Today I woke up and one of my first thoughts were the MDGs (Millennium Development Goals) that we should have achieved by the end of this year. Eight goals that had the potential to improve the lives of Millions of people in the world and to make this world a better place to live. It is now clear that the goals will not be reached by the end of this year on a global scale. Certainly, there have been large improvements and success in some countries, but, unfortunately, we can’t say that today for all goals and for all countries.

Millennium Development Goals

Why could the MDGs not be achieved overall? Was the time-span too small, the goals too ambitious, the money made available too little, the political will lacking or implementation poor?

It will be interesting to analyse the achievements of countries with a similar development status in 2000, context and similar amounts of money available and to find out why some are doing better now than others. Are the success factors more endogenous or exogenous? What comes next? Since a couple of years already scholars, practicioners and politicians discuss about post-2015 strategies.

I am convinced that goal setting is a fundamental step necessary prior to action. Where do we want to go? Which means do we have available to go there, how much time? But we know from many failures in development practice that all those who should reach the goals need to be involved in the agreement on them. In fact, one critique of the MDGs is this lack of involvement and also that the goals did not respect the local context and needs. Maybe every country should develop its own post-MDG agenda and context-specific “roadmap” linked to PRSPs. 15 years are quite short in order to achieve structural transformation in the many aspects covered by the original eight goals. Sometimes we forget how much time Western countries needed to be where they are now.

I wish all those involved in the development of policies and goals, in the implementation of development measures that they learn a lot from the past 15 years so that they can create a new vision for their countries. Political commitment, democracy, equality, respect of human rights and good governance are certainly some of the necessary preconditions to do better.

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