Opportunities and Limitations in Global Strategic Frameworks

Global Strategic Frameworks like the Millennium Development Goals and Sustainable Development Goals are important pieces in the puzzle of development because they are good for marketing ideas internationally and setting a standard for where the world should head, but it is essential that we examine their limitations for inclusive development.

The Millennium Development Goals, created for 2000-2015, were successful in starting a global movement for sustainable development. The 8 main goals were: Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger, Achieve Universal Primary Education, Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women, Reduce Child Mortality, Improve Maternal Health, Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and Other Diseases, Ensure Environmental Sustainability, and Global Partnership for Development, and though the UN outlined targets and indicators for each there were still many critics of the goals. The MDGs did not acknowledge that all countries were starting at different levels and therefore prescribed  one-size fits all targets for everyone partaking. There was also a lack of inclusive language (and language mentioning persons with disabilities) in the goals, targets, and indicators. The indicators and measurements from the MDGs have also been criticized; for example, for Universal Primary Education they only measured enrollment rates–which in the case of some countries led to severe overcrowding in schools and a large decline in the quality of education.

At the conclusion of the MDGs, there were many lessons learned which helped the United Nations make big, impactful changes for the Sustainable Development Goals. One of the most important was the inclusion of persons with disabilities because of a high level meeting on disability and development. So, what opportunities do global strategies and frameworks generate? They offer an opportunity for growth toward the future, and give groups something to focus on for the time being. Without the MDGs and subsequent SDGs, there would be no globally agreed upon path forward.

As with everything though, there are inherent limitations with global frameworks, one of the biggest being that these frameworks and strategies are very theoretical and only important to people in academia. People living in slums in India are not thinking about the SDGs, they are focused on feeding their families and pulling themselves out of poverty. Taking this into account, I still feel as though these types of frameworks are important–especially for global awareness raising and fundraising.