Speeches | 28 June 2010

Advancing Innovative Development and Aid Strategies in the Asia-Pacific: Accelerating the Millennium Development Goals

Progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in the Asia-Pacific region is mixed. Asia is generally progressing well while the Pacific is lagging behind, and in several cases countries are in fact regressing. Since the signing of the Millennium Declaration in 2000 there has been a lot of talk – many international commitments made – but achievements on the ground have been slow. Danielle Cave

  • Danielle Cave

Progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in the Asia-Pacific region is mixed. Asia is generally progressing well while the Pacific is lagging behind, and in several cases countries are in fact regressing. Since the signing of the Millennium Declaration in 2000 there has been a lot of talk – many international commitments made – but achievements on the ground have been slow. Danielle Cave

  • Danielle Cave
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Key Findings

  • ‘A new development paradigm is urgently needed, one which embraces and includes a broader partnership base recognising the growing role of the private sector and philanthropy.’
  • The MDGs is an important framework to measure progress towards poverty reduction but it is missing factors such as inequity, empowerment, human security and economic development.
  • An over-reliance on economic growth to progress the MDGs in Asia is dangerous as equality is also critical.
  • Donors need to be mindful that MDGs are for people and not for countries.

Executive Summary

A key impediment to MDG progress has been social attitudes. Achievements in the case of India include 25 million more children going to school. But at the same time child malnourishment has not changed. There is a need to change social mores and attitudes to the way people live their lives. For example, it is important to raise awareness that open defecation contaminates water sources, which in turn affects children’s health. As a group, the Pacific Island Countries (PIC) have been unsuccessful, regressing or making no progress on the MDGs, and advancing only slowly for infant and under-five mortality. A great deal of work around aid effectiveness and coordination is underway in the Pacific. Recognising the Pacific’s poor performance on the MDGs, donors and developing country partners signed the Cairns Compact at the Pacific Island Forum Leaders meeting in 2009. Since the late 1990s there has been an explosion of civil society organizations in the Pacific, and yet civil society remains marginalised by donors and Pacific governments in progressing the MDGs. Donors and developing country partners use external consultants and not civil society to progress the MDGs. There is a need for a new partnership with civil society which uses their unique skills and relationships with communities. Ultimately development is the responsibility of partner governments, and national stakeholders are best placed to determine their own development priorities and strategies. It is the role of donors to support plans and systems of country partners.