Development’s drivers

MIDWAY through the time-frame for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) world leaders set forth in 2000, an arduous challenge lies ahead, according to a recent United Nations progress report.

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Published: Sat 7 Jul 2007, 8:56 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 12:53 AM

While there has been clear progress towards implementing the MDGs, according to the update, their overall success remains far from assured.

The report calls for sustained action on the eight core objectives of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, ensuring gender equality, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS and other diseases, ensuring environmental sustainability, and developing a global partnership for development.

Progress on these vital fronts requires, as the report candidly underscores, a combination of strong government leadership, prudent policies, practical strategies for scaling up public investments in vital areas and adequate financial and technical support from the international community.

Over the last seven years, there has been clear progress towards increasing primary school enrolment, reducing child mortality and — to lesser degrees — reducing poverty and ensuring gender equality. Still, some 980 million people live on less than $1 a day. Moreover, most developed countries have done little to honour their commitments to provide adequate financing for the MDGs.

This ‘compliance deficit’ has focused attention on the crucial role non-government organisations (NGOs) — both national and international — can play. A recent conference in Geneva discussed how the systematic and active participation of NGOs in the MDGs initiative could prove useful in holding governments accountable — individually and collectively — every step of the way.

Admittedly, this optimism stems from the remarkable record these ‘non-state actors’ have established. In the past decade alone, NGOs have successfully promoted new global agreements in such diverse areas as protecting the environment, strengthening women’s rights and banning anti-personnel landmines.

They continue to lead an array of initiatives around the world by building coalitions and transferring expertise.

In recognition of their contribution, the United Nations Economic and Social Council has introduced reforms that envisage greater involvement of NGOs in international development policies. By harnessing the efficiency and dynamism of NGOs, governments stand a good chance of accelerating progress towards achieving the MDGs by the 2015 deadline.

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