The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were presented at the Millenium Summit of the United Nations in 2000. These goals addressed global challenges such as the eradication of poverty and hunger, environmental sustainability, and to develop global partnerships for development. Prior to the implementation of these goals from 1980 to 2000, the developed world experienced economic growth and an increase in economic inequity. The MDGs aimed to expand the benefits of development to excluded and deprived populations. The MDGs introduced a new monitoring mechanism to hold national governments and the international community responsible for ensuring goals were accompanied with action.
A major limitation for the achievement of the MDGs was accountability. Many developing countries where these challenged persisted, lacked resources and a voice to truly implement programs towards goal achievement. Furthermore, the dominant ideology regarding the success of the MDGs was linked with economic growth, aid, and sound governance. This view is limiting because it isolates economics from politics and society.
While the MDGs focused on long-term goals, short-term targets and processes are not clearly defined. The global framework for development also set a one-size-fit-all model for development, assuming all countries were at the same starting point. The transition path was undefined, which painted goals as idealistic and unachievable. Monitoring processes were also highly quantitative and depended upon statistical data to determine progress. While quantitative data can say a lot about a countries development, it does not fully reflect the well-being of vulnerable populations and in cases where data is inaccessible.
While the MDGs were deemed unsuccessful, they provided a framework and a global opportunity for improvement and cooperation. With the international community and national governments aware of the limitations of the MDGs, the framework still provided a point of reference and vast opportunities for reconfiguration. The 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS) served as the replacement agenda for the 2015 Millennium Development Goals. The SDGs aimed to fill in the gaps of the MDGs by proposing greater short-term targets and indicators of development. The SDGs also place high important on global partnerships between all sectors of society, especially amongst the private and public sector.
Nayyar, Deepak. (2012). UN System Task Team on the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda. UN Expert Group. New York.
One global framework that we can analyze in intense detail is the Millennium Development Goals. These 8 goals were put in place by the United Nations in 2000 and were set to be achieved by the year 2015. These goals were groundbreaking in that they called attention to nations largest challenges and gave not only countries but NGOs, business, and political leaders clear goals to work towards. The 15 year time frame was also an extremely important factor in that it was long enough to make achieving the goals somewhat feasible while still being short enough to keep the world leaders interests for their respected time in office. However, the MGDs were not met by 2015 as they lacked certain qualities that I believe the SDGs improve upon. The MDGs lacked specific targets and indicators that countries could universally use to determine their progress. It is also important to note that the SDGs expanded to 17 goals in order to encompass a wider range of detailed societal issues our global is facing today. One of the biggest limitation with these type of overarching strategies is that applying lofty goals to diverse regions and countries posses problems, along with the ever facing issue of the UN is that there is no penalty for not meeting these goals.
Global Strategic Frameworks, and in this case specifically the Millennium Development Goals, have certain opportunities as well as limitations. While this post will focus on the limitations of these global strategic frameworks, it is important to note that even failures within them show us where to improve and demonstrate a desire to do so in the first place. On that note, the Millennium Development Goals were not reached. It is that simple. There are many arguments as to why but one of the most important that was heavily addressed in the Sustainable Development Goals was what and how the Millennium Development Goals measured initiatives and outcomes. One example of this is Goal 2 of the MDGs: Achieve universal primary education, was measured by enrollment rates and how many students attended school each day. While numerically, many country’s rates of student enrollment increased, it did not measure the quality of education they received as a result of rapid school building projects to achieve Goal 2.
Another argument, rooted in the one before, is that the MDGs were more useful to donors and program initiators then the governments behind them. Because these goals were largely drafted without the input of the developing nations that would be receiving the aid, the language was drafted in a way to benefit investors and donors than to be clear to locals or government officials.
Finally, the immediately obvious difference between the MDGs and SDGs is the number of goals. The MDGs lumped many things into single categories, not emphasizing certain issues enough. This has hopefully been addressed by separating many of these categories into their own entities in the SDGs.
