Achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals

This blog's purpose is to connect in an every widening and deepening manner with others across the globe in support of the United Nation's Millennium Development Goals.

Let's be the first generation to end poverty by 2015 with the United Nations' Eight Goal Millennium Campaign.
1. End Hunger 2. Universal Education 3. Gender Equity 4. Child Health 5. Maternal Health 6. Combat HIV/AIDS and other diseases 7. Environmental Sustainability 8. Global Partnership.

Learn more about what this weblog is trying to accomplish at the new PBworks Wiki.

Speaking Out for the Millennium Development Goals

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What If - Millennium Development Goals Ending Poverty 2015

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Millennium Project Late Start

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This blog is in actuality a learning tool for myself, I am simply making it available to others who are also interested in learning about the same issues. I had gathered a good deal of resources before starting this blog. Those resources helped me find yet more resources on the web including Rav Casley Gera's African Development for the Completely Bloody Ignorant. Rav not only provides even more resources, he does a good job of putting those resources into context. I already blogged (re-blogged?) on Rav's latest post.

In one of his earlier posts, he wrote on Millennium Project: Getting Started. I am going to skip the depressing parts of his post and go to the crux.

The goals remain the most comprehensive and internationally supported development framework ever agreed. So even if 2015 is unachievable, aiming for 2017 seems better than giving up.

This is were my skeptical, fledgeling, libertarian sympathies get mixed with my usual progressive views. I don't believe that governments are going to succeed or even make a true effort to accomplish the millennium development goals. What will be accomplished is greater awareness of the need of the goals and the failure of existing governments to act. I have far greater faith in an increase in social-entrepreneurship in the world by private citizens and organizations. The term non-governmental organization (NGO) seems inane to me. That will not stop me though from supporting positive approaches to bringing the Millennium Development Goals about. Rav tries to look on the bright side and so shall I. Truth is that, despite being positive, Rav also puts forward a pragmatic, dare I say, business-like view of what needs to be accomplished.

So let's pretend that, a little behind schedule, the world is now eager and ready to fund and support the UNMP's recommendations. Where do we start?

  1. Every developing country that wants to be eligible for support should prepare an MDG-focussed poverty reduction strategy, a plan to achieve the goals complete with precise costings and measurements of the aid required.
  2. Fast-track countries, that are most suitable to receive support, should be identified (more on this below).
  3. International agencies should immediately begin working with poor countries to train thousands of teachers, doctors, planning professionals, engineers, and "village specialists" in health, agriculture, forestry, road maintenance and other basic skills. This is to ensure that once infrastructure projects such as new schools and hospitals begin, they aren't messed up by lack of staff, as has often been the case in the past.
  4. The "quick wins", cheap interventions proven to be effective, should be implemented in all as widely as possible. It would take just two years, the report argues, to distribute anti-malaria bed nets to all at-risk African children.
  5. Middle-income countries like China and South Africa, while they have their own poverty issues, should also be invited to join the coalition working towards the goals for poor countries. While their ability to contribute financially may be limited, they can offer expertise, training and certain key cheap materials - for example, China produces artemisinin, a key ingredient of anti-malaria medicine. (p50-55)

Each of these can be explored more deeply, as can the five separate systems that Rav provides that have recently assessed poor countries' governance and economic policies according to fairly strict standards. I am only going to focus on one though for this post.

Because it wouldn't be fair to depend on Rav for all the links, here is one to the Millennium Challenge Corporation. It is the government corporation responsible for using the business-like approach to implementing the millennium development goals for the United States. What is of note to my progressive leanings is that this was started by the current Bush Administration, but when I read about it in the press names like Madeleine Albright and Ben Affleck pop-up. This needs to be studies more. What is more notable is the lack of support from Congress. Another resource of this blog is the the Center for Global Development who provides a couple of reports on the subject, Senate Takes Earlier MCC Haircut to Full Out Decapitation and Responsible Appropriation? Another Look at the Senate's MCA Slashing all posted by Sheila Herrling.

