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MDG designer fears UN goals will ‘degenerate into wish list’

posted 17 Sept 2013, 04:48 by RCN Uganda
An architect of the UN’s Millennium development Goals (MDGs) says he fears that a lack of strong leadership at the UN could lead to its poverty eradication goals being replaced by an over-politicised and unachievable “wish list” after 2015.

Jan Vandemoortele told EurActiv that UN member states were becoming “uneasy” about discussions on a framework to replace the MDGs in 15 months time, which are due to begin in New York on 22 September

“I am worried that the [post-2015 targets] list is getting overly-politicised and member states are increasingly insisting that it should be limited to an inter-governmental negotiating process and even starting to signal that civil society participation should be toned down,” he said. “We need stronger leadership from somewhere.”

Hard choices had to be made but “in an inter-governmental setting, these decisions will not be taken and we will have an agreed international agenda but no meaning whatsoever,” he added.

Vandemoortele co-wrote the current eight UN MDGs, 18 targets and 40 indicators as a tool to communicate UN objectives emerging from the Millennium Summit in September 2000, such as eradicating extreme poverty and achieving universal primary education.

These were decided by measuring global trends in human development over a 25-year period from 1965-1990, and applying them to living standards over the 1990-2015 period, assuming that rates of progress stayed the same.

The MDGs were not intended to increase rates of progress in human development so much as maintain them. 

“If you demand anything more of that list we are going to get into an endless and unfocused agenda,” Vandemoortele said. “It is going to degenerate into a wish list and then it loses its communication power. If it is not clear, concise and measurable it will be neglected by everyone tomorrow.”

A UN High Level Panel (HLP) recently produced a report containing 12 ‘illustrative goals’ but skipped the more fundamental question of why a new set of targets was needed at all.