12 Responses

  1. Luc Lapointe
    Luc Lapointe August 4, 2015 at 5:56 am

    Hopefully they will not be remembered as the UNsustainable Development Goals.

  2. Steven Dorsey
    Steven Dorsey August 4, 2015 at 5:39 am

    It does seem true that the MDGs helped to focus development efforts (or at a minimum, funding efforts) in the past 15 years. Progress was made on several key indicators, and the MDG scheme can be credited for helping to focus efforts and funding. Still, development work continues to be plagued by a lack of evidence-based programming supported by high quality, quantitative and qualitative impact data. Part of the problem is created in the design flaws of much development work, where evidence-based data are not examined, and monitoring and evaluation mechanisms and tools are inadequate to the creation and sharing of high quality data. Short-term projects make valuable longitudinal studies very challenging, if not impossible. Lack of international data standards and data gathering standards cripples our learning. So, in the spirit of this post’s title, below are the lyrics I wrote today for a proposed country song for our discussion:

    Ode to MDGs

    I said good-bye today
    to a trusted mare I rode,
    and fed fifteen years of hay
    to merit this mournful ode.

    She’s been with me all these years;
    I chose her from among the foals.
    Through disappointment, joy and tears
    her name, Millennium Development Goals.

    She took me where I needed to go;
    she gave me comfort, direction and hope.
    She lifted me when I was low;
    she showed me how to cope.


    Now as I prepare to say good-bye
    to a friend, a partner, a mare,
    I wonder about a new ride,
    and how I will ever get there.


    I hear of a new herd in town
    with more variety and breeds,
    bred by a team well renowned
    to meet all relevant needs.


    So today I’m buyin’ a new mount,
    from among the long line of foals,
    and hopin’ she’ll give good account,
    her name, Sustainable Development Goals.

    Altered Chorus

    She’ll be with me in years ahead;
    I chose her from among the foals.
    Through disappointment, joy and dread
    her name, Sustainable Development Goals.

    KARORI SINGH August 3, 2015 at 2:24 pm

    I am delighted to go through your post, Terence, and would like to add some of my observations. It is really nice that global community is empathised to suffering human beings and designing SDGs to replace MDGs. It is certainly an expression of the intentions of the international community. I am sure, these will get UN approval very shortly. The problem will start at the level of execution. The developing countries will definitely show enthusiasm in UN. The ‘third world elite strategy’ is to enthusiastically accept SDGs or any other such proposal to extract grant/aid from the developed countries and sabotage it in implementing at the domestic level when it hurts their interest. The success of SDGs, therefore, will be determined by the commensurate legislation, policy and cultural context of these countries. Quite often we can observe unintended results. For instance, inclusive policy was initiated for elimination of exclusion and it has empowered the impoverished to some extent but strengthened the ‘exclusivity’. So there must be some safeguards in SDGs to prevent such unintended consequences. Similarly, as regards the governance, any goal or strategy which is likely to weaken the domination of the ‘master strategist elite’ in developing countries will be sabotaged at the operational level. Can there be a possibility to incorporate code of governance or norms of elite behaviour in the SDGs? Certainly it will be resisted on the pretext of sovereignty but there must be some kind of global monitoring of the operational dynamics of SDGs in national boundaries without which there will be limited realisation of SDGs. Of course, resources (both material and nonmaterial) component is important but more significant are commensurate policy, legislation, institutions and socio-cultural context of the developing countries. How far and what way SDGs are designed to conform such a prevalent situation is of critical importance. Will you be able to anticipate and elaborate the SDGs-context interface?

  4. Susie Newman
    Susie Newman August 3, 2015 at 10:47 am

    Thanks Terence for your thought provoking article.

    I appreciate that the UN has consulted widely to get to these goals. I wonder how much retrospective learnings came from the MDGs. All MDGs were not successful and so it really begs the question – are we learning from the MDGs? Where’s the Lessons Learned Register? I guess I get frustrated when we (globally we) are very good at writing policy but not very good at implementing it. One of the SDGs should be to have Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation police if you will. Otherwise in 2030 we are going to rehash the wording for the next goals.

  5. George D
    George D August 3, 2015 at 7:18 am

    From where I stand, the MDGs catalysed a vast increase in the amount invested in HIV/AIDS and malaria treatment and prevention. That’s a huge good. (Even if a health system is more than two diseases, the increase there did have large spillover effects into health systems and delivery, and govt prioritisation of health outcomes.)

    It’s difficult to see the same kind of outcome from these vague and non-specific goals. “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being” means absolutely everything and thus absolutely nothing. Hopefully the impetus to health has been sufficiently engrained to make this process superfluous.

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