The MDGs are so over
Having just been rude about one World Bank report, here’s a positive review of another – the Global Monitoring Report 2011, which the Bank produces jointly with the IMF.
The GMR updates progress against the Millennium Development Goals – targets that were set as the culmination of a push throughout the 1990s to take poverty to the centre of the international agenda.
For a long time, it seemed that the MDGs were going to be an embarrassing failure. In 2009, as the UN prepared for the 2010 MDG review conference, Kofi Annan rang the alarm:
We have been moving too slowly to meet our goals. And today, we face a global economic crisis whose full repercussions have yet to be felt. At the very least, it will throw us off course in a number of key areas, particularly in the developing countries. At worst, it could prevent us from keeping our promises, plunging millions more into poverty and posing a risk of social and political unrest. That is an outcome we must avoid at all costs.
The MDGs’ many critics felt vindicated. In particular, Bill “just asking that aid benefit the poor” Easterly was over the moon. “Let’s face it: it’s over,” he wrote. “The MDGs will not be met.” Idealistic development campaigners had wasted their time on a set of arbitrary and poorly designed goals. Africa had been deliberately made to look like a failure, in what was an unforgiveable set up.
The 2010 MDG summit was a somewhat sombre affair. Sir Bob Geldof (seen saluting the troops, above) demanded that all 189 leaders who agreed the Millennium Declaration should be pulled out of retirement (or the ground, if applicable) to issue a personal apology to him, and the world’s poor. [OK – I made that bit up.]
But wait a minute…