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Millennium Development Goals

27 January 2005

Focus on the Sachs report. The room is crammed with ministers, business and thought leaders, civil society leaders and me…around the room, blackberry’s seem to be what binds them together, the common factor as idle thumbs tinker away as the substance of the debate picks up.

“The MDGs are not on track”, reflects the speaker, “we need to know why and get them back on track…we need to measure outcomes, like the number of mosquito nets on the ground, roads, schools, and electricity, and the relate these measures to goals”…

“I represent 1.25 billion people across 60 countries, and I know what they want, we have asked them, and they have told us”...

“we have to identify the root causes of poverty…we have to see the lack of governance as a reason for a lack of aid…now that I am in government (in Indonesia), what can I do…we accept the MGs, but it is hard to implement…we do see that where the Ministry of Finance is on board, then this makes a lot of difference…’MDGs, what are they…’ say many ministries, they just do not know”…

“you know, we as finance ministers tend to think about bankers…when Clinton said, focus on the solutions, not the problems, he was exactly right…we understand what needs to be done, we have run out of excuses…we lack ‘political will’, we do not count the cost of war, every smart bomb dropped we could instead have saved lives…but we do not count it that way…2004 was the worst year to date in pursing the MDGs, on some indicators we are up to 150 years beyond the curve…this is a disaster, the intervention has to be how decisions are taken, alongside more money, we have to reach the 0.7 % target now, not in 2015…issues of governance are key, and the African Peer approach offers a way to look at this…we have to get heads of state of wealthy countries to engage...to achieve the MDGs we have to move pass them, health is not about health, but about the problems of transport, lack of access to agricultural inputs and other things.”

“the report is about economic development…it emphasises infrastructure… it is about what it takes…”

“I look after the state in India the side of France with the same number of people…there is a massive gap between citizens and those who govern, and we have to close this gap…this year we approached planning in a different way, using methods to fight drought in particular…we give a lot of money away, but people do not always benefit from it…this year, we are bringing NGOs in to work between us and the people…people cannot afford to pay for water, we have to be realistic, there is no point in sitting around here and saying they must for some reason…we have to recognise who has the right first…it is people, not animals, not birds…people are willing to pay for loans, if we give them on time.”

People here care, let no one’s cynicism or ignorance lead them to think otherwise…but the conversation shows us how circular are the debates, how enthused people are to make change, but how despairing are the views of the change pathways….curiously, the diversity at the table does not generate innovation, no matter how good are the facilitators…curious, that we have here the powerful, and yet they struggle to mould coalitions of influence.

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