Development is a political process. Yet the approach taken to achieving development as set out by the Millennium Development Goals since 2000 is explicitly non-political, favouring a socio-economic set of mainly technical targets. People in fragile countries where political institutions are weak, legitimacy is contested and violence is widespread have made little or no progress. The poorest were left behind.
The outcome of the debates over what replaces the Millennium Development Goals in 2015 is therefore critically important, but it remains diverse with different strands having emerged in isolation to each other. The challenge in front of the Open Working Group - a new inter-governmental group tasked to develop a set of sustainable development goals - is to build on the work of the High Level Panel - a group of eminent persons from governments, civil society and business tasked in 2012 by the UN Secretary General to advise on the global development framework beyond 2015 - while bringing those different strands together.
International Alert has published a discussion paper that sets out our perspective on the debate. We think the report published by the High Level Panel in May 2013 was a game changer, by recognising that development itself is not a socio-economic process but one which is also deeply political. That means it is not possible to achieve the vision of the High Level Panel to eradicate poverty without addressing the relationship people have with their governments. We hope it is a useful contribution.