Since the SDGs were adopted as a global framework in 2015, many have attempted to evaluate the success of the Millennium Development Goals in achieving goals of:
- to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger;
- to achieve universal primary education;
- to promote gender equality and empower women;
- to reduce child mortality;
- to improve maternal health;
- to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases;
- to ensure environmental sustainability; and
- to develop a global partnership for development.
While based on empirical data, each of these eight goals was advanced during the time period of 2000 to 2015, the question as to whether or not the existence of the Millennium Development Goals directly accelerated progress in each area remains to be seen. According to Brookings, the clearest victories of the MDGs were in lives saved. During the MDG era, accelerated progress in addressing child mortality, maternal mortality, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis saved an estimated 21 million extra lives. In addition to saving lives, the MDG period saw significantly increased participation in education, access to potable water, and nutrition in some regions (Sub-Saharan Africa in particular), with stagnated progress in others.
But did the Millenium Development Goals play a significant role in sparking accelerations in achievement in the 8 key issue areas, or would increasing rates of international cooperation achieved these same gains without the framework? This is the central question for the efficacy of UN frameworks as a whole. Many critics of the Millenium Development Goals often cite the fact that many of the nations that achieved progress in the areas, were already on track for progress well before the adoption of the framework. While this is a valid criticism in the case of China and India, nations in Africa experienced rapid progress towards the goals that they were not on track to achieve before the adoption. Therefore, the success of the Millenium Development Goals as a global framework is contestable. But, one thing that’s clear is that in order to ensure the success of the SDGs, research has to be done in order to identify which types of government, public sector, and private sector actions contributed to advancement towards the goals.
 Rasmussen, John. “How Successful Were The Millennium Development Goals?.” Brookings. N. p., 2017. Web. 8 Dec. 2017.
During Millennium Summit of the UN in 2000 eight international development goals for the year 2015 that were established known as the Millennium Development Goals. MDG became a global strategic framework for 191 member states of the UN and 22 international organizations that committed themselves to achieve the 8 MDG goals by 2015. Each goal had specific targets and dates to achieve them. The significance of MDG was that it was an explicit recognition by the international community of the reality that that a large proportion of people in the world were deprived and poor, and it became a global attempt to place this persistent problem on the development agenda for international cooperation. To what extent was is it successful? By the end at least 21 million extra lives were saved. Number of lives were saved on child mortality, maternal mortality, HIV/AIDs and tuberculosis. However, despite these successes the MDG global framework had its limitations. One of the biggest critiques of its consequences was it didn’t include marginalized and vulnerable groups. In result, gender inequality persists, there are big gaps between the rich and poor households, and children with disabilities are excluded.
Thus, global frameworks, such as MDGs, have a huge number of opportunities, but also a number of limitations: First of all, these frameworks are a great way to unify all state and non-state actors towards international cooperation. They tend to set norms and values in terms of operation. They act as a form of peer pressure that will increase debate in the communities. It’s a great advantage for many non-state actors such as NGOs because of all the funding and resources that is provided, the fundamental research that has already been done, and the understanding of global standards. However, despite these advantages there are also a number of limitations that are inherent in these global agendas in terms of conception and design. One of the biggest problems with global agendas such as MDGs is they are set without the proper representation and participation of the members of the group that has been affected (nothing about us without us), and thus they can’t and dont’t take into consideration many areas. In addition, usually these global agendas include multiple objectives without specific ways in implementing these goals(MDG’s). Resulting in many issues such as how do you implement and enforce these policies, and then how do you follow up with the progress. Thus, it creates a constant need for modification and new enforcements.
International frameworks at both the global and regional levels have a number of pros and cons. Firstly, they are always challenged, no matter the positives and other negatives, by a need for adequate funding in order to achieve whatever goals are being set out. As noted by the global charity Trocaire, just before the United Nations summit to ratify the Sustainable Development Goals, the World Bank has estimated the Sustainable Development Goals will cost trillions of dollars. Government agencies, then and now, have not committed the estimated trillions of dollars that are necessary to achieve the SDGs, rather governments have chosen to lean on the private sector as one way to fill the funding gap. This lack of funding not only continues to impact the Sustainable Development Goals, but shows a pattern since lack of funding also impacted the Millennium Develop Goals. A retrospective by the United Nations highlighted the fact that the Millennium Develop Goals did not provide an outline for a process, including funding mechanisms, as how to achieve the MDGs. Now, the Sustainable Development Goals have become an amorphous pick and mix of issues, that have improved on the MDGs by adding specific targets, yet continue to lack a clear funding mechanism for achieving the agreed targets.
