Sunday, May 19, 2013

Let's tackle inequality head on for development after the MDGs

This is the greatest growing development challenge, and the UN panel still haven't got to grips with it properly

In UN corridors you'll often hear frustrated diplomats whispering that the amount of process around an issue is inversely correlated to the likelihood of achieving anything on it.
The process of replacing the UN's millennium development goals (MDGs) will certainly be a long one: it doesn't end until September 2015. But despite the huge bureaucracy surrounding it, we don't have to accept an outcome based on the lowest common denominator.
The high-level panel set up by the UN secretary general – co-chaired by Britain's prime minister, David Cameron, the Liberian president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and the Indonesian president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono – which is intended to steer the process, meets on Wednesday. The challenge for the panel is to set a new agenda, ignite passions and stimulate the drive that is so desperately needed, rather than delivering a report bogged down by political bargaining.
The model the panel should seek to emulate is that of the Millennium Declaration, the springboard for the MDGs, which changed the way governments and aid agencies work – and how they measure their success – for a generation.
It's not an easy task. The chairs have invested significant time in steering the process, and previous panel meetings in LondonMonrovia and Balihave made steady progress. But we're now at the final hurdle, and this is when things get difficult. The panel has just 15 days left to make its report matter.
We are concerned by reports that early drafts have watered down early ambition. The panel risks falling into the trap of including everything and prioritising nothing, as well as pre-empting the next phase of the deliberations, which will be intergovernmental negotiations lasting at least a year. There will be plenty of time for sweating the small stuff.
Instead, this document needs to set the development agenda for at least the next 15 years, and must therefore inspire governments, the development community and the public to aim higher.
The smartest way to do that is by having a simple idea at the centre – that of setting zero targets. To eradicate hunger, not just halve it. To eliminate preventable deaths, not just reduce them by a fraction. To end absolute income poverty, not simply limit it. This is ambitious; and that's the point. But for the first time it is also achievable. Finishing the job of the MDGs should be the central idea of the report.
The panel's report must also maintain a focus on human development. It sounds obvious, but people must be at the heart of this process. The world is a very different place from the one in which the Millennium Declaration was negotiated. We need the new framework to tackle sustainability, reflect the new sources of finance, and understand the shift in economic power. But the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable people must still be at the centre. Improvements in their lives must be the end we seek.
Finally, and crucially, the report must effectively tackle inequality. This is the greatest growing development challenge, and the panel still haven't got to grips with it properly. The argument that reducing inequality is peripheral to the debate is simply wrong. We cannot eradicate poverty by 2030 without tackling inequality. If we simply rely on optimistic growth patterns, 400 million people will still be living in extreme poverty by that deadline.
The majority of the world's poor now live in middle-income countries where inequality is greatest. This challenge is not going away. Take India, home to almost a third of those living on less than $2 a day. The country is characterised by growing inequalities of income and wealth, which map on to existing inequalities in gender, caste and religion. By 2030, if trends continue – even factoring in strong growth projections – India will still have 275 million people living on less than $2 a day. With a reduction in inequality to 1990 levels, India would be on track to completely eradicate this form of income poverty by the early 2030s. Even on the much criticised $1.25 a day measure of poverty, trends would mean that without addressing inequality 16 million people in India would still be under that line by 2030.
So, with two weeks to go, the panel has big issues to tackle or risk their conclusions being outdated before the framework is even agreed. To inspire a new generation they must remain bold and focused. To be relevant and effective they must tackle inequality head on. Drafts are meant to be revised, so it's not too late. But the panel have lots of sleepless nights ahead of them.
• Brendan Cox is director of policy and advocacy at Save the Children


Unknown said...

Thank you so much... your blog is giving very useful knowledge for all.i didn’t have the knowledge in this now i get an idea about this..
thks a lot:-)To know more credit card to cash

Blogger said...

SwagBucks is an high paying get-paid-to site.


Nice blog...
Web Development Company in India


Thanks for sharing this great Post....!
Website Development Company in India


Much obliged for a such wonderfull blog yours...!
Mobile Application Development Platforms


Appreciative for such brilliant blog yours...!
Wordpress Development Company in India