Ensuring the new development goals deliver for the poor

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There are five key principles to ensuring that post-MDG development meets the needs of low-income populations, argues David Satterthwaite.

Development targets due to replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) after 2015 must focus on meeting the needs of low-income populations — and there are five points to consider in setting this agenda, argues urban development policy expert David Satterthwaite.

Firstly, these targets must not simply specify what must be achieved and by when: they must also specify how targets will be reached. The MDGs have suffered from a tendency to overlook the role of local governments and the rights of the people they intend to benefit, says Satterthwaite, even though the contribution of these groups is crucial to meeting development goals.

Secondly, targets will have little impact unless they consider the financial means necessary to achieve them. With aid assistance in crisis, local partnerships can play an important role in this area.

Thirdly, progress towards meeting future goals must be measured with the right indicators. This has been one of the limitations of the MDGs, according to Satterthwaite: the poverty line, as well as targets on water and sanitation, have been set too low, so what may appear as progress towards meeting goals may not reflect real progress on the ground.

Fourthly, the meaning of sustainable development should be spelled out clearly, as it can be interpreted in different ways. 'It should always be used to highlight the two priorities emphasised by the Brundtland Commission in 1987 — meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs,' says Sattherthwaite.

Finally, he urges for climate change issues to be included in future development goals, as building resilience to the impacts of climate change requires efforts in building local capacity and partnerships between governments and people at risk.

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