MDGs Now and Beyond – Power of Effective Partnerships

April 22, 2013 By Zach Silberman

With less than 1,000 days until the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), it seems the whole world – and Washington – is talking about what’s next for global development. One thing is for certain: the MDGs galvanized the global community to work together towards improving the lives of those in the developing world and represent a significant step towards a more global approach to development.  Within these eight goals, there are some clear successes, but there are also several areas that will need to make considerable progress, and quickly. Sustaining these gains and achieving additional successes is important, but what comes next for the global development agenda will be crucial to the future of developing countries.

The world can be proud of its successes in the MDGs, particularly on combating extreme poverty.  Even with the global recession, this goal was reached five years in advance of the deadline, and 600 million people are now living above $1.25 a day (the indicator for extreme poverty).  That being said, the World Bank predicts that one billion people will still be living on less than $1.25 a day when the calendar strikes 2015, so extreme poverty is and will continue to be a problem unless additional action is taken.  As for the MDGs that are lagging behind, two in particular stand out: reducing childhood mortality by two-thirds and reducing maternal mortality by three-quarters by 2015.  The severity of these problems continues to greatly impact the developing world.  According to the World Health Organization, “6.9 million children under the age of five died in 2011,” while every day, “approximately 800 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth.”

In order to continue the momentum of achievements, the global community is actively working to devise a post-2015 development agenda that will pick up where the MDGs left off.  Recently, the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Agenda, which is a group of 27 members that are advising the Secretary-General on the global development framework beyond 2015, released a statement from its most recent meeting outlining needed areas of progress in order to implement a successful post-2015 agenda.  The need to eliminate extreme poverty is not just a high priority for this global body, but you’ll remember that President Obama committed America to joining “with our allies to eradicate such extreme poverty in the next two decades” in his 2013 State of the Union Address.

What comes next?

It appears the sky is the limit when it comes to what civil society, governments, academia, and others think should be included in the global development agenda 2.0.  Save the Children has called for the post-2015 MDGs to ensure that progress is distributed equitably throughout societies in the developing world.  CARE has written about the need for “a strong focus on women’s empowerment and gender equality,” and Oxfam emphasized the international community needs to encourage greater participation by civil society organizations to improve the national mechanisms that can better achieve these goals locally.  John W. McArthur of the UN Foundation has called for more attention to the environment, noting the impact on “the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people, the growing number of middle-income countries with tremendous internal poverty challenges, and rapidly spreading noncommunicable diseases.”

One thing seems certain, the role of partnerships is increasingly important for any future goals – and those struggling to cross the 2015 finish line. John Podesta, former Chief of Staff for President Clinton, who currently serves as the U.S. representative to the High-Level Panel, emphasizes any “post-2015 agenda… must recognize that we will not eradicate extreme poverty without building more effective partnerships between governments, NGOs, philanthropy, and the private sector.”

Make no mistake; the next 1,000 days will be crucial for achieving and sustaining the MDGs. It is also the time when the world will decide upon the next round of goals, and the United States has the opportunity to be a leader in the process. Let’s find a way to cross the finish line and bring those one billion people who live day-to-day on $1.25 out of poverty, while also helping mothers and children live healthier lives.