Measuring the Next Global Development Goals

Measurement is crucial for creating a development agenda that will do the most good for the most people, given limited resources. But how much money can the international community justify diverting from development initiatives to improving data collection and analysis?

COPENHAGEN – At the start of the twenty-first century, the international community made some smart and simple promises with the so-called Millennium Development Goals. The world would halve the proportion of people suffering from hunger and living in extreme poverty, achieve universal primary education, and dramatically reduce child mortality by 2015. There have been many successes, though not all of the MDGs’ targets will be achieved.

The target of halving hunger, for example, may be missed – though not by much. In 1991, 23.4% of all people in the developing world were malnourished; more than a billion people went to bed hungry. By 2013, the proportion had dropped to 13.5%. Though the developing world had 1.7 billion more people than in 1991, 209 million fewer were starving. Over the past 22 years, the world has managed to feed almost two billion more people adequately – no small feat.

Over the next year, the world’s 193 governments will come together to set new global targets to be met by 2030. The task amounts to this generation’s greatest opportunity to translate high aspirations into concrete targets. But choosing the targets that will do the most good requires learning from current experience.

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