MDGs: Around the Village Pump

Main ImageThe three day UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Summit kicked off this Monday in New York where world leaders are  meeting to discuss progress on the eight development goals set ten years ago. As they attempt to spur each other into action, the aid community and media has been all talk with everything MDG.  Here’s a brief recount of the chit chat:

The general sentiment is that the MDGs will not be met by their 2015 deadline. No  surprise there.  As the LA Times reports, most developed countries have failed to increase their aid to 0.7% of their GDP and most developing countries have failed to spend 15% of their budgets on health. On the up side, improvements in more attainable goals have been made, e.g., distributing mosquito nets, improving primary school enrollment. However, with time dwindling, the more challenging problems of reaching the poor who live in remote locations or “face ethnic, religious, and other kinds of deep‐seated social exclusion” remain.

USAID, in partnership with Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), is to increase funding driven at eliminating malnutrition in developing nations, reports Reuters. As both maternal health and the alleviation of extreme poverty formulate important aspects of the MDGs, this investment is geared toward helping the most vulnerable families improve their quality of life.

In his blog Aidwatchers, (also featured on the Financial Time’s blog) William Easterly criticizes the course taken by world leaders in the development of the MDGs. Easterly maintains that the only way to fuel growth in the developing world is through private investment and trade, and that US trade quotas and subsidies are harming developing nations.

In an op-ed piece for the New York Times, Jeffrey Sachs gives a positive perspective on the progress which has been made toward the MDGs, especially regarding infectious disease. In an additional feature blog post for the Financial Times, Sachs calls for a more “innovative financing” framework to increase aid, such as a new tax on international financial transactions (the Tobin Tax). Europe is on board with such a scheme, but  both the United States and Canada are less than enthusiastic about this proposal.

In a controversial move, Bono’s “One Campaign“, which aims to eradicate extreme poverty through advocacy, recently launched a PR campaign where members of the press received shoe boxes containing items such as Starbucks coffee and leather-bound notebooks, along with a pitch for increased ODA spending. The New York Post reports that boxes were individually delivered and timed to arrive for the debut of the MDG Summit.

There is also much talk of the use of technology in reaching the MDGs. Google, in partnership with UN-Habitat has launched its H2.O Initiative to improve access to clean drinking water, as well as provide a community-oriented approach to data collection with the help of Google Earth, according to the Hindu. On a similar note, the Tedx Program, in collaboration with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, launched the TedxChange on September 20,  reports the Guardian. All over the world, more than 60 public TedxChange Events were organized to discuss the development of the MDGs. Hosted by Melinda Gates, the event was broadcast live via webcam from New York.


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