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Countdown to the MDG Deadline - What Is New?
There's already an active international debate on what might follow the U.N. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which expire at the end of 2015. The U.N. High Level Panel on Post-2015 (HLP) -- the official process through which the post-MDG global development agenda is being shaped -- has been meeting in New York to finalize its report. The panel met four times for consultations -- in New York in September 2012, London in November 2012, Monrovia in January 2013, and Bali in March 2013. On May 30, panel members will present a report outlining their vision and priorities for post-2015 development to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Ban's response is expected in July.
Many in the development community have been anticipating the release of the HLP final report and its recommendations for weeks now. Will the report live up to its hype? Will its recommendations match the aspirations of the many groups and individuals who have contributed so far to the post-2015 development debate? Will it chart a politically effective way forward for governments? The report will be made publicly available on May 31 through the HLP website. An outreach event with stakeholders is planned for the same day, to be followed by regional and national launch events around the world. Hopefully, these events will enable all who are concerned about development to take part in an integrated global conversation before September, when there will be a special event on the MDGs and the post-2015 agenda held during the U.N. General Assembly meetings.
In the midst of all the preparations for the post-MDG, post-2015 period, we must not skip past the 2 1/2 years left to achieve the MDGs. Much more remains to be done. Although many low income countries may not achieve all the MDG targets by 2015, it's important that as many countries as possible make significant progress on most or all MDGs. The accumulating recent evidence suggests that the MDGs are within reach. A World Bank report states that 20 of the world's most fragile countries have made progress on MDG targets ranging from reducing poverty to improving the education of girls and reducing the deaths of women in childbirth. According to the report, despite their difficult circumstances, each of the countries has met at least one MDG target. A different group of six fragile countries are on track to meet all the MDGs. Better data collection and monitoring have revealed this progress -- whereas data gathered in 2010 and earlier found that none of these nations had met any of the eight MDGs.
The new data show that countries such as Afghanistan, Nepal, and Timor-Leste have met targets such as halving the number of people in extreme poverty or significantly increasing the number of girls enrolled in schools. Nonetheless, residents of countries caught in repeated cycles of violence lag behind the rest of the world on development indicators; they are struggling to meet a second or third MDG target. One of the challenges in helping fragile nations is preparing for the period after humanitarian assistance ends. Humanitarian assistance tends to pour in once a country emerges from conflict, but it dries up just as quickly once international attention fades or there are no immediate signs of progress. Long-term development is what can make a difference, as it has in Afghanistan, Nepal, and Timor-Leste.
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