Council on Foreign Relations: Evaluating Progress on the UN Millenium Goals

October 14, 2010
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Last Monday, The Council on Foreign Relations hosted a panel of experts to discuss the Progress of the UN Millenium Development Goals (MDGs). Panelists included Mr. Robert C. Orr, Assistant Secretary General for Policy Planning at the United Nations, Mr. Samuel A. Worthington, President & CEO of InterAction, and Mr. T. Charles Cooper, Vice President for Congressional and Public Affairs at Millenium Challenge Corporation. The panel was moderated by Gail D. Fosler, President of GailFosler Group LLC.

Last Monday, The Council on Foreign Relations hosted a panel of experts to discuss the Progress of the UN Millenium Development Goals (MDGs). Panelists included Mr. Robert C. Orr, Assistant Secretary General for Policy Planning at the United Nations, Mr. Samuel A. Worthington, President & CEO of InterAction, and Mr. T. Charles Cooper, Vice President for Congressional and Public Affairs at Millenium Challenge Corporation. The panel was moderated by Gail D. Fosler, President of GailFosler Group LLC.
The attitude towards the progress on the UN MDGs was quite optimistic. Mr. Orr emphasized that the MDGs have served as an incredible mobilization tool as Governments, NGOs and international foundations organize their initiatives around achieving one or several of the MDGs. Mr. Cooper reaffirmed the power of the MDGs as a mobilization tool by citing the comprehensive U.S. Government policy that is focused around the MDGS. Similarly, Mr. Worthington recognized that development enterprise is mutli-sectorial and lauded the MDGs as a tool which makes it easier for development enterprise to think about the challenges ahead.

The panel agreed on the point that while a tremendous amount of progress has been made in achieving the MDGs, the progress, thus far, has been uneven. The example that was highlighted both at the UN Summit as well as the by the panel, is MDG 5 which sets out to improve maternal health. Many audience members were curious as to how to effectively tackle the issue of maternal health as well as to continue to make strides towards achieving the remaining seven MDGs. One of the greatest challenges that was cited is the ability to create a model that is both effective and adaptable for new geographies and cultures.Mr. Orr offered BRAC as an example of an international organization that has succeeded in creating an exportable and dynamic model. The panel emphasized the creation of partnerships and on the ground coordination as integral components in achieving the MDGs. In addition, the panel emphasized the importance of impact evaluation in creating and modifying models that are implemented on the ground.

The concluding questions from the audience and remarks from the panel focused on what lies beyond the MDGs. The panel agreed that although we will most likely fall short of achieving the MDGs, the progress that is made in the next five years will provide a framework as to how to move forward beyond 2015. In the context of development, 2015 is the short-term goal which is why it is necessary to build a system of sustainability that will last beyond.
To watch a video of the event, please click here.
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