Helen Clark: We can’t lose sight of MDGs

    Helen Clark, administrator of the United Nations Development Program. Photo by: Chatham House / CC BY

    With barely two years to go until the Millennium Development Goals expire, what can be done to fast-track their attainment?

    Some 150 participants from about 40 countries seek to answer this question in the two-day 2013 Global Millennium Development Goals Conference in Bogota, Colombia, that ends today.

    At the conference, United Nations Development Program Administrator Helen Clark led discussions between experts from think tanks and practitioners from various U.N. agencies, development bodies, governments, academia and the civil society to pinpoint the practical opportunities that can make headway with the MDGs and the reasons why the MDGs work. The aim: to keep the ball rolling until the MDGs expire in December 2015.

    In her opening speech, Clark recognized the need to consider a post-2015 development framework, while stressing the importance of ensuring that the MDGs will be met.

    “31 December 2015 is little more than 1,000 days away, so there is no time to lose!” Clark remarked. “The more the world can achieve on the MDGs, the more it will be possible to build confidence and support for a bold and ambitious post-2015 development agenda.”

    Clark believes that the lessons learned from MDG initiatives will lay the groundwork for a successful post-2015 framework.

    “Everything learned from what it takes to achieve them is relevant to throwing ourselves behind the global development agenda which follows,” she said. “It has never been more important to have robust evidence of what makes the MDGs work.”

    According to Clark, more work needs to be done in cutting the MDG targets of food scarcity, poor sanitation and high maternal death rates by 2015.

    Below are some takeaways from Clark’s speech:

    Recommendations for achieving the MDGs:

    • National ownership and local champions are indispensable.

    • Dedicated policies and actions are needed to go the last mile in reaching those still excluded by development.

    • The use of the U.N. Development Group’s MDG Acceleration Framework, which was developed by the UNDP and piloted by U.N. country teams, should be maximized. MAF pools together various stakeholders to tackle obstacles to progress, while drawing on existing evidence, policies and strategies to devise concrete and prioritized country action plans. Some 45 countries have now used the MAF, with more to go.

    Why the MDGs work:

    • They offer measurable and time-bound goals, targets and indicators, leading to concrete results.

    • By defining the desired outcomes in human development terms, the MDGs placed the well-being of people at the center of development efforts.

    The conference will conclude with the release of a global report on MDG achievement and acceleration.

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    About the author

    • Johanna Morden

      Johanna Morden is a community development worker by training and a global development journalist by profession. As a former Devex staff writer based in Manila, she covered the Asian Development Bank as well as Asia-Pacific's aid community at large. Johanna has written for a variety of international publications, covering social issues, disasters, government, ICT, business, and the law.