21 July 2015

Putting People at the Centre

All the lessons of the outgoing Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which have more than halved the number of people living in extreme poverty in the last 15 years through aligning partners around common targets, demonstrate that change is possible where political will exists. They also indicate that we must double our efforts for the next 15 years.

To reach the most vulnerable among us, traditional forms of aid are not enough. For the new goals to succeed, a comprehensive financing framework is essential.

Ensuring the new global goals, which set ambitious targets on poverty, inequality, and climate change, entails meeting them with equally ambitious financial investments and implementation plans. It is a complex task, but one that must be tackled if the goals are to succeed, giving us the world we want by 2030.

Just as there are multiple approaches to ending poverty, there should be multiple sources of financing. Commitments must be sought from every source – government, business, civil society – because it really will take every sector to make this happen.

In the end, there will be an agreement on a global partnership to properly resource and implement the new global goals – but just as importantly, there will also be concrete commitments announced to put this agreement into action. Because it is clear that no matter how great our ambitions are, they will not be realised without action – and everyone must contribute.

The private sector needs to be on board and so do ordinary citizens. The future for financing needs to be creative, incentivised and inclusive and there are a myriad of ways this can be done.

The 2002 Monterrey Consensus led to a considerable increase in Official Development Assistance (ODA), but this form of funding, whilst crucial, is not enough.

Inspired by the MDGs, many countries, including my own, implemented national frameworks for poverty reduction.  In our case, collective action at the local level helped to lift one million Rwandans out of poverty between 2006 and 2011. While this helped to achieve higher levels of economic growth and social progress, we must commit to do more to achieve sustainable change.

Governments must take responsibility for their development while encouraging partners from the public and private sector to support their efforts. A good example of this is the Global Financing Facility in support of Every Woman Every Child, a country-driven financing partnership launched this week to scale and sustain efforts to end preventable maternal, newborn, child and adolescent deaths by 2030.

The new global goals commit to leaving no person and no country behind. With this in mind, the SDGs show that many countries in special situations, in particular countries experiencing or emerging from conflict, need enhanced support.

They need extra help transforming their economies and harnessing benefits from international trade as well as developing efficient transport and transit systems. There needs to be better, more targeted, aid allocations and, crucially, more private investment.

Full and productive employment must be a central objective, in every country, with the full and equal participation of men and women and micro, small and medium-sized enterprises must have access to finance.

Public-private partnerships must be encouraged, sustainable and resilient infrastructure put in place, markets opened and made fairer to allow developing countries to make the most of their own resources, be they labour or natural resources.

Countries must be encouraged to set spending targets for quality investments in essential public services such as health, education, energy and sanitation. The last fifteen years have seen spectacular successes in so many areas – over one billion people lifted out of extreme poverty, child mortality more than halved, ODA reaching a record high in 2013 – despite the immense challenges of the 2008 global financial crisis, climate change and human conflicts.

There will no doubt be more challenges in the next 15 years but if the new targets are backed by a universally-agreed implementation plan, there is no reason they should not weather the storms ahead.

To make development truly sustainable, it must have the people it seeks to serve at its core. This people-centred approach sets the new goals apart from any previous effort. It makes them a contract between governments and people – not between governments and governments.

When we meet in New York this September to ratify the goals it will not just be a symbolic shaking of hands, because we know our people will hold us accountable for reaching them.

This accountability, combined with an intelligent, comprehensive financing framework, gives us every opportunity to make the changes we want and need.

This op-ed was plublished in the Addis Fortune on July 20