How to stop some people dying in 2017.

In 2016, dead people were in the news a lot. It’s likely that some people will also die in 2017. Some of these people will be famous. But many of them won’t be. Many of them will suffer from easily preventable causes. Let’s focus on those folks for a minute. Continue reading How to stop some people dying in 2017.

Mapping the post-2015 development debate – join in!

The post-2015 development agenda debate is generating a lot of words on what should follow the popular Millennium Development Goals (or MDGs) come 2015, which is the point at which they were supposed to have been met. There are hundreds of international meetings going on, as well as global and national consultations, plenty of think-tank reports, op-eds and news coverage. 

But for someone who’s interested in the discussion – and how decisions are being taken – it’s hard to keep up with what’s going on. So, inspired by an earlier effort by Jan Goossenaerts, I’ve started a new graph of the debate. It tries to bring disparate strands of the debate together in one place.

Debategraph
Mapping the post-2015 development debate

This is just a start. There is a vast amount of information missing. I’ve mainly based it so far on stories from my twitter timeline – there are many more voices out there, particularly in developing countries.

I have so far only mentioned a few specific goal suggestions – those made in Save the Children’s recent report. There must be more to add. And although it does seem like there will be a new set of goals (perhaps up to 2030), there is still room for a debate as to whether goals are the right tactic for improving global outcomes, or whether there are other ways of approaching the agenda.

There is also much to be discussed in terms of delivery and accountability. If the world isn’t going to meet the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, what’s to say any new goals will be met?

So join in. Anyone can edit the graph above. Debategraph is a fantastic tool, which allows many layers of debate, critique and argumentation. Give it a go: sign up, navigate back to the post2015 map and start adding material, links, or refining what’s already there.

Could global goals encourage sustainable development? JFK would think so

In May 1961, JFK announced the US’s plan to put a man on the moon. A year later, he gave a speech at Rice University:
We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

Grand goal-setting is back on the world’s agenda. With the Millennium Development Goals due to be met or missed in three years time, the post-2015 debate is kicking off in the UN, in civil society and in the media. Sustainable Development Goals will be high on the agenda at the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development. But are they useful? Or just an excuse for not making concrete plans? 

The paper below provides some of the arguments for and against the use of goal-setting at the global level, particularly in regard to sustainable development.  Continue reading Could global goals encourage sustainable development? JFK would think so

How to crowdsource the sustainable development goals

My twitter timeline today was full of people talking about #post2015.

This is another label for discussing what should follow the Millennium Development Goals -whether that’s sustainable development goals or whatever – essentially it’s about setting the global agenda for the next 30 years.

Today’s stuff was sparked by UNDP’s seminar in New York with Amartya Sen (admittedly, great), and post2015 has been on the agenda this week after the UN Sec-Gen announced a High Level Panel on the matter (and civil society pipes up with suggestions) of which UK Prime Minister Cameron is apparently the chair, etc.

But all of this ignores the importance of public participation. The post-MDGs planning offers a great opportunity for creating a legitimate set of goals – i.e. involving the people who the goals will affect – hopefully everyone.

I’ve blogged about why you’d want to crowdsource the next global goals before. Below, I try to guesstimate how it might be done.  Continue reading How to crowdsource the sustainable development goals

The next generation MDGs or SDGs – it’s not what, but how

The Millennium Development Goals were supposed to be met by 2015. There have been some successes, some failures. Whether the goals actually caused the improvement in some of the indicators is unknowable, but Claire Melamed and Andy Sumner argue that they certainly changed the debate, and that they changed aid spending and political priorities. 

And the thousands of people assembling at Rio+20 this summer will be discussing the idea of sustainable development goals, with the idea of merging social, economic and environmental goals. At Rio they’ll have to agree on some basic priorities. But post-Rio, agreeing on indicators to measure performance on these goals is not going to be easy.

But in all the talk about what should follow in the second round of MDGs or SDGs, nobody’s grasped that the world has changed since the late 1990s when the first goals were drafted.

First – are goals the most appropriate tool for what we’re trying to achieve? See Melamed and Sumner again for a thoughtful range of questions on this subject.

Second – assuming they are – this time they’re likely to be global goals. They will be universal – applicable not just to poor nations. This time, environmental and social goals must be tackled alongside eradicating poverty. Or goals should be found that satisfy all three elements of sustainable development.

So we all have a stake in the goals, and we all have a responsibility to help meet them. Does it not follow that we all should have a say in them?  

Ergo – let’s crowdsource the next round of development goals.

Charles Kenny, top aid-protagonist at CGD, actually referred to the next round of goals as MDGs 2.0, without going into the 2.0 aspect. Ben Leo, of the ONE campaign, used the same phrase to argue that the poor must decide on the next round of MDGs. 

The debate is underway across twitter and the aid blogosphere. But it has to go beyond the experts, practitioners or academics. Everyone should be invited to think about the “future we want” and have the opportunity to contribute.

So, UN, this is your task. Your website frontpage says ‘it’s your UN’. The first line of the Charter says ‘we the peoples’. Let’s live this – get the world together online to start talking about what the next round of goals should be. Build a platform that allows for drafting, commenting, voting. 

This is an amazing opportunity for public participation and engagement with the goals. The greater the participation, the greater the buy-in from the global public, the greater the chance we’ll meet the goals next time. 

The UN could combine digital crowdsourcing with offline participation opportunities to host the world’s greatest participative agenda-setting event. This would help the UN position itself as the go-to platform for global participative governance. 

We’ve got 3 years to go.

(Start by following #SDGs and #MDGs on twitter)

Flickr credit: MT_bulli