The Blog

Why Wait to Design a Better World for All?

Last week, theissued its recommendations for a framework to replace the Millennium Development Goals after they come to an end in 2015.

Last week, the UN High Level Panel issued its recommendations for a framework to replace the Millennium Development Goals after they come to an end in 2015. The aim is to eradicate poverty and transform economies through sustainable development. Despite an inclusive consultation process and a truly diverse composition of the panel itself, I readily admit that my expectations were low. Often enough, such reports that are based on broad input risk being watered down to minimum consensus. This report is quite the opposite however. It is ambitious and far-reaching.

Three things in particular stood out for me. First, there is the importance of focusing on women. If we want to tackle this ambitious agenda with success, we must make raising women's status a central objective. It was encouraging to see the High Level Panel recognise this point and make gender equality a stand-alone goal. Women constitute the majority of the world's poor, but they also reinvest 90% of their income into their families. Women stand a better chance of walking away from violence and abuse when they are financially independent and when they are able to own property and land on their own.

Second, the role of the private sector features prominently in the High Level Panel's report. Given that 90% of jobs are created by the private sector in developing countries, this is right. The private sector has a significant responsibility in responding to this call for action. If we are serious about a sustainable development agenda, we need corporations to be on board in forming global partnerships to tackle these complex challenges with scale. It is in their interest. The private sector will be able to benefit from infinite market opportunities, for example in the energy sector and in targeting the bottom of the pyramid with pro-poor growth products. On the flip side, the private sector needs to be held more accountable when it comes to labour and environmental standards, gender equality and good governance. Taking short-cuts on these important sustainability issues cannot be tolerated.

Third, there is an emphasis on global partnerships and governance. In particular, developed economies need to be more serious about designing a robust international financing framework, committing to climate change targets and reframing their trade and tax policies. The implementation of Millennium Development Goal eight, namely developing a global partnership for development, failed not least because a lack of real commitment from the developed world. Citizens in developed countries were hardly aware of the Millennium Development Declaration. It is no wonder they did not hold their governments to account. Development was seen as an issue for the aid community alone and not understood to be a vision for inclusive sustainable development for all on a global scale. This will need to change if the ambitious agenda set out in the post 2015 report is to be implemented.

With such a substantive roadmap for development and the clear call for the private sector and developed countries to get more involved, the question arises, why wait? The world's pressing problems are not going to halt between here and 2015 and we should start addressing them with renewed vigour.

The High Level Panel's recommendations can be used today. Now is the time to make more progress in the fight to end poverty. Let's not wait until 2015 to get started. Technology allows us to reach most of the world's citizens even in the most remote corner. Hence we have no excuse for not forming a broad based movement around the implementation. It is not sufficient to consult a large variety of stakeholders in preparing the recommendations. We equally need a broad based alliance for action, one where all governments participate in building a more equal society, all school curricula include the new goals as an opportunity for students to engage in building the world they want, every employer across the globe engages employees in a dialogue on sustainable development and what that means for their business. So let's start now with dreaming big and acting fast.