Reflections on the UN Summit on the Millennium Development Goals

As we expected, the summit has ended with commitments of more funding, and a big push to get as far as possible in meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. But there is also widespread recognition that they will not be met, and that the international community still needs to face up to the challenge of how best to help people and institutions in fragile contexts to make sustainable progress.

Alert’s voice has consistently been raised in support of a major rethink, because the MDG framework too often leads people in the wrong directions. This is why we released our report Working with the grain, before the summit, and to some extent, reading between the lines of the Summit Outcomes document, our analysis has been accepted. This is an important and necessary step.

We are therefore pleased to see that the Summit has tasked the UN to start work on a new framework, so that as we approach 2015 the international community can do a better job of supporting the development of values and institutions which are so intrinsic to real development. But our optimism is tinged with caution, as we have seen so many times before how hard it is to get agreement internationally, once we start to discuss the real meaning of human progress.

So we will continue advocating on this issue, adding our voice to the debate over the next few months and years, to ensure as far as we can that we replace the MDGs with a framework that is more fit for the purpose.