The Price Tag for the MDGs

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This weblog is a johnny-come-lately to writing about the Millennium Development Goals. When first putting it together I searched for others blogging on the MDGs. There are a number of "institutional" blogs, but I also found two impressive blogs that were personal endeavors. One which is African Development for the Completely Bloody Ignorant by Rav Casley Gera. Rav's latest post from 2/17/08 is on the Millennium Project: Why we must act - and how much it will cost. I am impressed with the organization of Rav's blog. He provides a good summary of the overall financials of the Millennium Development Goals. The importance of budgets to efforts such as this has already been commented on. This post will be a synopsis of his summary highlighting some of the important resources to which he gave access.

I am going to start at the end and highlight the Millennium Project Overview Report, the full 300+ page version, ten key recommendations, and the reports of the individual task forces provided in Rav's post. These provide a great deal of information on the cost/benefits rationale of the Millennium Project.

Rav goes through the "math" on how the proposals of the UN Millennium Project are designed to meet the Millennium Development Goals. It's definitely worthwhile going through his post, but the answer is $135 billion in 2006, with annual spending rising to $195 billion in 2015. Which sounds like a lot until you understand that it is between 0.44 and 0.54% of rich countries' GNP or you compare it to the cost of the Iraq war which some put at $3 trillion. It is still short of the 0.7% of GNP we've been promising for aid for around thirty years, first in 1970, most recently in 2003. The US, which has the economy to account for nearly half of the total extra aid needed, is currently at less than 0.2%. Only five countries -Denmark, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway and Sweden - have reached the target.

Rav then provides The benefits of meeting the goals

Is it worth it? The report certainly thinks so. Meeting the goals means a host of changes of great benefit to the world's poorest people:

  • 300 million more people lifted out of poverty between now and 2015 than on current trends; In Africa, 150 million people lifted out of poverty, as opposed to an increase of 75 million in the number of extremely poor people under current trends
  • 230 million fewer people undernourished than on current trends; in Africa, 75 million fewer; as opposed to 25 million more on current trends
  • 3.4 million fewer children dying each year, the benefits seen almost entirely in Africa

There are other benefits cited but bottom line, it is making a better world. Rav has promised a quick one-post summary of the key points for reference. He is also going to look at some of the critics of Sachs' proposals, and what it is they dislike. I look forward to both and will link when available.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Half way there but still a long way to go.

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It is 49 days away from Blog Action Day 2008 Poverty and 51 days away from the start of the next Stand Up Take Action event Stand Up Against Poverty. It is also midpoint to the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals.

EUFORIC, the European Forum On International Cooperation has a paper on Millennium Development Goals at Midpoint: where do we stand? The paper is accessible here as a pdf. The paper was found through the BrianDRPM MDG tag subscription from del.icio.us at the right column of this blog.

Also found was a link from German user uliversum who provided the latest link to BBC World Service Trust.org | Trust 2015 index, which though it has some older material, still provides a good deal of basic information on the goals.

Afterthought - I should have mentioned the blog post Looking Back, looking Forward: the Successes and Challenges of the Millennium Campaign from the End Poverty 2015 - UN Millennium Campaign blog. It is 9 months old, but it also provides some perspective on the progress of the goals.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Barack Obama and the Millennium Development Goals

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The very term United Nations Millennium Development Goals conveys an immensely large undertaking over an extended period of time. The sentence seems obvious, but whether its full impact is all that well understood is another question.

Large, long term developmental efforts require budgets, but we usually think of budgets as being the tool of businesses and governments.

Recently though the International Budget Project was discovered by this blog. According to the site, the organization builds civil society budget capacity to enhance public participation and to combat poverty.

An organization that uses discipline of accounting to teach others How to use Budget Analysis to Advance Human Rights (pdf) has its heart (and mind) in the right place.

It goes again to the concept that organizational systems need to be put in place in order to deliver the services to those in need. They don't necessarily need to be complex or bureaucratic, but they do need to be sustainable which means adaptable, scalable and easily replicated. Most of all, they need to be organized and communicable internally and externally. Budgets help to provide both road maps and means of getting from point A to point B.

