MDGs need people!
I’m attending an event organised by the OECD, UNITAR and the government of Egypt. Very useful, hearing senior officials in many international organisations speak about the MDG Summit.
The key message coming out of the meeting is one that has been expressed by Dóchas and many other NGOs many times before: the international efforts to rid the world of extreme poverty MUST be based on the participation of ordinary citizens.
What this means:
- The MDGs are a global recipe, and the key actors mentioned in it are Governments. The asssumption is that Governments represent their citizens, and that buy-in from Governments equals buy-in from civil society.
- The MDGs stress the need for Partnerships. But for Partnerships to work, each party needs to keep its promises, and accept accountability to other parties. This seems to have been one of the big obstacles to a stronger MDG Outcome Document this time around, as many countries in the G77 did not feel comfortable with “mutual accountability”.
- Partnerships need rights. The MDG statement do contain enough reference points to rights; they need to be realised.
- Partnershps and participation require information: aid donors, and aid recipient Governments must improve the information they make available to their citizens on what is happening, what is being planned, and what is being financed.
- Participation needs ownership. Too often, weak Governments and civil society movements do not understand the processes involved in global decision making. They need help: not just money, but also time to get to grips with processes, and time to build up the trust required. Sadly, the international Development industry rarely allows for enough time.
And most of all: participation requires predictability. It requires that people and Governments keep their word. Good will is not enough. “Paper promises” are not enough.
It is encouraging to hear that Governments are learning lessons from the Aid Effectiveness processes and the MDG declarations, and that some of those lessons relate to the importance of working in Partnership.
We just hope that those lessons include Partnership with civil society. The fact that Civil Society is referred to only twice in the MDG Summit Outcome Document can be an indication that some more Lesson Learning is required!