The agenda, as usual, is full and widely ranging.
Anyone who has ever worked for the United Nations can attest to a shared sense of frustration and optimism about what outcomes might be realised.
Success or failure? Dysfunction and broken beyond repair, or best available outcome with seeking consensus among such a disparate collection of global citizens? The answer to these questions will never be settled, but one thing is for sure is the massive convening power that the United Nations has brought since its inception many years ago on 24 October following the end of the Second World War.
The Millennium Development Goals are an aspirational list of eight objectives unanimously agreed upon by all member states in 2000 to reduce 1990 levels of poverty by two-thirds before 2015. The deadline is next year, and the writing is already on the wall in terms of success that has been achieved.
The result is more than simply a pass/fail scorecard. The goals were always aspirational in nature, but within reach. One of those goals, Goal 4: Reduce Child Mortality, is the key focus on the 10 City Bridge Run.
In many cases, there are great stories of progress and success, but the distribution of this is unequally experienced. The results in some countries remains troubling.
Papua New Guinea is one country which is unlikely to meet its stated objectives.
Other countries remain at high levels of poverty, despite being extremely rich in minerals. Sierra Leone has the highest rate of child mortality, but is the biggest producer of diamonds in the world. How can this be? It doesn’t seem to make sense.
My friend Edison, who was a journalist from Sierra Leone, and spent time in jail for his political views, has spent a little bit of time telling me about the background to conflict in the country, and helping me to try to understand why problems there should be so bad. What was the cause of so much ill-health and poverty, I wondered? Now, also with Ebola to contend with.
His answer surprised me. What one thing is the biggest problem?, I asked, expecting him to provide some answer like fresh water, or medicine. “Corruption” he said. “It is the biggest killer, the biggest problem. While corruption is still there, nothing will change.”
The same answer is true to for child mortality. If that is the case, then how to improve the delivery of child survival? This is a question we are hoping to contend with across the next couple of months.
Meanwhile, the United Nations are discussing the Post 2015 Development Framework.
This doesn’t change the fact that child mortality is a problem.
Why does it matter how things are measured beyond 2015? Why not just keep the old MDG and push a little harder?
“United Nations is preparing a new sustainable development framework with its member states as the Millennium Development Goal (MDGs) will get end in 2015. Speakers also urged to adopt a strong, inclusive and legitimate Post 2015 framework to success the Millennium Development Goals.” But what does this actually mean, or is it just a room full of well-dressed bureaucrats word-smithing a strategic document?
It does matter, and it is not just a word game.
The outcome will need to be focused on rights, transparency, addressing corruption, and a framework that is grounded in sustainability. The question will be whether countries will use their diplomatic jockeying for other issues of a security nature to influence or block resolve and consensus for a strong and cohesive result. It might sound like a lot of hot air, but these will be a guiding strategic tool for the next couple of decades. The work in New York this week is important, make no mistake.
To give an insight into the complexity, here is the extract from a recent press release. You can see from reading this, that the simplicity of eight MDG was remarkable when now looking at the intricacies of competing ethical concerns. All are important, but if it has everything it risks being meaningless, and if it is reduced to a couple of bullet-points, it risks being toothless.
“The post 2015 framework must reinforce international human rights commitments, laws and standards, fight injustice and address how its goals will allow for a progressive realization of rights. It must embrace a rights-based approach to development based on equality, equity and non-discrimination, and ensure the rights of people to participate fully in society and in decision-making, Ahmed Swapan emphasized.
Ahmed Swapan also said that developed countries must comply with their commitment to provide 0.7 per cent of their gross national product (GNP) and the unfinished business and they should align and harmonize their activities to avoid competitions and to be refraining from service overlapping. There should also be more transparency and accountability in delivering services to the communities for whom development is meant.
Pratima Paul Majumder said that United Nations must emphasize women rights in the Post 2015 development framework. She also demanded that government should include gender equality and women rights as priority area in new framework. The post 2015 framework must recognize the global resource constraints and aim at a more equitable distribution of resources, including how it meets the rights and needs of future and present generations.
She urged to ensure decent work environment and living wages for the women labour. She questioned the present mode of corporate based development which is unfavorable for realization of women rights. This model has particularly worsen life and livelihood of rural, indigenous and migrant women.
The Post-2015 framework must be underpinned by the strongest, most robust and comprehensive accountability framework possible, incorporating the commitment to monitor and report on progress and share learning and knowledge.
Alison Subrata Baroi focused on reducing inequality within and among countries which is essential for transformation while he proposed for ensuring progressive taxation and tax governance as a way out of challenges mobilizing own resources for financing development in post 2015. Alison also said that the Post-2015 framework cannot afford an approach that promotes growth at all costs without considering human rights and environmental implications. The framework must demonstrate coherence and integration across the environmental, economic and social dimensions of different goals and targets. He also emphasized access to justice and governance that should be enshrined in Post 2015 framework.”
Working toward the start of the G20 Summit in Seoul when I will set of with the first steps of the 10 City Bridge Run. 240 km ahead of me across 10 cities in 10 countries within the space of one month.
Previously on this blog I looked at Millennium Development Goals (MDG) 1 through 6, and then made a summary of what looks to be a massive deficit in achieving this seemingly impossible objective. Can it be done, and does it matter?
I was fortunate to attend a City of Sydney presentation on the MDG last week which gave good insights to understanding the MDG in perspective which I made mention of in this blog post.
Continuing this list of MDG, today I turn to MDG 7: Ensuring Environmental Sustainability. This is one MDG which is not looking like being addressed successfully. It covers many broad areas that are affected by bigger sustainability issues.
This MDG has four targets:
- Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes and reverse the loss of environmental resources
- Reduce biodiversity loss, achieving, by 2010, a significant reduction in the rate of loss
- Halve, by 2015, the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation
- By 2020, to have achieved a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers
Here are comments from the United Nations on progress and challenges:
- The rate of deforestation shows signs of decreasing, but is still alarmingly high
- A decisive response to climate change is urgently needed
- The world has missed the 2010 target for biodiversity conservation, with potentially grave consequences
- Key habitats for threatened species are not being adequately protected
- The number of species facing extinction is growing by the day, especially in developing countries
- Overexploitation of global fisheries has stabilized, but steep challenges remain to ensure their sustainability
- Safe water supply remains a challenge in many parts of the world
- With half the population of developing regions without sanitation, the 2015 target appears to be out of reach
- Disparities in urban and rural sanitation coverage remain daunting
- Improvements in sanitation are bypassing the poor
- Slum improvements, though considerable, are failing to keep pace with the growing ranks of the urban poor
- Slum prevalence remains high in sub-Saharan Africa and increases in countries affected by conflict
Is it just me, or does it astound you too due to the following statistics. How can it be that in our world of technology, convenience and accessible luxury that this should be the case? Go figure! Next time you get delayed standing waiting for your skim-soy-decaf-latte, count yourself lucky and enjoy the privilege of knowing at the end of the queue is anything you care to order:
- 2.6 billion people lack access to basic sanitation services, such as toilets or latrines.
- The world has missed the 2010 target for biodiversity conservation. Based on current trends, the loss of species will continue throughout this century.
- Slum improvements are failing to keep pace with the growing number of urban poor. The absolute number of slum dwellers keeps rising.