Is there life after the Millennium Development Goals?!

I’ve been going to lots of meetings and events recently thinking about what comes after 2015.  From the way some are talking, 2015 practically represents the end of the (development) world as we know it.  For those of you still waiting for the morning caffeine to kick in, a reminder that 2015 is the target year for the world to achieve the MDGs and halve poverty in the process.  2015+ matters because even if we do hit the target (and that’s looking pretty impossible), there’s still the other half of those stuck in poverty to think about.  Greater minds than me have been blogging on this; see the likes of Duncan Green, ODI and various Guardian authors.  So what comes next?  Should anything come next at all?

It would be really easy to focus on all the Bad Stuff that the MDGs have done.  We know that they’ve led people to ignore some things (like jobs) and focus on others (like primary education); that they don’t very accurately show the real progress made by countries starting with low baselines.  Even worse, since the MDGs were agreed we’re now also dealing with a climate, economic and food/land/water resources meltdown.

Rather than joining in with MDG-bashing and doom-and-gloom, I’d rather focus on dreaming big.  What kind of a world do we want our kids to grow up in?  What are we aiming for?  Then we can ask what global agreements help us reach that point.

The popularity of the concept of “wellbeing” has rapidly increased in answer to these questions.  Global Dashboard and others have been thinking about what it means for people to be truly well.  Not just by having enough food, but by having choice in their lives, or by being able to be part of their own solutions.  Even the UK Government is trying to measure just how happy we Brits really are.

We’ve been thinking about the idea of increasing wellbeing here at Tearfund.  We like the idea that the end goal of development should be people flourishing and thriving in a way that is meaningful to them.  We’ve even produced a report about it (in conjunction with CAFOD and Theos) – “Wholly Living”.

I’m excited at the idea of seeing people as more than the sum of what they own or have the power to acquire, instead asking what they have the potential to create or to contribute towards.

Which is why I like the stance of a group called Beyond 2015.  It’s an organic group of people from nearly 50 countries who all want to be part of answering the question, what comes next?  At the moment they’re arguing that the world shouldn’t be focussing on the content of a post 2015 agreement, but the process by which it is decided.  Let’s face it; it’s a heck of a lot harder to get the views of a remote community in the middle of nowhere than it is to hear from all the donors and NGOs based in London, New York or Brussels.  This is a group trying really hard to include those without Skype, the internet, or even (gasp) electric.  If you haven’t thought about this topic much, I’d really encourage you to check out their website and get involved.  Have your say!  Do you agree/disagree?  Who should be included – and who shouldn’t?  Who should hold the reigns of post 2015 agreements – the UN or something else?  What’s the best ways the world can agree to end poverty after 2015?

Excited?  I am.

A part of it?  You should be.


  1. […] are then set.  A lot of work has already been done one the post-MDG agenda (see our previous blog and the Beyond 2015 website)  and efforts are being made to ensure that this process is […]

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