Obviously electing those who would support the Millennium Development Goal for Global Health will only be a first step, but it will be an important first step. The Open Budget blog contains a number of other worthwhile articles.

diigo tags: mdg, mdgs, millennium development goals, politics, global health budget,

Monday, August 25, 2008

Overcoming Competing Goals and Commitments in Global Malaria Intervention

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Millennium Development Goal 6. Combat HIV/AIDS and other diseases includes the eradication of malaria. Back on 7/21/08 Anthony Kiszewski discussed the implications of a new study that finds that global malaria funding remains inadequate in an article Divergent Goals and Commitments in Global Malaria Intervention in PLoS Medicine: New Articles. More PloS New Articles are featured below.

Two others involved in this effort are Paul Farmer and Jim Yong Kim's. While Kiszewski takes a global perspective, Farmer and Yong discuss the necessary logistics required to provide comprehensive care in an effective manner from an eyes on the ground perspective.

MITWorld provides a deeper look into the issues. Paul Farmer speaks about public entities being enabled to confer rights while at the same time speaking about the need for business practices such as supply chains to create comprehensive healthcare and medical delivery systems for the world's poor in the lecture from MIT World » : Global Health Equity.

ABOUT THE LECTURE:

"Don't foolishly advise Paul Farmer that his bold projects can't succeed. For the past 20 years, Farmer's been toppling orthodoxies concerning the delivery of health care to people of developing nations, and to our country's inner city poor. In a talk full of insights and anecdotes, Farmer brings his audience up to date on his groundbreaking work and methods.Farmer has written extensively about health and human rights, and about the role of social inequalities in the distribution and outcome of infectious diseases.

In 1993, he was awarded a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation "genius award" in recognition of his work.
Jim Kim - DSMHI delivers a lecture on Bridging the Delivery Gap to Global Health from MIT World Annotated.
Jim Yong Kim, MD, PhD holds appointments as François Xavier Bagnoud Professor of Health and Human Rights at the Harvard School of Public Health and Professor of Medicine and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He is chief of the Division of Social Medicine and Health Inequalities at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a major Harvard teaching hospital; director of the François Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights; and chair of the Department of Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School.
Some of his many writings include:
MIT is also combining business management practices from the Sloan School of Management with medical social activism. More on that here.

It is these types of systems and practices that must be put into place to make the Millennium Development Goals are reality and are more needed than just a governmental proclamation.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

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One of the sources of inspiration for this new blog was George G. Clark of both the Caledonia Centre for Social Development and Seafield Research and Development Services. George provided the following link to papers he had written on the MDG's some time back. It never quite made it into print in the UN system because there were 'contentious' bits. I leave it to you and your readers to decide. It is online here.

He also raises a question on the role that Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSP) play in figuring how to hit the MDGs?

Getting the Dragon and the Elephant to work together

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China and India in some ways hold both the promise and challenge of the Millennium Development Goals to a far greater degree than any other countries. They face the challenge of fulfilling the promise for their own people, but they are also developing the economic viability on their own to bring it about. The 8th millennium development goal calls for Global Partnership. Turan Khanna's book calls for global partnership between these two raising economic powers.

CII Karnataka via India Press Release wrote a review on 7/18/08 on Tarun Khanna's book BILLIONS OF ENTREPRENEURS. The author is a Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor at Harvard Business School.
For the first time since the rise of Western capitalism, entrepreneurs in China and India can ignore New York and London—and still build companies worth billions. Thanks to social and economic revolutions, Asia has captured the best minds and money from all around the world. Billions of Entrepreneurs is a compelling account of how China and India are reshaping business, politics and society around the world.
Tarun said China and India are radically different –one was top down and the other bottom – up. "How they will complement each other when they have two different political and cultural systems is a question to analyse and understand. "
India is argumentative; China is about force. If a road has to be laid, it is laid. In India; you'd have a hundred disputes. But we have to work around these," Tarun said.But Kiran Mazumdar – Shaw said India and China must work together. "How when we have different systems do we turn partners in growth? I reason that we are competing when it comes to marketing and manufacturing, but a great opportunity lies in research. How do we synergise when we are countries with a vast cultural divide? Source: Press release distribution via India PRwire

Another perspective on the book is taken by the Harvard Gazette - Economies in Asia: The dragon vs. the elephant. Quoting Tarun:

"I think there's a lot of truth to the characterization by most mainstream Americans and American social scientists that China is winning the 'race,' whatever that means," says HBS professor Tarun Khanna.
But Khanna, who's spent some years comparing the economic development of these two emerging nations and is at work on a book on the subject, cautions that while China has successfully leveraged its governmental structure to attract the foreign companies fueling its manufacturing boom, India's indigenous entrepreneurship is thriving in a way that cannot be ignored.

