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The Mis-Measure of Development

Today’s global development agenda is trying to be all things to all people. The Millennium Development Goals worked because they were few in number and sharply focused. By contrast, the MDGs' successor, the Sustainable Development Goals, comprise an eye-popping 169 targets, which means there is no focus at all.

BERMUDA – A new scorecard that purports to grade countries on development progress tells us little about how we are faring against humanity’s biggest challenges. Instead, it highlights the shortcomings of today’s unfocused global development agenda.

The major new report, led by Jeffrey D. Sachs and issued by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Solutions Network and Germany’s Bertelsmann Stiftung, provides a color-coded dashboard to demonstrate how well every country is doing at implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – the hugely important agenda that succeeded the highly effective Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 18 months ago. Green indicates success across all indicators of a goal; yellow, orange, and red point to increasing distances from achieving the goal.

You might expect to discover from the rating how well rich countries are allocating their development aid, and how successfully poorer countries are spending their own funds, to make sure more people have access to education, healthcare, food security, and a safe, clean environment – the planet’s fundamental development challenges.

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