In 2000, 189 countries collectively adopted the United
Nations Millennium Declaration, which evolved into a set of concrete targets
called the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

These ambitious targets – ranging from halving extreme
poverty and reducing maternal mortality by three-quarters to achieving
universal primary schooling and halting (and beginning to reverse) the spread
of HIV/Aids– are supposed to be met by the end of 2015. As the deadline
approaches, development experts are debating a new question: What comes next?

It is virtually certain that many of the MDGs will not have
been met by the end of 2015, but there have been striking successes in some

For example, the goal of halving extreme poverty (measured
by the number of people living on less than $1.25 a day) will likely be
achieved ahead of time, largely thanks to China’s phenomenal growth.

At the same time, there is little evidence to suggest that
those successes were the result of the MDGs themselves. Many development
economists would argue that significant improvements in governance and
political institutions are required before such goals can be achieved. The most
that rich countries can do is to provide an enabling environment for the
benefit of developing countries that are willing and able to take advantage of

These considerations suggest an obvious direction for the
next iteration of the MDGs. First, a new global compact should focus more
directly on rich countries’ responsibilities.

Second, it should emphasise policies beyond aid and trade
that have an equal, if not greater, impact on poor countries’ development

A short list of such policies would include: carbon taxes
and other measures to ameliorate climate change; more work visas to allow
larger temporary migration flows from poor countries; strict controls on arms
sales to developing nations; reduced support for repressive regimes; and
improved sharing of financial information to reduce money laundering and tax

Notice that most of these measures are actually aimed at
reducing damage. This kind of reorientation will not be easy. Advanced
countries are certain to resist any new commitments. But most of these measures
do not cost money.

If the international community is going to invest in a bold
new public-relations initiative, it might as well focus on areas where the
potential payoffs are the greatest.
Article by Dani Rodrik who is a Professor of International Political Economy at
Harvard University


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