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The post-2015 MDGs: to which tribe do you belong?

June 25, 2012

Discussions about how or whether to replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), after they “expire” in 2015 are gathering pace. I have argued elsewhere that although it is perhaps unlikely to produce a model that will satisfy those of a progressive disposition, the discussion itself is valuable, as it provides an opportunity to debate what “development means” among a wider group of people than are normally involved.

Dorine E Van Norren recently published an interesting article outlining how the MDGs might be expanded and made more useful as a communication tool. Specifically, for communicating a deeper and broader analytical narrative of what “development means”.

She also identifies, rather neatly, four categories of people with regards their perceptions of the MDGs:

  • Optimists: those who see the items contained in the MDGs as key to change
  • Strategic realists, who are happy to use the flawed MDGs to hold politicians’ feet to the fire over their commitment to poverty reduction
  • Sceptics like myself, who doubt the utility of the MDGs and question whether they represent human development effectively
  • Radical critics, for whom the MDGs represent a waste of space and the failure of the system.

Her article spurred me not only to self-identify as a member of the Sceptics tribe with an eye on how my cousins the Radical Critics and Strategic Realists are getting on, but also to identify four broad categories of questions which those with an interest in the post-2015 MDG agenda are debating. These are, grosso modo:

  1. Ideology: how should we define development or human progress?
  2. Purpose: if we truly need the MDGs or something to take their place, what are they for?
  3. Model: once we have decided on the purpose of the post-MDG thing, what kind of framework is most suitable for this purpose?
  4. Process: what is the right and legitimate process through which to articulate the answers to questions 1-3, and who should be involved?

Big questions, all. And clearly in the right order. Provided that after developing one’s own, or one’s organisation’s answers to all four, one answers them all again, following the process defined in response to question four.  And so on until the music stops….

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. post2015 permalink
    July 2, 2012 10:09 am

    Reblogged this on Post2015.org – what comes after the MDGs?.

  2. July 2, 2012 11:00 am

    Nice post. Also good to remember the formation behind of MDG 1.0–why certain goals were finally left out

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