One other bright spot with regard to the Sustainable Development Goals is that, in spite of the lack of focus, or maybe because of the lack of focus, persons with disabilities have been integrated into several SDGs through the use of specific language. Inclusive language referencing “for all” is used as well when persons with disabilities are not specified within a particular SDG. This achievement follows on the heels of the ratification of the CRPD, and movements by the UK’s Department for International Development, the US Agency for International Development, the Nordic counties, the Australian Development Agency, and the German international aid agency to all include persons with disabilities in development programs. The language in the Sustainable Development Goals, that was agreed to by the UN’s membership, will continue moving the importance of development for persons with disabilities forward even if the Sustainable Development Goals do not provide a specific funding mechanism just as the Millennium Develop Goals did not.
Intersectionality in international development is a gathering of different identities and actors to work together to tie together core concepts of development. This is essential for meeting the sustainable development goals before the year 2030 because with the inclusion of all of the concerned subjects of development, the interests of the entire population can be met. In the United Nations Major Groups Framework, there are nine categories that are represented in the decision making of the development policies. Having nine groups encompasses a majority of the groups affected, but these categories are also limiting in terms of who is represented.
In international developmental organizations, the task of resolving international issues is a challenging one, and often the biggest difficulty is making sure that the interests of all concerned groups are met. By having nine groups, it limits the amount of actors present at the decision making table and makes it easier to pass unanimous actions. However, if there are people that are still not represented in the projects and who do not see the benefits of development, then the efficiency gained in having less actors leads to a loss of effectiveness of the programs. The Major Groups Framework tried addressing these issues by including specific groups in the official language and keeping it open to “other stakeholders,” keeping it vague enough to include any multitude of groups. Another way that the UNMGF includes all of the groups is by jointly categorizing groups (i.e. instead of having a separate category for the LGBTQA community, they would be included under the nine groups that compose the UNMGF). The main issue with this is hierarchy, where some groups are given more importance than others, which causes political dissent among the different actors over who should be given priority in developmental issues.
This is still a major barrier to international development and is a main criticism of the way the system works, but it is critical to find a way to maintain intersectionality and efficiency in the global frameworks to find ways to meet the sustainable development goals before the 2030 deadline.
In 2001 the Millennium Development Goals were developed in order try and eliminate some of the world’s greatest problems such as inequality, poverty, hunger, and poor maternal health. While there was some success, critics call into question the effectiveness of the MDGs, as well as the effectiveness of global strategic frameworks. Critics argued that the MDGs (and most global strategic frameworks) employ broad goals that do not take into account national needs. Other critics argue that the MDGs employ a vertical approach that does not partner with local organizations or hold actors accountable. These critiques of the MDGs and global strategic frameworks are important because they highlight some of the problems associated with top down development. Global strategic frameworks have many limitations because they are usually general but the needs of countries are varied and diverse, especially when it comes to development. Some critics also view global strategic frameworks such as the MDGs as the Global North telling the Global South what to do, even though the Global North exploited the Global South during the colonial period. Global strategic frameworks are also hard to enact because they are not legally binding. Therefore, the amount that countries participate is up to them and some countries participate much more than others.
While global strategic frameworks have some limitations, they also provide many opportunities. Using a global strategic framework, countries can work together to try and solve problems. Through organizations like the UN, developing countries can participate in creating development initiatives and trying to resolve major global issues. Through global strategic frameworks different countries with different perspectives, but similar goals can share knowledge and best practices, and collaborate on different goals. In order to be more successful, global strategic frameworks should acknowledge critique and take into account the individualized needs of different countries, while still trying to realize their goals on a global scale. Countries can also adopt the spirits of international documents such as CEDAW and The CRPD. Through adopting the spirit of those documents, countries can attempt to make them a reality by enacting them. These documents outline specific goals to make the world a more accepting and inclusive place and by adopting them, countries can address the specific needs that exist within the country, while still participating in a global strategic framework. The more connected international conventions are to strategic global frameworks, the more successful they will be.
