New report on post 2015 development agenda
Today the HoC International Development Select Committee launched its report on the post 2015 development agenda.
The current Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will expire in 2015, and the Prime Minister is co-chairing a UN High Level Panel to consider what should replace them. The Panel meets next week in the Liberian capital, Monrovia.
Commenting on the launch of the report, Chair of the Committee, Rt Hon Sir Malcolm Bruce MP, stated that 'the Prime Minister must use his influence to ensure that the goals are simple and measureable'.
Ambitious but achievable goals
The MPs welcome the Prime Minister’s commitment to ending extreme poverty, and agree that this should feature prominently in the next set of goals.
The current MDGs contain a target to reduce extreme poverty (the proportion of people living on less than US $1.25 per day) by 50% per cent, and this has already been achieved. The next stage should be to aim to reduce this to zero. Whilst this is ambitious, for the first time in human history it is also achievable.
"A departure from our usual work"
Rather than scrutinising the work of HMG, this report sees a Committee contributing to an active and wide ranging debate. The inquiry covers a wide scope of issues, including the successes of the MDGs, their financing and suggestions for new goals and targets.
Facing the reality of development inequalities
The report argues that while the development of robust targets and indicators is a key determinant of the success of the post-MDG framework, the existing structure of targets and indicators has led to an over-focus on some issues and has also acted to conceal development inequalities within and between countries.
In addition the use of relative targets such as Target 1A, “Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than one dollar a day”, has potentially increased inequality by encouraging aid programmes to focus on easy wins at the expense of the very poorest.
UKCDS contributes to discussion
While science isn’t mentioned explicitly, a number of the themes mentioned in the UKCDS submission are prominent in the report, including tertiary education and the importance of monitoring and evaluation of progress.
The report recognises the value of tertiary education in building capacity for economic growth and the effective provision of public services and recommends that education targets, restricted to primary education and literacy in the MDG framework, should be broadened to address secondary education and actively consider tertiary education.
Perhaps as a reflection of the scale and complexity of the issue, and the rapid turnaround, the report covers different topics in varying depth, and the recommendations range from the broad: "the Prime Minister [...] should focus on building international political support for [the report's] recommendations with a view to ensuring that they are incorporated in the post-2015 framework” to the more prescriptive: “Under the post-2015 framework, data should be broken down (‘disaggregated’) by gender and region, and by other variables as appropriate”.
Equally as interesting is what the report does not cover. In the “Potential content” section, the report discusses the ‘Golden Thread’; health, education and employment. It is not clear why these four topics were chosen, over climate change, resilience, or migration, for example. However the report does discuss the importance of sustainability as ‘intimately connected to poverty reduction’ and recommends that it be embedded as a component part of a number of the post-2015 goals.
It’s encouraging that the Committee wanted to be part of this debate, signalling interest from Parliamentarians. However, it’s not clear on a first reading what this adds to the cacophony of other voices in the debate, or in this departure from their normal role, how the Committee can hold HMG to account for things they have little control over.
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