Reuters AlertNet examines reactions by development experts and advocates to the U.N. Summit on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which wrapped up Wednesday, after world leaders adopted a declaration that "promised intensified efforts by the 192 U.N. member states to achieve the eight goals by 2015."
The article notes that while advocates were in favor of the $40 billion plan to improve maternal and child health announced by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the summit, of which "$27 billion … was new money from governments … many … were disappointed that more money wasn't pumped into the other goals."
The piece also examines criticisms by aid and advocacy groups that the declaration adopted at the summit lacked "a concrete plan on how to achieve each goal," and failed to address certain targets effectively.
"Some say several key issues, such as deep inequalities between rich and poor, were not properly discussed at the summit nor in the resolution, while a number of the agreed actions to solve other problems are 'plain wrong'," the news service writes. The article includes comments from representatives from several aid and advocacy groups (Dmitracova, 9/24).
Meanwhile, the Economist analyzes the challenges associated with using global "goalposts" like the MDG targets to gain an accurate sense of development in individual countries.
On the MDG target relating to poverty, the magazine writes, "A global halving by 2015 seems well within reach. Yet this 'victory' is mainly due to a drop in China's poverty rate from 60% in 1990 to 16% in 2005. Because China and India accounted for over 62% of the planet's poor in 1990, changes to the world's poverty rate depend heavily on their performance. A global goal is therefore a poor way to give the governments of smaller countries an incentive to tackle poverty."
Additionally, the magazine points out, "it is hard to track performance at country level: 28 of the poorest countries have recorded poverty rates for only one year between 1990 and 2008, according to a tally by researchers at the Centre for Global Development … This makes any judgments about their progress mere guesswork."
The magazine writes that "there is something odd about setting uniform targets such as 'cutting child mortality by two-thirds', which means that some countries must do much more to avoid being classed as failures than others." The article notes how Niger, "[b]etween 1990 and 2007 it cut the number of children per 1,000 who died before their fifth birthday from 304 to 176. This was the biggest absolute reduction of any country in the world. But Niger is still judged 'off-track' to meet its target, because continuing at the current rate will still result in a reduction of slightly below two-thirds."
The article details also challenges associated with funding, writing that often MDGs "are reduced to working out how much money is needed to meet a particular target and then berating governments for not spending enough. Yet the countries that have made most progress in cutting poverty have largely done so not by spending public money, but by encouraging faster economic growth" (9/23).
HIV Response Can Aid Progress Toward Other MDGs, U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Says
U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro on Wednesday emphasized the importance of addressing HIV/AIDS to accelerate progress toward reaching the other MDG targets during an event on the sidelines of the U.N. summit, U.N. News Centre reports (9/23).
"Quite simply, we know the HIV response can aid the push towards meeting several MDG goals - empowering women; strengthening partnerships; reducing maternal and child mortality," Migiro said, according to a transcript from the meeting (9/22).
During the "high-level meeting co-hosted by China, South Africa, Nigeria and UNAIDS brought together world leaders including the Premier of China, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia and Ministers from South Africa, Nigeria, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, and Rwanda," leaders "called for a new model of partnership to strengthen the AIDS response and achieve broader health and development outcomes. Without synergy between AIDS and other health and development initiatives, the leaders agreed sustainable progress towards global goals to end poverty and ensuring healthy societies will not be achieved," according to a UNAIDS press release (9/22).
"Preventing mother-to-child transmission can not only save lives, but can also serve as an entry point to health services benefiting the entire family, she pointed out, adding that HIV programmes can also bolster national health systems," according to U.N. News Centre. "'HIV prevention, care, treatment and support help us to reduce vulnerability to poverty,' Ms. Migiro underlined, while children are more likely to stay in school if families affected by the epidemic have access to treatment."
UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe said, "The era of health and development programmes operating in isolation is over. … We have to work together to make this one movement - we cannot afford to have a fragmented approach to health and development. This Africa-China partnership can be the engine that accelerates progress towards the MDGs," he added (9/23).