The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were launched at the UN General Assembly in 2001, and have had great influence on the field of international development. The Goals cover areas such as extreme poverty (i.e. living on less than US$1.25 per day), primary education, child and maternal mortality, and HIV/AIDS; each Goal is supported by underlying targets, most of which have a target date of 2015. In July 2012, the UN Secretary-General established a High-level Panel, tasked with making recommendations as to what should replace the MDGs after 2015. The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, is one of three co-Chairs of this Panel. We urge the Prime Minister and the High-level Panel's other members to remain engaged with the process after their report is published and to continue to mobilise public opinion and to press Heads of Government to support their post-2015 agenda.
Under the MDGs, some of the targets are phrased in universal terms, but others are relativeon extreme poverty, for example, the target is not to eliminate it but to reduce it by half. The Prime Minister has argued that the post-2015 framework should aim for the elimination of extreme poverty, and we agree. Whilst this is ambitious, for the first time in history it is also eminently achievable.
Another key debate is whether the post-2015 framework should incorporate issues of environmental sustainability: our view is that it should. Poverty reduction and environmental sustainability are interdependent: the task of the present generation is to meet development challenges without compromising the interests of future generations.
Progress against MDG targets can mask significant inequalities between countries. For example, the MDG target to halve the proportion of people without access to safe water has already been achieved, but this is largely due to rapid progress in China and India: sub-Saharan Africa remains off-track. To ensure that the post-2015 framework does not hide such disparities, we recommend thatwhilst the goals themselves should be global in scopethe underlying targets and indicators be specific to individual countries' circumstances.
There is room for improvement in the means by which progress is measured. Under the MDGs, the tendency to assess progress by means of national averages has allowed great disparities, such as those between women and men or between particular regions of a country, to be hidden. Under the post-2015 framework, data should be broken down ('disaggregated') by gender and region, and by other variables as appropriate.
Since 2005, David Cameron has espoused the notion that successful development needed to be underpinned by a 'golden thread' of governance-related issues. We share the Prime Minister's belief that good governance is fundamental to development, and we believe that it should be included in the post-2015 framework. The Prime Minister has defined the 'Golden Thread' in a number of different ways. We recommend that the Prime Minster give a clear and consistent definition of what he means by the 'Golden Thread' in response to this report given its importance in his thinking on the post-2015 framework and goals.
Job creation is one of the most crucial of all development challenges. Whilst the issue of employment was included in the original MDG framework, it was insufficiently prominent and failed to capture the public imagination. In the post-2015 framework, the task will be to design an employment 'goal' which captures the imagination of people around the world.
The MDGs undoubtedly had great resonance around the world. The simplicity and measurability of the MDGs, and the level of responsibility countries have taken for meeting them, have been crucial factors in their success. For those involved in developing the post-2015 framework, the most critical task is to ensure that these strengths are retained.