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International Community Can Learn From Success Of MDGs In Designing SDGs

Noting “[t]he world’s governments [are to] meet at a special session of the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 25 to discuss how to accelerate progress on the Millennium Development Goals [MDGs], and also to agree on a timetable for a new set of Sustainable Development Goals [SDGs],” Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and special adviser to the U.N. secretary-general on the MDGS, writes in a Korea Herald opinion piece, “Setting international development goals has made a huge difference in people’s lives, particularly in the poorest places on the planet. Sub-Saharan Africa has benefited enormously from the MDGs, and we can learn from that success in designing the SDGs.” He states, “To see the MDGs’ importance for sub-Saharan Africa, one need only compare the decade before their adoption with the decade after,” noting, “In the 10 years before the MDGs, economic growth in the region was slow, the poverty rate was high (and rising), and there was an increasingly heavy disease burden, including HIV/AIDS and malaria.”

“The adoption of the MDGs focused increased attention by African governments, non-governmental organizations, U.N. agencies, international donors, foundations, and activists on the urgency of combating poverty, hunger, and disease,” Sachs continues, noting “[t]here were significant improvements in disease control,” particularly with regard to malaria and HIV. “Of course, much remains to be done to maximize progress on achieving the targets set by the MDGs,” he states, writing, “Most important, significant gains in health could be attained with adequate financial resources. Donor countries should provide ample replenishment funding later this year to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, which would ensure this vital agency’s continued success.” He provides specific recommendations for setting the SDGs and concludes, “The MDGs have helped to play [a] role in the fight against poverty. The SDGs can do the same for the complex challenge of achieving sustainable development” (9/2).