The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are a landmark global agreement, reached under the United Nations, on reducing poverty and related deprivations. While the MDGs have been applauded for focusing the world’s attention on poverty and poor people, and for framing poverty reduction as a human rights issue for which the whole world bears responsibility, they have also been the target of sharp criticism.
Perhaps the most damaging criticism is that although the MDGs are meant to be a global agenda for all countries and all people, in practice, they have reflected the priorities of the world’s most affluent and influential agents. It is said, for example, that the MDGs have little connection with ground realities and policy priorities in the countries of the Global South, and that they disproportionately burden the poorest countries of the world while demanding very little of rich countries, international organizations, multinational corporations, and wealthy individuals.
The official debate on what will replace the MDGs when they expire in 2015 is moving very quickly. The MDG successor goals, to be called Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), will take shape over the next year through a process of inter-governmental negotiations, with the expectation that they will be adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 2015 as part of a broader post-2015 agenda.
There is, therefore, only a narrow window of opportunity to firmly demand from our world leaders that the SDGs be made free of the various errors of omission and commission that have plagued the MDGs. Civil society groups, academics and activists worldwide, but particularly in the Global South, must pressure their governments to ensure that the post-2015 framework is made genuinely responsive to the needs and priorities of poor people living in developing countries, and that developed countries and other powerful agents are pushed to meet well-specified responsibilities. CDHR seeks to contribute to this important endeavour by:
1. Identifying the needs and priorities of poor people living in India on issues that have been identified as priority areas in post-2015 deliberations, such as ensuring healthy lives, inclusive and equitable quality education, decent jobs, gender equality, inclusive and sustainable cities, and so on. Such voices of people living in poverty, recorded through interviews, case studies, and photo essays, will be published periodically on our website in the form of Bulletin articles, to be developed further into CDHR media and policy briefs.
2. Creating an online resource platform – containing academic papers, policy briefs and reports, and audio-visual materials – that can be easily accessed and used by civil society organizations (CSOs), in India and beyond, that are seeking to make the SDGs more Global South-centric, people-centric, and human rights-centric. These materials will be available through the ‘Post-2015 Resources’ tab of the R&D Portal.
3. Creating awareness about specific issues by creating petitions and other focused campaigns, collaborating with other CSOs.