New UN goals very vague

In 2000, the adopted eight Millennium Development Goals for 2000 to 2015. They were:

  • Goal 1: Eradicate Extreme Hunger and Poverty
  • Goal 2: Achieve Universal Primary Education
  • Goal 3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women
  • Goal 4: Reduce Child Mortality
  • Goal 5: Improve Maternal Health
  • Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases
  • Goal 7: Ensure Environmental Sustainability
  • Goal 8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development

They were reasonably specific, and in most of the eight areas there has been significant progress, namely:

  • Goal 1: Eradicate Extreme Hunger and Poverty – down from 47% to 14%
  • Goal 2: Achieve Universal Primary Education – up from 83% to 91%
  • Goal 3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women – ratio of girls to boys in education in Southern Asia up from 74 per 100 to 103.
  • Goal 4: Reduce Child Mortality – down from 90 per 1,000 to 43
  • Goal 5: Improve Maternal Health – maternal mortality rate down 45%
  • Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases – new HIV infections down 40%
  • Goal 7: Ensure Environmental Sustainability – 2.1 billion people have improved sanitation
  • Goal 8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development – ODA spending up 66%

Now I don’t think much of the progress is just because the UN made them a goal. It helps having the focus, but the reduction in extreme poverty for example is due to China and India embracing a more market economy.

But it is not a bad thing for there to be specific development goals, rather than have no co-ordination or targets. So the MDGs generally have been a good thing.

But the 17 new goals to replace this seem like waffle which are so broad, they won’t actually provide any focus. The 17 new goals are:

  • 1. No Poverty
  • 2. No Hunger
  • 3. Good Health and Well-being
  • 4. Quality Education
  • 5. Gender Equality
  • 6. Clean Water and Sanitation
  • 7. Affordable and Clean Energy
  • 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • 9. Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • 10. Reduce Inequalities
  • 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • 12. Responsible Consumption and Production
  • 13. Climate Action
  • 14. “Life Below Water”
  • 15. Life on Land
  • 16. “Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions”
  • 17. Partnerships For the Goals

Take the targets for Goal 5. There is no hard measures there. Just aspirational statements about ending all forms of discrimination against all women. Well we know that isn’t going to happen in any country with sharia law.

If I do a comparison back to NZ, the health system here under Labour had almost 100 goals, targets and aims. And it was shambolic. National introduced just six to eight specific but achievable targets and the health system and staff have done a great job of achieving them. Fewer goals with specific targets is better than lots of goals.

So I think the 17 global goals will be far far less effective than the MDGs they are replacing. And that is a pity.

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