CII is a non-government, not-for-profit, industry led and industry managed organisation, playing a proactive role in India's development process.

It is not enough to do the right thing, we have to stop the wrong thing from happening as well.

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Now that the debut of this weblog has been officially declared it is time to get to the real work of reporting. Putting this blog together made me aware of a number of bloggers writing on these issues.

One blogger, Richard Power of Words of Power reminded us on 7/21/08 that in attempting to fulfill the Millennium Development Goals environmental sustainability and human rights are inseparable. The challenge is not only overcoming the failure of the developed countries to meet the promises of the Millennium Development Goals, but to stop the continued exploitation of the developing countries. Richard Powers puts it succinctly - "The Blind Will to Drill and Dam is Not Only Absurd, It is Obscene"

We are in the grip of a global sustainability crisis. That grip will only tighten. Conflicts over oil and water threaten to consume us all. It is absurd to imagine that we can drill and dam our way into the future.

Richard provides two poignant reminders -- one from Malaysia:

A secret document accidentally posted on the internet reveals plans to build a series of massive hydroelectric dams in the Malaysian state of Sarawak, submerging the homes of at least a thousand Penan, Kelabit and Kenyah tribal people.

and one from Canada:

Arnie Bellis, vice-president of the Council of the Haida Nation, said in an interview on Monday that the skyrocketing value of oil and gas resources off the British Columbia coast holds little interest for his people compared to the natural environment they have resolved to protect.

You should go to Richard's post to write letters of support.

Richard provides a number of other resources such as this map on Indigenous People. Unfortunately, the link to the United Nations site doesn't seem to be working now.

Richard also provides links to The Eleventh Hour and Spread the Message to Your Friends and Colleagues and his own Left-Handed Security: Overcoming Fear, Greed & Ignorance in This Era of Global Crisis is available now! Click here for more information.

below are technorati tags taken from Richard's post.



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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Blog Action Day 2008 Launch Against Poverty

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It has taken longer than it should have but this new weblog is finally ready to launch. Just in time because not only is the next Stand Up Take Action event set of October 17 - 19, 2008, but the next Blog Action Day is focused on Poverty and set for October 15, 2008. Obviously an opportunity that should not be missed. Information on the next Blog Action Day is provided below.

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Blog Action Day Launches!
It's been almost a year since, with your help, we held the smashingly successful Blog Action Day 2007, and as of a few hours ago, our 2008 campaign has officially begun. This year our theme is "Poverty" and we'll be encouraging bloggers around the world to once again explore this issue on your blogs on October 15th.

Click here to visit the 2008 Site

The 2008 campaign is already off to a big start with no less than 15 of the world's 100 most popular blogs according to Technorati.com have agreed to participate in Blog Action Day this year, including:

TechCrunch.com, ReadWriteWeb.com, Mashable.com, SmashingMagazine.com, GigaOm.com, Jauhari.net, Problogger.net, CopyBlogger.com , DailyBlogTips.com, ZenHabits.net, Inhabitat.com, VentureBeat.com, Mentalfloss.com, PronetAdvertising.com, TorrentFreak.com

Additionally Elena Valenciano, a prominent member of the Spanish Parliament and spokesperson for the Human Rights Committee will be taking part in Blog Action Day.

Ben Rattray, CEO of Change.org is supporting the event, and you can now get involved in the Blog Action Day Network on Change.

... And the campaign is only a few hours old! So without further ado, head over to BlogActionDay.org, register your blogs, watch the new video, and explore the new site because we have an amazing year ahead of us!



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