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Opinion Pieces Address Post-2015 Development Agenda

The U.N. High-Level Panel on Post-2015 Development is set to meet this week to advise on the global development framework beyond 2015, the target date for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The following opinion pieces discuss issues surrounding global development.

  • Paul Polman, The Guardian: “I believe that the post-2015 agenda should be built on the big social targets like hunger, water, health and education, which were set out in the original [MDGs],” Polman, CEO of the multinational food and detergent company Unilever, writes, adding, “With some 1,000 days left to make a difference, we should of course do everything in our power to ensure that as many of these goals are met by the original deadline of 2015.” However, “the post-2015 agenda needs to be different from its predecessor” in four ways, he continues. “First, it should recognize the best way of bringing people out of poverty is through economic development”; “Second, the post-2015 agenda must ensure that the gains made on poverty eradication are irreversible”; “Third, the post-2015 development agenda should recognize that eradicating poverty is difficult to achieve in the absence of functioning institutions”; “Last, the post-2015 agenda should consciously tackle the question of inequality,” he writes, expanding on each point. He adds, “Never has there been so much energy for tackling these challenges from members of all sectors or so much clarity about what needs to be done” (5/13).
  • Naila Kabeer and Jessica Woodroffe, The Guardian: “The lack of focus on inequality was a key limitation of the MDGs and, rightly, this has become a major priority for the post-2015 agenda,” Kabeer, a professor of development studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, and Woodroffe, director of the Gender and Development Network, write. “Any new framework that fails to include gender as a distinct goal would significantly backtrack on previous commitments, sending a clear and dangerous signal that the issue is no longer a political priority,” they write. “The goal should: reflect the priorities of marginalized women and girls; address the structural causes of gender inequality; be accepted and acted upon by national governments and the international community; and address issues that cannot, or should not, be placed under other goals,” they state, adding, “The MDGs taught us that, without addressing the underlying structural causes of gender inequality, progress is likely to be uneven and prone to reversals” (5/14).