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Not enough investment in MDGs

Jul 02, 2008

Expressing anguish over the tardy progress on the UN Millennium Development Goals, Salil Shetty, Director of the Millennium Campaign, feels that governments all over the world have not been judicious enough in allocating resources for development. Climate change and food crisis result from lack of investment in MDGs, he says.

Glasgow: The Director of the Millennium Campaign, Salil Shetty, is an angry man. Last year he was confronted with the climate change issue and now it is the global food crisis.

“Last year people used to say that climate change will hamper the progress of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and now people say that the food crisis will impact MDGs. But, my take is that if the governments had invested in the MDGs, we would not be confronted with these problems," Shetty told Rahul Kumar, of TerraViva, during the CIVICUS assembly in Glasgow from June18-21.

The MDGs include: eradicating poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality and empowering women, reducing child and maternal mortality, combating HIV/AIDS and other diseases, ensuring environmental sustainability and forming a global partnership for development.

This year the UN will review the MDGs. It has called a multi-stakeholder meeting on September 25 - to be held parallel to the UN General Assembly session -which will define the course of the second half of the campaign. Apart from heads of state and civil society organisations surprisingly, corporations will also be present at this MDG review meeting.

IPS: What is the solution to the food crisis?

Salil Shetty: The world is concentrating on finding high tech solutions to low tech problems and that is one reason why a global food crisis is staring governments in the face. Experts had predicted that such a situation would crop up. The only difference is that it has come up sooner than we expected. Why? Just because the governments were busy developing infrastructure and focusing on fashionable sectors - industry and services.

IPS: What progress has been made in terms of the MDGs and what goals have been missed?

SS: Making any comments on the progress of the MDGs is generalising the issue. If I say Africa has seen mixed progress, it does not mean much. So, if you take a look at some of the poorer countries like Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Burkina Faso and Mali - apart from others - they are on track to achieving at least six of the goals.

To understand the progress on the MDGs, we have to really, really narrow down and go local. Tanzania has reduced its infant mortality rate in five years by 30 percent - which is highly commendable.

One of the important lessons from last year’s review was that the goals can be achieved. Those countries where the leadership takes development issues seriously and allocates its resources - like Vietnam - are most likely to meet their targets.

Also, where government allocations are reaching the people, the goals are on track. Vietnam has been a spectacular success and the credit also goes to the commitment of its people.

IPS: What is your priority now as Director of the Millennium Campaign?

SS: Increasing the mobilisation as well as campaigning for the MDGs. We plan to have national MDG hearings in 20 countries where people’s voices will be heard, apart from media debates. We are also trying to involve parliamentarians in debates and are pushing for independent monitoring and observation by NGOs.

At the end of the day what we find is that problems lie at the implementation level. Governance and corruption really hamper development and growth. Another major problem is exclusion of people and communities.

Of the eight MDGs, seven related mostly to the countries of the South, while goal eight talks about a global partnership for development. The international community needs to pull up its socks. The aid volume has gone up but the quality is still erratic, on the other hand trade is in a big mess. But debt cancellation is one area which has helped a lot.

Source : IPS
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