At the recent 7th Seoul Official Development Assistance (ODA) International Conference, there was lively discussion about the future of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and what will happen when they expire.
The MDGs, set by the UN to eradicate poverty across the globe, expire in 2015 and the future of development goals was the main topic of discussion on October 8. Following the keynote speeches, there were three sessions of panel discussions on ODA and Development Finance, Inclusive and Sustainable Development and Constructing an Environment for Sustainable Development. Attendees included world-class scholars and practitioners, with a diverse range of experience and expertise.
“The MDGs have been the most successful and most widely supported international development standard in the world,” said Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) President Kim Young-mok in the opening speech. “Due to such cooperation in international development, the number of people living in absolute poverty has decreased and access to primary education has improved.”
“People want to see the themes covered by the MDGs continue in the post-2015 period,” said Rebeca Grynspan, UN Under Secretary General and UNDP Associate Administrator. “Education, health and the eradication of poverty continue to be people’s highest priorities. Coming up onto the agenda over recent years, we’ve seen that people not only want access, but want access to quality health care and education.”
To this end, she said, “Member states have declared that they will work toward a single framework and set of goals, universal in nature and applicable in all countries, while taking into account differing national circumstances and respecting national policies and priorities.”
“Peace and security, democratic governance, the rule of law, gender equality and human rights for all are key issues for the future agenda,” she added.
Grynspan also said that although the details of the 2015 agenda are yet to be determined, the ODA will certainly continue to play a critical role, particularly in low-income countries and fragile states where revenue-mobilization is challenging.
British Ambassador to Korea Scott Wightman also said recent changes to the financial landscape in which the ODA operates do not decrease the importance of the ODA and it will remain vital for providing support to the very poorest countries and to those without the means of raising international finance elsewhere.
Speaking of the 2011 Busan Declaration, which shifted toward development effectiveness, Wightman said, “The international development agenda was placing more emphasis on growth and accountability, and the cooperation required to promote growth was about much more than just aid.”
Speaking of the “five transformative shifts” used to guide the shape of the new agenda and put forward by a panel appointed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, he said we should leave no one behind as we finish the job started with the MDGs and end extreme poverty.