Development Initiatives (DI) welcomes the appointment of David Cameron to chair the new UN Panel on the post-2015 UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). At this critical point in the process, this is a real opportunity to ensure that wider engagement is sought in the discussions to end absolute poverty by 2025 and ensure that transparency and access to information for the poorest is firmly on the post-2015 agenda.
The appointment is a clear recognition of the UK’s political leadership in tackling poverty reduction and development. The decision by the Coalition government to stick to the commitment made under Gordon Brown to reach the UN 0.7% GNI aid target by 2013 has taken real courage at a time of spending reductions.
Global poverty rates have fallen substantially from 46% to 27% over 1990-2005 and are projected to fall below 15% by 2015. The number of people living under $1.25 a day is expected to fall below 900 million by 2015, down from the 1.8 billion in 1990, so the MDG target of halving the proportion of people in poverty is well within reach.
But the story doesn’t end in 2015 – large numbers of poor and chronically poor people are yet to benefit from the MDG effort. Progress in regions such as sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia will not be sufficient to reach 2015 targets, which are often hampered by disparities in income, gender and location.
Reports suggest that the Prime Minister (PM) will want to strengthen the post-2015 MDG focus on economic development and the role of the private sector. DI welcomes a greater effort to engage the private sector in reaching the poorest with jobs, goods and the services they need. Cameron should reinforce the message that you do not have to be an aid agency or to be spending aid money to make a contribution to poverty elimination. We need to harness a wider range of resource flows to eliminate poverty and this means looking to the comparative advantage of each potential resource to ensure that the poor get value for money for each and every dollar spent on poverty reduction.
In order to better understand the comparative advantage of different resources for poverty reduction we need better information on how and where exactly these resources are being spent, and with what outcomes. The old adage that information is power has never been more obvious. Today we see the internet and mobile phones helping the poorest people to begin holding government to account, express their desire for freedom, provide feedback in crisis and transfer small amounts of money securely.
At DI we believe transparency must be high on the PM’s agenda for the new MDGs, because transparency can underpin improved resource allocation and use – and can empower people at all levels. Building on the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), we need better information on all resource flows for poverty reduction. Cameron should advocate for geocoded, transaction level data in real time. Nobody would try to run a business without detailed, up-to-date financial data – the same needs to apply for poverty elimination. We believe that access to information at all levels (including, crucially, resource information) should be seen as a core component of the post-2015 MDG settlement.
The existing MDGs agreed in New York in 2000 aimed to halve the proportion of people living in absolute poverty by 2015. The post-2015 settlement should set the bold aim, to an ambitious yet realistic timescale, of eliminating absolute dollar-a-day poverty within a generation. Here at DI we believe this can be achieved by 2025 and look forward to working with Mr Cameron to establish practical steps towards this ambitious goal.
Shelter Afrique Building
4th Floor, Mamlaka Road
PO Box 102802-00101
Development Research and Training (DRT)
Ggaba Road, Mutesasira Zone, Kansanga
P.O Box 22459