered. The focus was to be on aid, rather than ‘innovative’ measures (such as a ‘Tobin’ tax on currency speculation) or any change to the mechanisms of debt and trade.
• In 2003 the UNDP Human Development Report made an assessment of progress. It painted a bleak picture, from which the comments below are derived. On current trends sub-Saharan Africa is going backwards. In the world as a whole (including rich countries), the target on hunger is unlikely to be reached until after 2040; on child mortality until nearly 2050; on primary education until after 2090.
• All the projections rely on current economic growth rates in India and China, which are likely to prove unsustainable. Overall, the best-performing region is Latin America where, since the overthrow of military dictatorships, neoliberal economic orthodoxy has been most hotly contested.
• Disrespect for the lives of many millions of people is, however, set to continue for generations to come – if not indefinitely. Many of the trends are adverse and cast into doubt the whole ‘development’ project itself.
© Copyright 2005 New Internationalist
Publications Ltd. All rights reserved.