In 2000, world leaders agreed by 2015 goals for slashing poverty, hunger, disease, maternal and child deaths, and for improving the environment, education and gender equality.
In the last few years progress towards the MDGs has been set back by complex global crisis – economic, financial, environmental, and agricultural which have put the development agenda on the back burner with the result that many more people are living in extreme poverty and are vulnerable to hunger and diseases. It has led to a serious setback and shortfall in the funding for the completion of the MDGs.
In his talk, Sir Richard Jolly will argue that notwithstanding these setbacks, trend is not destiny. Positive experiences in some countries provide examples of what can be done in others – to reduce poverty and to increase the incomes and production of small farmers and small producers, as well as to expand education, health and social protection in line with the MDGs. This however will require a shift in strategy, away from Washington-led orthodoxy focused on increasing rates of economic growth and more to national strategies which change the structure of growth by providing incentives and opportunities for local production, especially of middle income and poorer producers. Other sacred cows must be questioned, especially rising military budgets instead of actions directed to reducing the human insecurities of people. Measures to diminish inequalities, once a mainstream concern in development, must be rediscovered, although in ways adapted to today’s context and challenges.
Urgent collective action must be taken to regain lost ground and quicken the pace of progress. It should be backed by equitable international organisations, with the UN at the forefront. Sir Richard will state that the grave threats posed by global challenges should be a constant reminder to us of how central the role of the international community has become in an increasingly interdependent world to wipe out poverty and hunger. The new British government could give a positive lead internationally, if it incorporated these ideas into its new thinking and policies for aid and development. Erskine Childers himself made some bold suggestions for UN reform which also should be revived and made part of UK government international policy.
Lord Frank Judd, Former Minister for International Development and Vijay Mehta, Chair – Uniting for Peace will be responding to the Inequality and Millennium Development Goals address.
The lecture will be chaired by Rita Payne, former Asia Editor of BBC World TV and chair of the Commonwealth Journalists Association.