Sachs: Challenges to MDGs 'International in Origin'

Columbia University professor Jeffrey Sach (right) with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Photo by: United Nations/Mark Garten

In the decade-long campaign to make strides toward the Millennium Development Goals, “a great deal” has been achieved particularly in Africa, Jeffrey Sachs argues.

AIDS incidence has declined, Africa’s economy has picked up, and extreme poverty has shrunk, the economist notes. Some African governments have also adopted national planning strategies based on the MDGs, he adds.

“Ironically, though, the main obstacles to achieving the goals by 2015 in Africa are international in origin, many due to high-income countries,” Sachs writes in an op-ed  for The New York Times.

Sachs gives a rundown of six challenges in attaining the MDGs.

- Shortfall in donor commitment to financial pledges for Africa: Donors in 2005 pledged to mobilize some USD60 billion in financing for Africa by 2010. Actual aid is only about USD45 billion, Sachs notes.

- “Human-induced” climate change: Africa, which has contributed by far the least to human-induced climate change, is bearing the brunt of the adverse impacts of climate change through drought and crop failures.

- Large-scale corruption: This is often fueled by major American, European and Asian firms, which “[spread] the big dollars around,” Sachs writes.

- “Rampant” population growth: Sachs says the Roman Catholic Church continues to oppose birth control and family planning.

- Trade: While Europe and the U.S. advocate free trade, they close their markets to African agricultural products, Sachs notes.

- Neglect: Sachs says U.S. President Barack Obama has “hardly said a word” about the MDGs to the American people. He argues that these development goals, instead of military spending, can help the U.S. and other nations foster security in places such as Afghanistan, Yemen and the Horn of Africa.  

Devex News – live breaking news coverage of the Millennium Development Goals and the Sept. 20-22 U.N. MDG summit in New York. 

About the author

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    Ma. Rizza Leonzon

    As a former staff writer, Rizza focused mainly on business coverage, including key donors such as the Asian Development Bank and AusAID.