Health and the post-2015 development agenda: Stuck in the doldrums?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

I think it’s fair to say most of us don’t typically take UN reports with us on our summer vacation. But you might want make an exception in the case of the high-level panel (HLP)report on the post-2015 development agenda. It offers a nice opportunity to reflect how – over the last 15 years or so – we have seen some serious global shifts in values, expectations and motivations.

The HLP feels the MDGs were worthwhile: “the MDGs set out an inspirational rallying cry for the whole world”. As my colleague Varun Gauri argues, goals inspire if they are underpinned by a moral case, and the panel pushes hard on issues of rights and responsibilities, social justice, and fairness: “new goals and targets need to be grounded in respect for universal human rights”; “these are issues of basic social justice. Many people living in poverty have not had a fair chance.”

The HLP realize we’re an ambitious generation, keen to leave our mark on the world, and unafraid of being bold. So they say: “After 2015 we should move from reducing to ending extreme poverty, in all its forms. … We can be the first generation in human history to end hunger and ensure that every person achieves a basic standard of wellbeing. There can be no excuses.”

The panel picks up on our growing commitment to universalism. It urges us to “leave no one behind” and “bring about more social inclusion”. The panelists say we need to do better on this than last time: “We should ensure that no person – regardless of ethnicity, gender, geography, disability, race or other status – is denied universal human rights and basic economic opportunities. We should design goals that focus on reaching excluded groups, for example by making sure we track progress at all levels of income.”

Source: World Bank (link opens in a new window)

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