From the MDGs to the NUA: Evolution of Global Frameworks

As one way to respond to Grand Challenges, the global frameworks we have studied are by no means perfect. But, I claim that they are the best that we have and that optimism can be found in the fact that with each new framework, we seen an evolution toward a more inclusive idea of development and how we wish to see the world.

Our initial global framework for global development was the GDP, which simply measured the income of a country. From there, we were able to grow into a more inclusive understanding of development with the introduction of the Millennium Development Goals, meant to take on challenges such as eradicating poverty by 2015. Clearly, we have not reached that point yet, making the point that these frameworks are not perfect. In addition, the Millennium Goals were not as clear with their targets and not as inclusive as they should have been. For example, there was no mention of persons with disabilities.

However, from the Millennium Development Goals came the more inclusive and specific SDGs, after which came the CRPD, and the NUA, all of which outlined goals even more inclusive of all people, with more specific targets, and with the potential for increased sustainability. As we move forward, each of these frameworks becomes more and more successful. Each of these documents has redefined development in a more progressive way.

An additional challenge stems from the fact that international law is incredibly difficult to enforce. While we have the International Court of Justice, it is difficult to navigate and often shaky in its role. What we can count on though, is the desire of nations to maintain norms, moral expectations and standards, and to meet the expectations of the United Nations rather than to come under scrutiny at the feet of the international community. The power of this desire is shown through the many successful laws and treaties upheld by the UN as well as by the large numbers in which countries sign and ratify the documents that become global frameworks.

While they are not perfect, the global frameworks we have continue to grow, evolve, and succeed.