Development Agenda after 2015

Finishing the Job we have Started

9 May 2013

Andris Piebalgs, EU Commissioner for Development

Imagine a world where global poverty is at a record low; growth in Africa—at a record high; EU development aid—unprecedentedly generous. Now open your eyes: this is the world we live in. However, this world also suffers increasingly from extreme weather conditions causing more and more severe natural disasters; millions of children go hungry every day and social inequality divides societies. The world is more complex than ever and we need to focus on the crucial issues which will create a better future for all of us. But there is one common thread that can guide us through the maze of future challenges—the post-Millennium Development Goals’ (MDGs) agenda and the agenda beyond 2015.

The set of MDGs have been driving the international community to focus attention on the world’s poorest since 2000. Some of the goals have been achieved, also thanks to the EU—the biggest donor of development aid in the world. Just some examples: the MDG to halve the proportion of people living in extreme poverty was met in 2010; the number of children who are out-of-school has fallen to about 60 million, from 108 million in 1990; more children are living to their fifth birthday than ever before and millions of mothers more survive giving births to their children. Despite all these good news, not all MDGs will be achieved on time and progress is uneven among countries and even within countries.

What should be the future like?

This year we are debating what the post-2015 development agenda should look like. But it is clear to me that we have to finish the job we have started; we have to both achieve the MDGs and go further and end poverty while ensuring a sustainable development. This is not only our moral obligation, but it is in everybody’s interest and that is the message I shared with leaders within the UN panel that will advise UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on the post-2015 agenda. It is also the message behind the new policy document that I recently presented, entitled ‘A “decent life for all”: ending poverty and giving the world a sustainable future’.

Fighting poverty should remain at the core of a global development agenda. We need to update and modernise the current MDGs in order to provide a Decent Life for All by 2030. We should fix a set of minimum floors below which no one should fall, regardless whether one lives in a developing or developed country. But this will not happen if we continue to live unsustainably. We all know that climate change, land degradation, unsustainable consumption and production, all threaten to destroy any gains made in the fight against poverty. Global action to make the world more sustainable has to go hand-in-hand with the fight against poverty.

These new initiatives should be defined through clear goals to which every citizen from Finland to Nigeria can personally relate to. Only then they could provide a framework that would enable a Decent Life for All by 2030.

I am aware there are no quick fixes in development. But, world leaders should rise to the challenge and overcome the unacceptable scourges of the 21st century such as hunger and poverty. Because tackling their cause, rather than their symptoms, it is not only more effective but also cheaper. The EU will be on the front line in this fight and I trust that others will join us.

WIDERAngle newsletter
May 2013
ISSN 1238-9544