Last week in New York over 160 leaders from around the world signed an agreement that will shape all of our destinies and radically change the way we tackle poverty, inequality and climate change. In more than 25 years working in international development, this is perhaps the most pivotal moment I have had the privilege to be part of. A decade and a half after we ushered in a new era with the Millennium Development Goals, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will come into force.
This week sees one of the most important events in Earth's recent history, so please pay attention... On Friday, world leaders will gather at the UN to ratify the 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development, and set a path for 2030 to eradicate poverty, tackle inequality and fix climate change. Yep, it's pretty significant.
Through my experience with the Kiuyu Mbuyuni MVP, I believe that an integrated approach to grassroots development is essential to a Post 2015, SDG world. I also think that, given the size of the challenge, we need to celebrate those willing to innovate because finding a way to eradicate poverty will not happen by accident or by good intention.
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.