Global Strategic Frameworks like the MDGs and SDGs are important tools in garnering international attention and support for inclusive sustainable development. Yet, it is important to recognize their challenges and limitations.
The Millennium Development Goals (2000-2015) aimed to eradicate poverty around the world and were successful in starting the conversation surrounding global sustainable development on international, national, and local levels. Despite their clear goals, targets, and indicators, the MDGs had many challenges. As discussed in our first two class sessions, the MDGs had a one-size-fits-all approach to development that lacked consideration of cultural, political, and historical contexts as well as the lack of inclusivity in its goals, targets, and indicators. Moreover, the MDGs did not specifically consider the almost one billion people in the world with disabilities in the conversation regarding development.In addition, they assumed that all countries would be able to achieve all goals 100% at the end of the timeline. Lastly, the goals lacked an inclusive approach by not including disability-inclusive goals.
At the conclusion of the MDGs, the United Nations General Assembly convened a High-level Meeting on Disability and Development with the theme titled “The way forward: a disability inclusive development agenda towards 2015 and beyond.” THis UNGA High-level meeting brought together international leaders to highlight core principles and values, which resulted in support for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) as well as the MDGs, but emphasized the need for disability-inclusive development goals moving forward. The next development agenda had the opportunity to meet the needs of persons with disabilities, which ultimately resulted in the Sustainable Development Goals (2015-2030). Similar to the CRPD, the SDGs are strongly rooted in a human rights framework that promotes the rights of persons with disabilities in development. The SDGs expanded the 8 broad goals of the MDGs from 8 to 17. They also introduced more participation from NGOs and other non-state actors, as well as allowed for each country to be flexible in which goals they focused on, which depends on their context and needs. Most critically, they brought inclusivity to the forefront of sustainable development.
Looking at the challenges to these global frameworks, many countries view the SDGs and similar frameworks as ways to evaluate and rank their countries, rather than being viewed as a working goal. Similarly, global strategic frameworks can appear to be too theoretical. In other words, those struggling with basic needs may view these goals as too abstract and not as realistic. Despite these challenges, global strategic frameworks are important in guiding the world towards inclusive sustainable development.