Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Impact of the MDG paradigm on poverty reduction

The first panel of the ‘MDGs After 2015’ event in Brussels on June 23, jointly organized by DFID, DSA, EADI, IDS, ActionAid and the Broker, focused on the impact of the MDG paradigm on poverty reduction.

Lawrence Haddad (IDS) introduced the topic by underlining that the preconditions for realizing the MDGs are very different from 2000, the year of their creation. Whereas the millennium year was characterized by growth and stability, our times today are marked by climate change, financial and economic crises, pandemics, and the rise of new economies. This triggers questions on the post-2015 MDG framework: “Should the MDGs focus on outcome or process, should they be global, national or local, should there be less or more accountability, and finally, should there be MDGs or not?”

Salil Shetty (United Nations Millennium Campaign) underlined the achievements of the MDGs from 2000 until 2009. We do not spend enough time on reviewing the successes, although “the MDGs help to make change happen!" Instead of being a 'straight jacket', they are a public good, which can be interpreted differently. However, he acknowledged weaknesses, such as the donor and state-driven and technocratic nature and the ignorance for processes of change and structural causes of poverty. As key challenges, he identified the economic, food and climate crises which create a 'cloud of uncertainties'. Successes have been the weakest in the areas of maternal health and child mortality, and the trade element of MDG 8. The action plan until 2015 should, according to Mr. Shetty, focus on the 'de-aiding' process of the MDGs, move action from the global to the local, and serious reporting.

Enrico Giovannini, the chief statistician of the OECD, clarified that the word ‘statistics’ actually comes from ‘science of the state’. What we need would be 'sotistics, statistics for the society. Further, confronted with multiple crises, he underlined that we need to develop a new narrative which goes beyond mere aid narratives. Equitable and sustainable well-being definitions should be participatory and decided on local levels. “We have to be careful in preparing the repeated game in 2015”, claimed Mr. Giovannini.

Sakiko Fukuda-Parr from the New School University, New York presented her analysis of how the MDGs have influenced policy priorities and Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs). On the one hand, the MDGs were created as a reaction to the Washington Consensus, instead embracing the idea of inclusive globalization. On the other hand, the strategies of the 22 researched countries focused on the Washington Consensus (liberalization and privatization with little government intervention) plus social investments. In this way, many PRSPs undercut inclusive globalization and counteract the driving motivation of the creation of the MDGs. Despite the lack of impact on policy and the development paradigm, the MDGs did have a huge impact at a normative level. They are a very powerful message, which succeeded to shift international norms, although in a truncated way. Finally, Mrs. Fukuda-Parr underlined that we have to recast the MDG agenda. Most importantly, we have to add a goal on reducing inequality.

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This project is co-financed by the European Union. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the European Commission