I'm in New York this week to engage in the Post 2015 development process first hand. I know I'm not alone when I say that the process to agree a new agenda for the fight on global poverty is confusing and impenetrable. This week's focus is on financing and implementation. It's the "who's-going-to-pay?" and "how's-it-going-to-happen?" parts of the puzzle.
Every child, no matter whether their country is rich or poor, whether they live in a village or a city, should be going to school today. Yet despite the 2015 deadline to provide 'Education for All' this isn't happening. Our collective failure to reach global education goals means that 121 million children and adolescents are being denied their right to attend school.
Feeding a growing global population of nine billion people by 2050 is one of the world's biggest challenges--especially in the context of rapid urbanisation, rising amounts of food waste and climate change. During one day of discussions senior executives from agribusiness, policymaking and the NGO community examined approaches to food and nutrition security.
When grassroots communities described their realities, they taught me that the development they envisioned is not the same as the development the majority of the world imagines they want. In their own narrative, the strongest message from communities is a deep desire to be given the ability to do it for themselves.
The spectacular GDP growth recorded by some West African countries in the past 5 years is all of a sudden undermined by the spread of the Ebola virus. The epidemic has put under the spotlight the poor conditions of health systems in the region, but also the fragility of economic models measured only by Gross Domestic Product.
I say goodbye because as well-intended as the aid industry is it willfully overlooks the basic lesson of political economy: that economies develop, institutions are built, and governance becomes more robust in poor countries through the same bargaining processes that have worked for formerly-poor countries in the past.
By investing to make contraception available to every woman who wants it, improving access to safe abortion where it's legal and making sure that medical care is readily available when things go wrong we can make a real difference. It's not rocket science - even for someone still relatively new to the development sector like me.
Disability, infertility, being shunned by your community and in the worst case even death: these are just some of the terrifying risks women expose themselves to when they have an unsafe abortion. Yet every year 21.6 million women, 99% of them in the developing world, are so desperate to end an unwanted pregnancy that they will quite literally risk their lives.
We can't escape the fact that throughout history countries are most carbon-intense and least sustainable on their way to becoming rich; not when they get there. So if the message to developing countries is that they are not allowed to develop in the same way as rich countries developed... are we sure that they will sign up to this?
Sierra Leone should be one of the most prosperous countries in West Africa, with its diamonds, iron ore and bauxite reserves. Yet, the vast majority of its people live in grinding poverty, and the country has the fourth highest maternal mortality rate in the world. On health, though, it is making progress.
Poverty has always been with humanity - even Jesus said that the poor would always be with us. Yet while nothing short of a miracle would have made poverty eradication possible 2,000 years ago - neither emperors nor kings had the knowledge or resources to do it - today, we have what it takes to tackle poverty.
The goal of extreme poverty reduction is surely the best-known of the UN's eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). On the face of it, target 1a - to halve, from 1990 levels, the proportion of people living on less than $1.25 a day by 2015 - is seen as a success story of the MDGs project, having been achieved five years ahead of schedule.
As the 2015 end-date of the MDGS draws near, a puzzle remains: why has the target on clean water been surpassed, while progress on sanitation has been so poor? Surely water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) go together? This question goes to the heart of the MDG worldview, and the problem of measuring development generally.