There have been some really interesting recent reports on achievements in respect of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). I read them--and the way different authors frame results--and wonder what we could really say about the impact of global goals.
First, the Kaiser Family Foundation (http://kff.org/news-summary/new-one-report-examines-correlation-between-spending-progress-on-mdgs-media-analysis-examines-goals-usefulness/) provides quotes from a new ONE report (in the Guardian) and the Christian Science Monitor.
From the Christian Science Monitor we get the message: These goals made a difference ... but don't ask us to quantify what difference they made. Just do the exercise again!
“Aid officials, academics, politicians, and many ordinary people are trying to figure out what will come next,” the Christian Science Monitor writes, continuing, “There will definitely be a continuing global development agenda. … A consensus has emerged because of the MDGs that these sorts of global exercises are worth doing, even if we’ll never be able to measure their impact precisely” (McClanahan, 5/26).
From the ONE report we get a more nuanced perspctive: These goals are useful but many countries are still not coming to the table (which makes one wonder what the goals are useful for?)
“African countries that are allocating a greater share of government spending to health, education and agriculture are making faster progress on achieving the U.N. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) but many nations are still failing to meet their commitments and are lagging behind,” according to the ONE Campaign’s 2013 Data Report released today, The Guardian reports.
Then there is an Oxfam blog (http://blogs.oxfam.org/en/blogs/13-05-16-are-governments-meeting-their-mdg-spending-targets): It tries to keep upbeat but notes that most countries have not spent what was needed to meet the MDGs (so, again, what did the MDGs achieve?)
"The vast majority of developing countries are spending much less than they have committed to, or much less than international organizations have estimated are needed to change lives. Only one third of countries are meeting any education or health goals, and less than 30 per cent are hitting targets for agriculture and Water and Sanitation (WASH) initiatives. To top it off, falling aid commitments, low execution rates, and low recurrent spending have combined to put a real threat to any existing progress."
Here is the picture they use to show how many countries are meeting the MDG spending targets:
Then there are data from the ONE report (Ben Leo's super useful index of MDG achievement... http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/poverty-matters/2013/may/29/millennium-development-goal-progress-data). Again the report tries to be upbeat and notes that a number of African countries have seen progress in the last few years, but by my calculation, when looking across all countries and all MDGs, over 35% of the targets are TOTALY OFF TRACK and about 55% are TOTALLY OFF TRACK OR only PARTIALLY ON TRACK.
It seems to me that the MDGs that are on trck are those that have been influenced by economic growth.... So the message I see is that most of the goals will not be met and we have no real reason to say that the MDG initiative had anything to do with the goals that will be met.
so, what is the value of the MDGs? and what evidence do we have to say that we need to have post 2015 MDGs?
Just asking. Because it's a pretty important question.