Speech – Beyond 2015: The Future of Development Goals next generation of MDGs

Speech – Beyond 2015: The Future of Development Goals next generation of MDGs
Remarks to the 4th OECD World Forum, Round Table 2, October 17, 2012, New Delhi
Otaviano Canuto, Vice President, Poverty Reduction and Economic Management, The World Bank

Editor’s Excerpt:
“…At the Rio+20 Summit, the international community agreed to adopt a new set of universal sustainable development goals (SDGs), a more focused and quantitative set of goals directly addressing environmental and social sustainability.  Integrating this framework with the next set of goals has a number of advantages:  it will help donors, practitioners, and policy makers face a consolidated set of incentives and accountabilities, and it will help more inextricably link sustainability and development, further diminishing the legitimacy of the “grow now, clean up later” argument.

Most importantly, it will foster synergies among our development objectives:  for instance, how can we alleviate poverty without addressing water and sanitation problems?  Water is essential for livelihood security, reducing health risks, eradicating hunger, minimizing vulnerability to water-related disasters, and fostering pro-poor economic growth.  Furthermore, women almost exclusively bear the burden of water-hauling.  This not only exposes them to safety risks in many cases, but also reduces or entirely eliminates their time for education and productive activities, consequently holding them back from seizing opportunities for economic empowerment.

A number of issues on the design of the SDGs remain to be discussed, but we already have a clear picture of the elements required for them to be effective.

First, a meaningful SDGs framework will embrace the need to move beyond GDP to a more comprehensive accounting of nations’ wealth, including natural, human, social, and physical capital—thereby providing countries with the means to monitor their progress.

Second, it should encompass all three pillars of sustainable development, based on indicators of inclusiveness and equity in addition to environmental sustainability.

Third, the SDGs will inevitably include a mix of local and global public goods, and should thus be crafted in a way that enables geographic differentiation in targets, perhaps with a globally agreed minimum standard.  It makes sense to include both top-down and bottom-up approaches:  the former involves translating a global objective into national commitments, while the latter entails countries committing to individual levels of effort, the sum of which is the global goal.

Fourth, contrary to the results-based MDGs, targeting relative or absolute gains with respect to specific indicators, the SDGs will likely benefit from a blend of results-based targets for 2030 (or even 2050, 2100) and policy targets for the shorter term.

Finally, the complexity of sustainability may require more detailed and precise goals that simplify the operationalization of goals into policy changes.  Ideally, we would include a limited number of easy-to-communicate goals – comparable to the MDG poverty goals – and a series of more precise, sector-specific goals…”