Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Development 'game changers' and the MDG plus agenda

At the After 2015 High Level Policy Forum, held in Brussels on June 23 2009, Jean-Luc Maurer, president of EADI, introduced the second panel which aimed to identify the key meta-processes shaping development (game changers) over the next 10-15 years and their implications on the MDG plus agenda.

Charles Gore (UNCTAD) claimed that the financial crisis is not simply a failure of the financial system, but rooted in the weaknesses and contradictions of the global development paradigm. These shortcomings include market fundamentalism, radical global income inequality, global interdependence without global institutions, the socio-institutional mismatch with the emerging new technological paradigm, and the environmental limits to growth.

So how can the current economic and development downturn be understood? According to Mr. Gore, there are long-wave cycles in development, also known as the Kondratieff cycles, of which one can last between 50-60 years.
  • The Kondratieff spring was experienced in the 1950s and 1960s, when national development and economic growth were predominant
  • The 1970s coincided with the summer, when economic growth was accompanied by redistribution
  • The autumn in the 1980s and 1990s was characterized by global integration and the Washington Consensus .
  • Since 2007, we are in the Kondratieff winter period, the focus lying on the Washington Consensus plus poverty reduction. In this downturn period, the MDGs are crucial to fill the gap to the next spring, which can be expected to start in 2012-15.
For Mr. Gore the way forward is not to abandon the MDGs, but to develop a new consensus on global sustainable development. We should embed the MDGs in a different policy narrative around productive capacities. MDGs could become social and economic rights which are guaranteed at the global level. In the long-term, they would not be financed through aid, but through innovative global sources of finance, such as taxes on global transactions.

Alfred Nhema of the Pan African Development Center highlighted the African view on the MDGs. Acknowledging that most African countries fail to achieve main MDGs, Mr. Nhema pledges for a coherent assessment of the current situation. How can Africa learn from other regions, such as Asia? Why did the past policies did not push Africa substantially forward on the way to reach the MDGs? Moreover, universal indicators such as the MDGs should be buttressed by locally defined measures. Public involvement from Southern peoples would be essential in the designing of a post-2015 framework.

Richard Morgan (UNICEF) argued that we need to “seriously review or even junk the results-based management approach of the MDGs”, because it is too far away from people’s real life. The basic needs approach and the participatory development approach would be good ways forward.

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