Whose Goals Count? Lessons for Setting the Next Development Goals

Edited by: Richard Manning, Charlotte Harland Scott and Lawrence Haddad

September 2013
Volume 44 Number 5-6

As world leaders prepare for the special event on the Millennium Development Goals at the United Nations on 25 September 2013, and as momentum builds in the debate about the case for Sustainable Development Goals beyond 2015, this IDS Bulletin compiles reflections from various actors on the core elements of the MDGs and also on topics not explicitly covered in them, such as governance, participation and infrastructure.

Contributors include a serving President, a serving Minister, two Board members of IDS, and a wide range of academic and civil society representatives, plus a foreword from Sir Richard Jolly. Articles demonstrate the diversity of country and thematic responses to the MDGs, yet some common themes noticeably come through.

There is clear support for the UN High-level Panel’s emphasis on leaving no one behind, on sustainable development, and on transforming economies for jobs and inclusive growth; and its call to merge the social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainability. The Panel's proposal that governments could choose an appropriate level of ambition for each target partly addresses contributors' concerns about local ownership, while leaving potential for other actors to set objectives. The inclusion of clearer goals for employment, governance and energy also resonates with contributors.

The open discussion of the value and contents of a new paradigm after 2015 represents a real advance from the situation in 2000–01, when the MDG framework was put in place behind closed doors. We hope that this IDS Bulletin will be a further contribution from IDS to an outcome that really will change people’s lives sustainably for the better.