Impact: MDGs

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Linking the IRG Project to the Millennium Development Goals

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are a landmark global agreement, reached under the United Nations, that renders ending extreme poverty a global responsibility.

The official debate on what should replace the MDGs when they expire in 2015 is moving very quickly.  The immediate aim of the IRG project is to influence the MDGs replacement process by articulating and advocating for a set of politically feasible post-MDG development goals that focus on the responsibilities of affluent states and the donor community rather than only on outcomes for aid recipients.  By focusing on reforming global rules and practices that hinder development and harm poor people, we hope to position the IRGs at the centre of the ongoing international negotiations on the post-MDG framework.

The premise of the IRG project is that institutional rules and practices, unlike poverty eradication outcomes, are directly within the control of the world’s wealthiest states. This makes them especially appropriate for formulating goals with strong accountability provisions. While it is hard to establish who exactly is responsible for the success or failure of poverty eradication in a particular developing country, it is relatively easy to point to which governments have not done enough to, say, curtail illicit financial flows.

Consequently, a politically feasible way of introducing accountability and agent responsibility into the post-MDG framework would be to advocate for goals that: (1) focus on state agents rather than aid recipients, (2) have outcomes that are defined in terms of changes to the structure of institutionalized practices and rules on the global level, (3) promote those institutional reforms that would most substantially reduce human rights deficits and poverty worldwide, and (4) meet a “do no harm” requirement, that is, exclude rules and practices that would themselves contribute to the persistence or exacerbation of global poverty.

We may identify ten main areas in which the reform of global rules and practices could have a major impact on human development and poverty eradication: (1) financial transparency and integrity, (2) international resource and borrowing privileges, (3) intellectual property law, (4) participatory and inclusive decision-making, (5) international labour standards, (6) international trade, (7) environmental sustainability and climate change, (8) global migration, (9) the arms trade, and (10) debt.

For each of these areas, we will:

1. Articulate politically feasible institutional reform goals and illustrative targets to be presented through research-backed policy papers.

2. Work to build a broad coalition of academics and civil society members to support our call for new institutional reform goals.

3. Present and promote these institutional reform goals in the UN consultations on the post-MDG framework, integrating academic consensus and insight into the process.

To learn more about the debates surrounding the MDGs replacement process, watch: