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The MDGs and Beyond

Mahmoud Mohieldin's picture

I feel privileged to be appointed as the World Bank Group President’s Special Envoy for the MDGs.  Nothing could be more important for achieving growth and shared prosperity than the MDGs, which are meant to provide people with the very basic capabilities they need to thrive – freedom from extreme poverty, education, health, clean water and sanitation.  Nations can only succeed when people thrive.

In my new position, with regard to the MDGs I will focus on four objectives. The first is to ensure that we are doing all we can to get as close to achieving the MDGs as possible by the 2015 deadline.  Progress on many targets is lagging, particularly in countries affected by weak governance, conflict, or large populations.  Progress is significantly lagging on some indicators, such as maternal and child health.   United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim have recently committed to a process of in-depth country-level diagnostics to identify priority actions to accelerate progress towards achieving the MDGs.  My hope is that these reviews will point not only to specific actions for governments and donors, but also serve as lessons for a broader range of countries.

My second objective is provide meaningful, coordinated input into the UN-led Post-2015 Development Agenda.   To this end, the World Bank has established an internal working group, to coordinate Bank-wide activities and expertise related to the MDGs. The Post-2015 MDG Working Group’s activities include drawing lessons from the implementation of the current MDGs for design of the future development framework; integrating concepts of social, economic and environmental sustainability in support of the UN’s effort to merge the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and MDG processes; and putting the World Bank’s considerable analytical and implementation experience to work for the UN-led process.  With regard to the latter, a number of reflective notes are being produced to inform the debates on future indicators.  The Post-2015 Working Group also serves as a useful point of coordination for the Bank’s interaction with interested partners, such as Japan’s Post-MDG Contact Group, World Economic Forum, bilateral donors, NGOs, and think tanks. 

My third objective is to support countries in building and strengthening their data and statistical capacity related to monitoring progress, guiding policy, and conducting analysis on the MDGs.  World Bank-supported programs such as STATCAP and Paris21 are helping to ensure that most low-income countries have a plan for improving statistics and technical support to do so.  However, many countries have a long way to go, even to be able to measure basic poverty and collect the social data needed to guide fundamental policies and investments.  In the coming year, we will push aggressively to fulfill the Busan Action Plan for Statistics, and to increase our technical support and training to countries for statistical capacity building.  We will also examine a range of incentives for countries to improve data and statistical capacity.

Finally, supporting the MDGs will require stronger efforts on the parts of national governments to mobilize and manage domestic revenues, the private sector to support and deliver services where appropriate, and the development partners to fill gaps.  There is considerable scope for innovation in financing instruments that would strengthen partnerships and leverage resources among these three actors.  I look forward to working across the World Bank Group and with other multilateral financial institutions to identify opportunities for more sustained financing of the MDGs and the post-2015 agenda.

The Global Monitoring Report series, produced jointly by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), is an excellent tool for monitoring the MDGs, as the annual reports offer in-depth analysis of issues that affect the achievement of the goals.  The Reports provide us rich and valuable insights into what has worked, and where we need focus more. This year’s report will be particularly relevant, focusing as it does on rural-urban dynamics and how they affect the MDGs.

With the MDGs deadline just around the corner, the promise of 2015, unfortunately, remains unfulfilled for millions of people whose lives are blighted by extreme poverty, ill-health, and poor education.  I would like to challenge you to bridge the remaining gap, exploiting every opportunity you have to accelerate progress on the MDGs.  I would also like to invite you to be active in the post-2015 Development Framework – building a world that is in tune with the needs of both “people and planet.”