This year is going to be very exciting. The United Nations (meaning all of us) will go around the table to determine development goals. Do you remember the Millennium Development Goals? The logos will probably ring a bell. For years, this has been the framework of development work. But a goal always comes with a deadline, and that date is where we are now. It is 2015, and the balance is drawn up: How did we score and what new goals can we formulate?
The latest report is not entirely positive. Perhaps that was to be expected, since the first goal is “Eradicating extreme poverty and hunger.” Poverty rates are halved, and there has been progress on the other goals as well. But the results are unevenly distributed across the world. In 2010, a third of the extremely poor people lived in India. One third! The overwhelming majority of poor people live in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Seen against these figures, the MDGs may come across as too optimistic and simplistic. However, drawing up such large-scale targets is in fact inevitable. It stems from the realization that our society, our human family, is irrevocably connected through of the global economy, migration, the Internet, etcetera. Furthermore, we live on the same planet and we suffer from each other’s environmental pollution. Thinking about goals is a way to get people together. Governments, industry, academics, and for the first time on this scale also the ‘ordinary’ people. An outcome of this is the reportA million voices: The world we want.
What makes this year so special is that this process will be completed in September. There will be new goals then: The Sustainable Development Goals. Ban Ki-moon kicked off the year with a publication. These are some themes that stood out for me:
Climate change. The people who are most affected by climate change live in developing countries. Look at Malawi for instance, where there are now heavy floods after two years of drought. This is an issue where global cooperation is the only way forward.
Dignity. Development is for everyone. A goal is achieved only when it is achieved for all groups in society. This means that there is no discrimination on things like gender, disability or ethnicity.
Data revolution. The possibilities to collect, analyse and present data are getting bigger. This is already used a lot by development organizations. If the data is openly accessible, it leads to greater transparency and accountability on the progress of the goals.
The Open Working Group proposal counts no less than 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Certainly enough to keep us busy for another 15 years!