Global strategic frameworks are goals that are discussed and set up by international organizations that should be realized on a global scale. They can be measurable goals with a concrete timeline. Some examples may be the Millennium Development Goals and the Sustainable Development Goals. Some may find such frameworks unrealistic and ineffective since they are not legally binding. But their existence still matters to the global policy-making scene because it is through initiatives like these that reflect “moonshot thinking” that our society can move forward. While national or regional goals are more concrete and on a smaller scale, strategic frameworks at the global level demonstrate shared human experience, aspiration and responsibilities. What’s more, global strategic frameworks serve as a guide and model for strategic frameworks on other levels. Therefore, despite some drawbacks, they are still indispensible in global governance.
One specific way global strategic frameworks can lead policy-making on the national and local level is through adopting spirits of other international documents. An example of inclusion of legally binding international convention is the intersection between the SDGs and the CRPD. The SDGs were adopted after the CRPD so they do a better job of including persons with disabilities than the MDGs and were able to shift the debate from only focusing on poverty reduction to a more inclusive development strategy. We can observe this trend from the five SDGs that directly refer to persons with disabilities. The SDGs can be better connected with regional and national policies in this way. The case of UNESCAP is an example of this better connection. The Incheon Strategy of UNESCAP successfully facilitated implementation of the CRPD in its member states in Southeast Asia. As the member states of UNESCAP incorporate CRPD into their national policies, they are also contributing to the SDGs. UNESCAP can also use this contribution to further encourage its member states to make progress in the area of inclusion of persons with disabilities. So the implementation of CRPD and the SDGs enhances each other.
The case of UNESCAP demonstrates advantages of overlaps between global strategic frameworks and international conventions. Policies and efforts that are separated and disconnected before can be integrated into the same system by adopting the same language as global guidelines like the SDGs. This is one of the reasons why global strategic frameworks are valuable.
Global frameworks are used everywhere and every day. The only way to understand what these frameworks are is to see the examples that we interact with on a daily basis. Examples of these frameworks include the Millennium Development Goals, the replacement Sustainable Development Goals, and the New Urban Agenda. These frameworks affect everyone, as every country that takes part in the United Nations has agreed to accept them. The only way global frameworks can exist and be effective is through partnerships. Everyone must participate and everyone must contribute.
The MDGs were adopted in 2000 with a goal of achieving them by 2015, something that did not happen. Because of this failure, there has been a lot of negative backlash towards the MDGs. The MDGs included the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, universal primary education, gender equality, and environmental sustainability, among others. Deepak Nayyar, a professor of economics, is one of the biggest criticizers of the MDGs in his article “MDGs After 2015.” He argues that one of the major problems with the MDGs was that they were not specific. They lacked specificity so much so that it seemed as they were not fully planned. The replacement goals, the SDGs, took in this criticism when they were being constructed. The SDGs are extremely specific and have yearly updates available to mark progress. The use of the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) as a way to monitor and evaluate the progress of the SDGs will aid in the overall success of the SDGs, both individually and collectively. While these goals are still lofty, they are better structured and defined, which will make them more obtainable in the long run.
Global frameworks, such as the MDGs and SDGs, provide challenges in achieving the intended and desired results. The MDGs failed for a variety of reasons and we are still too far out to know if the SDGs will be achieved or not. Challenges lie within the systems of evaluating progress. With the world being so large and so diverse, it is hard to measure effectiveness. SDG 6, clean water and sanitation, is something far easier to achieve and measure in developed countries. In developing countries, the infrastructure might not be there or populations might be more remote, adding challenges in the efficacy of these frameworks. At the end of the day, someone will argue something went wrong. Someone will criticize some aspect of what happened. Critics will always exist because people come from different background and have different perspectives. What is important is that we do not let these critics shift us from the desired end goal.