PARIS – It is now halfway to the target date of 2015 for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – the ambitious blueprint, backed by the entire development community, for development in the world’s poorest countries. In the wake of the global financial crisis, which is about to hit the developing world, it is time to ask the right questions about the international community’s commitment to achieving these goals.
Sadly, we know that most countries will not meet the objectives by 2015. And the global food and financial crises threaten to stymie recent progress. If the global poverty reduction target is met, it will be due to high growth in emerging countries such as China or India rather than to a decline in absolute poverty in the neediest countries.
This is worrisome, because it is a symptom of two more significant ills. First, the international community seems to be suffering from schizophrenia: whereas all countries solemnly affirmed their commitment to the MDGs, few have provided the means to achieve them. The reality is that aid increased only slightly over the 2000-2006 period: because of massive debt write-offs, the substantial increase in official development assistance did not translate into new and available funds on the ground.
The MDGs were meant to help international solidarity move from a logic of inputs (how much aid do we give?) to one of outputs (what concrete impact are we aiming for?). But with deliverable aid levels remaining practically constant, and given strong population growth, notably in Africa, the international community has not given itself sufficient means to reach its ambitious targets.