Last week, the General Assembly met and discussed their commitment to post 2015 development goals. They adopted an outcome document that again does not address the issue of unclear roles, responsibilities and accountability mechanisms in achieving the current and future MDGs. It is obvious that without these, the current Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will never be met by 2015 and as long as the new ones lack concrete tasks and accountability for various governance groups, it will also never be met.
While the current MDGs are commendable for their focus on poverty reduction, the targets carry no obligation. There is no reference as to how they should be accomplished, or who is ultimately responsible for achieving them. The MDGs have suffered a case of undefined “common but differentiated responsibilities”.
For example: despite the fact that we have recently learned that the number of child labourers has fallen, there are still 168 million children trapped in child labour. Eleven per cent of the world’s children are at work instead of going to school. This means that MDG 2: “Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling” will not be achieved. During the General Assembly, Prime Minister Enrico Letta of Italy stressed that worldwide one in eight people still suffer from malnutrition and that food security should be a priority in reference to the debate of the new set of goals after 2015. He is right. Added to this, about 98 million children are child labourers in our global food and agriculture system.
The big question is, who should address this and who will follow-up? What specific efforts are expected from the various governance groups? Is it the governments, international organisations, the development organisations, the multinationals or citizens who need to take action? Which accountability measures will be used to follow-up?
It is time that we realize that to beat poverty and hunger, we need to get serious about defining roles, responsibilities and accountability, because pledges and commitments without actual delivery, accountability and consequences, will get us nowhere near realizing the MDGs by 2015 or even post 2015.
Image by: Nicolas Raymond (CC license)