Jeffrey Sachs new ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ are to replace the ‘Millennium Development Goals’.
To date linear approaches to international development seemingly have been slow going to produce desired results. At this point we are facing such a multitude of problems due to globalization and explosive human population that we require a more complex multi-systematic approach. Jeffrey Sach’s Sustainable Development Goals are meant to be an improvement on the previous approach taking into consideration misunderstandings about the complexities of the dynamic global system. The Sustainable development Goals focus on nonlinear dynamics and the relationship between the major complex systems; economic, social, natural environment, political and their emergent and unpredictable properties that occur as a result of complex interactions.
His approach has depth in that it is just as much about management and application to the real world as it is about that data and science supporting it. It is an analytical approach and one that takes a holistic view of society. It is also an ethical or normative approach that identifies goals for society.
Criticism of the Sustainable Development Goals:
Experts in international development remain divided when considering Sach’s new and improved Sustainable Development Goals. Although the UN has put a positive spin on the MDG’s the outcomes have not been as optimistic as expected. In 2013 the economist Howard Friedman revealed that for the majority of MDG’s there was no global acceleration towards goals after the year 2000. The poorest people and those living in fragile, conflict-torn states — benefited the least. Also it will take at least another decade before child mortality will fall to a target of two-thirds. Another major criticism is the fact that China was the single greatest driver of declining poverty worldwide which means that the economic impact of the MDG’s was little to nothing, although UN reports tend not to mention that factor. Many organizations including the International Counsil for Science agree that less than a third of the MDG’s were well developed.
Jeffrey Sach’s a long time supporter of the MDG’s concedes that the newly formed Sustainable Development Goals will be difficult to implement: “The SDGs are a very broad and complex agenda. Whether it can work out is an open question. But there is now an amazing amount of discussion. There is a sense that this is a sensible framework. I’m not saying a new dawn has broken, but at least governments are saying we need to try.”
If you would like to learn more about Sustainable Development you can take his Course Era class on sustainable development online out of Columbia University completely for free. I am taking it now, it’s very well constructed and informative.
For a sample view watch the class intro below
The primary argument is that his approach is idealistic in that it requires all UN member states to agree (UNITE) on the 17 primary goals moving forward. Although idealistic, we are living in a critical time that will require ‘unrealistic’ goals and actions if we are to survive. We all know that something needs to be done, this framework can be a guide, but lets be careful not to make the same mistakes that were made with the Millennium Development Goals. I will be doing my best to support and aid in the completion of the Sustainable Development Goals.
For more information on Jeffrey Sachs and his Sustainable Development Goals check out his blog.