Some initial reflections about the MDG Outcome Document
There are many things to be welcomed about the Summit and its Outcome Document:
Firstly, it is important to note that the MDG Summit in itself has provided an opportunity for the world’s Governments to re-commit to the MDGs. The Outcome Document re-affirms the international community’s commitments and obligations.
In addition to the renewed commitment to existing agreements, the Outcome document provides for new issues of focus:
- For the first time ever, the issue of Disability has been included in the MDG framework;
- The role of the private sector in achieving the MDGs is explicitly recognised;
- There is clear agreement on some of the follow-up required:
- An annual review by the UN General Assembly of progress towards the MDGs;
- A review summit will be organised in 2013, to ensure progress on the MDGs;
- The UN Secretary General is asked to initiate a process of reflection about the required framework for Development, beyond 2015.
There are positive improvements in the text, compared to the original MDGs:
- In its very first paragraph, the document states that progress has been made since 2005, “while expressing deep concern that it falls far short of what is needed.”
- The references to human rights and the Right to Development have been strengthened;
- The text repeatedly refers to the centrality of MDG8 and the need to improve the quality and the quality of aid:
- “The fulfilment of all ODA commitments is crucial, including the commitments by many developed countries to achieve the target of 0.7% of Gross National Product (GDP) for ODA to developing countries by 2015”.
- “We strongly encourage all donors to establish, as soon as possible, rolling indicative timetables that illustrate how they aim to reach their goals, in accordance with their respective budget allocation process.”
In short, the Outcome Document is not the clarion call that we had hoped for, but it has succeeded in keeping the MDGs firmly on the political agenda. It does not convey the same urgency that NGOs had hoped for, but it is very clear in its message that more action is required.
UN member states are under no doubt: when they return home from the Summit, the onus is on them to demonstrate how they will give shape to the actions called for by the Summit.
For Ireland, this means:
- Demonstrating, in Budget 2011, serious progress towards the 0.7% by 2015 target;
- Publishing the “rolling indicative timetables” called for by the Outcome Document (and by the Act Now on 2015 campaign);
- Initiating a national debate about “exploring new innovative finance mechanisms”;
- Demonstrating how Governmental (and Non-Governmental!!) development efforts are having an impact on global poverty, and on the MDGs;
- Enhancing the international advocacy in the context of Ireland’s determined focus on Hunger.