Efforts towards tackling grand challenges are culminated in the creation of global frameworks. Examples of global frameworks include the Sustainable Development Goals, the New Urban Agenda, and the Sendai Framework. These global frameworks aim to empower States into incorporating efforts domestically. However, because frameworks merely provide guidance to stakeholders on a specific issue, there is no legally binding obligation upon the Member State to incorporate the practices of global frameworks domestically. This proves to be problematic at the monitoring and implementation stage. This was increasingly true for the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s), a set of eight goals focused on addressing grand challenges including education and poverty eradication.
The MDG’s fell short of meeting its’ goals and therefore have received much criticism. In “MDGs After 2015: Some Reflections on the Possibilities,” Deepak Nayyar criticizes the effectiveness of the Millennium Development Goals, but also provides important imperatives regarding the succession of the MDG’s. Nayyar criticizes the MDG’s for their (1) multiplicity of objectives; (2) lack of specificity of objectives; and (3) misleading indicators. I found it especially interesting that the MDG targets were used a scale for assessing individual State performance, while they were meant to measure collective performance. This is precisely why the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda adopted specific goals, targets and indicators to inform stakeholders. Nayyar also addresses three important imperatives in exploring alternative constructs to the MDG’s. He notes that it is imperative that (1) there is structural flexibility at the national level; (2) there is cognition of inequality in any assessment of outcomes; and (3) the new MDG framework incorporates something on means rather than simply focus on ends.
The Sustainable Development Goals deliver upon Nayyar’s imperatives. While the SDG’s are an improvement on the broad themes of the MDG’s, the SDG’s are already facing criticism in regards to its’ monitoring and evaluation capabilities via the HLPF.
Monitoring and evaluation of international frameworks will continue to be problematic. It is increasingly difficult to monitor and evaluate the process toward eradicating global challenges, given the national differences and inequalities among nations, as well as the institutional hurdles. The HLPF will serve as a test for the implementation and monitoring of the SDG’s.
In my opinion, due to very nature of global frameworks, there will always be critics. These critics do not take into account the importance of an interconnected global world focused on tackling grand challenges. While, of course, improvements can always be made, the current trajectory toward inclusive sustainable development seems promising. This is evident in the shift from the MDG’s to the SDG’s.