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Beyond 2015 – what comes after the Millennium Development Goals?


I’m writing this blog post on the train back from Brussels. It’s a good time to reflect (away from other distractions) on the vast amount of information I’ve absorbed over the last two days at the Beyond 2015 conference – part of a global campaign to kick-start the conversation about what happens after 2015…

Why is 2015 an important year?

2015 is the year that the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) end. The MDGs are a set of eight goals that were agreed back in 2000, with the aim of addressing global development challenges. The goals include halving poverty, reducing child mortality, improving education, tackling gender equality and more.

A mother and her child collecting spring water from a local spring in Lamahai, Nepal © Simon de Trey-White / WWF-UKThrough WWF working with the local community, many springs are now set up to provide water to the local populace in Lamahai, Nepal, helping to meet MDG7 © Simon de Trey-White / WWF-UK

The MDGs brought real global co-operation, helping the international community to work more effectively. Don’t get me wrong – it’s been far from plain sailing, and many of the problems are still deeply entrenched. More on the MDGs and lessons learnt from them later. But what they did bring to the world was a global awareness and the sense that, together, we can make progress on some of these problems.

Criticisms of the MDGs are often well founded. For one thing, they addressed the problems as single issues, without seeing the interrelation between many of them.

For another, they only looked at developing countries, which meant that the causes and drivers of many of these issues – which usually originate in developed and industrialised countries – weren’t addressed.

WWF is taking part in Beyond 2015 because we see this as an important moment for the world. It’s a chance for us to learn from the last decade and a half, and to share our experience of what makes a difference.

Aerial view of an unpaved road dividing a soya monoculture from the native Cerrado, Brazil © Adriano GambariniAerial view of an unpaved road dividing a soya (Glycine max) monoculture from the native Cerrado, in the region of Ribeiro Gonçalves, Piauí, Brazil © Adriano Gambarini

Beyond 2015 is a great platform for civil society (community groups, NGOs and others) to come together to contribute to these decisions. It’s often forgotten how closely the environment and poverty work together – we all depend on clean air, food, fresh water – but the poorest communities are frequently also the most vulnerable when the environment is damaged. And environmental damage is sometimes driven by poverty as well.

The UK is going to play a leading role in all this. Not only is the Department for International Development (DFID) an influential development agency globally, David Cameron has also been nominated to be one of three co-chairs on a high-level panel on what happens after the MDGs.

This panel is being convened by the United Nations, and along with the presidents of Liberia and Indonesia, global experts, and (hopefully) civil society representatives, they’ll produce a report to inform decision-making on these issues.

So NGOs in the UK had better work out what they want to say, and soon.

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