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Reactions to post-2015 MDGs European discussions

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Thursday, 18 April 2013

Reactions to post-2015 MDGs European discussions

As European Commission leaders make calls for EU countries to raise their spending on development aid for the world’s poor, groups working in underdeveloped states have warned that without more effective aid policies and networks, extra financing may be wasted. Moreover, an architect of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) has warned that the European Union runs the risk of overreach as it tries to shape the future international anti-poverty agenda.
Assembled at the launch of the European Report on Development (ERD) at the beginning of April in Brussels, speakers pointed out that rich nations must look very carefully at the wider development agenda if they are to get “value for money” from their aid contributions. NGOs complain that there is a lack of understanding about the development needs of individual countries and that setting arbitrary targets or goals internationally is not always useful at a local level; there is a feeling among some groups that richer countries, including those in the EU, do not listen carefully enough to the voices of those in poorer nations about aid. “Just giving money to poorer countries and telling them to meet some arbitrary targets is a ‘lose-lose’ situation for all involved. The donor states’ taxpayers do not get value for money if nothing is changed and it is no good for the developing countries if they get money but can’t use it to their own requirements”, Dr Debapriya Battacharya, Chair of Southern Voice on Post-MDG International Development Goals – a network of more than 40 think tanks from South Asia, Africa and Latin America said. She considers that the ‘post-2015’ debate is a “balance of power”, with a strong asymmetry in the North, in terms of knowledge especially. This is why, experience from the south should be taken more into account in the discussion.
Additionally, simply increasing aid financing would not be enough, NGOs believe. Gerard Vives, European coordinator for the European NGO CONCORD’s ‘Beyond2015’ campaign, told Inter Press Service (IPS): “The European Union must champion a global framework that places people at its centre. This means focusing on human rights and accountability”.
Jan Vandemoortele, a co-architect of the MDGs and now an independent author and lecturer is not confident that a new global framework for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will be actually found.  “Now, everyone around the table wants their issue included in the new replacement for the MDGs. That cannot work. Someone has to make a decision to leave something out. You have to ask is the new framework about a means to a development end or about the ultimate end itself? I think it has to be about the ultimate end itself and issues like trade and finance are a means, not an end, and they should be left out”, he said. Creating targets that are too specific “will always clash with national priorities,” Vandemoortele told EurActiv.
He also assessed that the proposals from the European Commission and independent panel of experts risked “overload, prescription and donorship” that could set advanced nations on a collision course with emerging economic powers. “The whole debate is an effort to keep the old script going, the old script of the ‘90s,” Vandemoortele said.
Since the MDGs were created, stagnation in advanced countries and the emergence of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – the so-called BRICS - as economic powers have meant a shift in global dynamics. The BRICs, along with many of the Group of 77 developing nations, resisted EU efforts at the 2009 Copenhagen climate conference and the 2012 Rio summit on sustainable development to agree binding international climate and environmental targets. That could happen again in the post-MDG discussions, Vandemoortele said, adding that the BRICS and G77 “will likely take a different view of the post-2015 agenda”.
“I don’t know how to do it this time,” he added. “The more I listen and the more I read, that may be the fate of this process, that it may not yield a result at all.”

The MDGs, which call for reducing poverty and hunger, achieving universal education and other targets, are due to expire in 2015. Discussions are now under way to develop a successor.

Source: IPS, Euractiv