The post-2015 development agenda must confront inequality and needs to have stronger accountability mechanisms if the world is to eradicate poverty by 2030, a charity said on Tuesday.
Ending Poverty in Our Generation, a report from Save the Children, sets out its priorities in proposals for new targets to replace the UN’s millennium development goals (MDGs), which have a 2015 deadline.
Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, has named the UK prime minister, David Cameron, the Liberian president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono as co-chairs of a high-level panel to advise him on the global development agenda after 2015.
The panel held its first substantive meeting in London in November. The next meeting is scheduled for the end of January in Monrovia, Liberia, to be followed by one in Indonesia. The panel’s report is to be submitted to Ban in May. Alongside this process, a working group is being set up to decide a set of global sustainable goals, an outcome of the Rio+20 conference in June.
The MDGs, agreed in 2000, set out eight specific – and ambitious – goals, including eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary school education, and reducing maternal and child mortality rates. Some of those goals in some countries are expected to be achieved by the 2015 deadline, but not others.
The Save the Children report argues that the post-MDG framework cannot ignore inequality, saying it “must place tackling inequality front and centre”. It says the top 5% of the world’s population is understood to have 37% of global income, while the bottom 5% has less than 0.2% – and the income of the top 1.75% of the world’s population matches the entire income of the poorest 77%.
Reducing inequality is one of the most effective strategies to accelerate national rates of progress and is an effective those who are most excluded and marginalised, said Save the Children. The NGO is not alone in stressing the importance of addressing inequality in the next development goals. Institutions such as the African Development Bank have acknowledged that the lack of jobs and the gap between rich and poor was a factor behind the Arab spring.
“Gross inequality hinders both economic growth and progress in human wellbeing, and it undermines children’s sense of self-worth, which in turn can undermine their life-long development,” says the report.
Núria Molina, director of policy and research at Save the Children acknowledges that inequality is a highly charged political issue, but says it was very much an issue of public concern. “Things that once seemed intractable can shift very quickly,” she says. “Look at India where gender inequality [following the gang rape in Delhi] is now a subject of debate and look at the discussion on tax justice in the UK [after reports of low tax payments by US corporations to the UK].”
The report cites Brazil and China as countries that have made progress against inequality. It said Brazil in the last decade had seen the incomes of the fifth poorest rise by 6% a year, three times as much as much as those of the top fifth. In China, regional development strategies have helped to narrow the gap between disadvantaged western, central and north-eastern regions and the richer south-east.
Apart from the need to deal with inequality, Save the Children says stronger accountability mechanisms at local, national and global levels are needed to encourage further progress. The report says access to information and meaningful accountability are inextricably linked, and that better data, transparently available, needs to be a high global priority to support accountability.
Another blind spot in the MDGs is the massive impact of violence in all its manifestations – from family and sexual violence to war – on the lives of children and adults and on poverty reduction. The report says the new framework must pay more attention to protection from violence. But the biggest shortcoming is MDG 8, which promises a global partnership for development. The report says there has been little progress in important areas to the financial and trading systems that would benefit poor countries.
“While much development is clearly about action within developing countries, there are also crucial ways [beyond aid] in which the global community needs to contribute. Aid has increased, but in other ways richer countries have not played their part.”
Save the Children’s 10 proposed goals, to be achieved by 2030:
Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and reduce relative poverty through inclusive growth and decent work
Goal 2: Eradicate hunger, halve stunting, and ensure universal access to sustainable food, water and sanitation
Goal 3: End preventable child and maternal mortality and provide basic healthcare for all
Goal 4: Ensure children everywhere receive quality education and have good learning outcomes
Goal 5: Ensure all children live a life free from all forms of violence, are protected in conflict and thrive in a safe family environment
Goal 6: Governance will be more open, accountable and inclusive
Goal 7: Establish effective global partnerships for development
Goal 8: Build disaster-resilient societies
Goal 9: Ensure a sustainable, healthy and resilient environment for all
Goal 10: Deliver sustainable energy to all.
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