Thursday, July 12, 2007

Anniversaries: Halfway to 2015

I read today that July 7th 2007 was the official halfway point in our long journey towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals - or MDG's as they are affectionately known. Back in 2000 the UN convened governments of the world and managed to reach agreement that we would commit ourselves to an agressive agenda to rid the world of its worst development problems by 2015.

The goals include:
- Halve the number of people living on less than a dollar per day
- Ensure ALL children complete primary school, and educate boys and girls equally
- Significantly reduce child mortality rates, and maternal mortality rates
- Halt the spread of deadly diseases like HIV
- Havlve the number of people who do not have access to water and sanitation
- Increase aid and improve governance

By most accounts these goals won't be met by 2015 - at least if we continue along the rate we are going today. Enormous strides have been made on some of these issues in specific countries, but on the whole it is an uphill struggle. One school of thought that has been surfacing lately is that governments cannot possibly do all of this alone. The private sector has a role to play - but what?

Economic value-added is the main contribution a company can make - provide jobs directly or via the supply chain, pay taxes, and invest in infrastructure. Many companies that operate in emerging markets are actively playing a role here and are conscious of the MDGs and their role as a key partner. But what about maternal mortality and childhood education? Most companies do not see themselves as having a responsibility to provide social services or infrastructure that typically falls into the domain of governments.

Will we remain in this stalemate, or is there a future where the public and private agendas could be more closely linked?

No comments: