12 January 2013

Sudan: Ending Poverty in Our Generation


Save the Children's vision for a post-2015 framework

A historic achievement is within reach. We can be the generation that ends poverty, forever. For the first time, it is feasible to imagine that in the next couple of decades no child will die from preventable causes, every child will go to school, every child will have protection from violence and we will eradicate absolute poverty.

The Millennium Development Goals, one of the most resonant and unifying agreements in political history, reach a turning point in 2015, the deadline for their realisation. We must do everything in our power to achieve them, but also find an agreed way forward on work that will remain to be accomplished. This report sets out Save the Children's vision for a new development framework to this end, supporting the creation of a world in which all people everywhere realise their human rights within a generation.

As a leading independent organisation for children, Save the Children is focused on ensuring that the post-2015 framework clearly accounts for the needs and rights of all children. We continue to advocate and campaign for the realisation of children's rights, working at the global and national levels. The MDGs have provided a key framework to direct political and financial commitments as well as technical breakthroughs for children.

Save the Children's suggested post-2015 development framework champions universal and equitable development, with human rights as its guiding principle and evidence as a foundation for its approaches. Human rights principles such as universality, equality and inalienability must underpin everything that is agreed. And, unlike with the MDGs, these principles must be visible in the targets established. Now is the time to aim at no less than:

• a zero target for absolute poverty reduction

• a zero target for hunger

• a zero target for preventable child and maternal deaths

• a zero target for those without safe drinking water

and sanitation.

The MDGs have been successful. Who would have thought at the end of the Cold War, that through global cooperation we would have lifted 600 million people out of poverty? Or that we would have helped 56 million more children go to school? Or that an extra 14,000 children would escape death every single day? We have come a very long way - but there is also far to go. This means stepping back and looking at what we've learnt, so we can do even better over the next period. We should build on the strengths of the MDGs: the new framework should remain firmly focused on human development, it should highlight areas where an international agreement can make a difference, and it should retain a limited number of measureable goals. But to finish the job that was started - to fulfil a promise to eradicate poverty - we need to address some of the challenges we can now perceive from the MDG period.

Above all, the MDGs do not consistently confront inequality, whether it is because of age, gender, caste, disability, geography or income. Our recent report; Born Equal revealed, shockingly, that in 32 developing countries, a child in the richest 10% of households has as much as 35 times the effective available income of a child in the poorest 10% of households. The MDG fraction-target approach has encouraged many countries to focus on those who are easiest to reach, with the result that people closest to coming out of poverty have sometimes benefited disproportionately from improved access to such services, and the gap between this group and the very poorest people has inadvertently been widened - at the same time as the gap between the richest group in society and the poorest has also been yawning ever wider. If now we fail to focus attention on the poorest, the most marginalised, the most vulnerable - and at the same time fail to challenge the scale of the gaps between the most and least favoured groups - the new framework will have only limited impact.

Second, accountability is crucial to global development. A promise is only meaningful if it is kept and if its makers can be held to it. But a robust, effective accountability mechanism has been missing from the MDG framework, making it difficult to ensure the fulfilment (or otherwise) of commitments in a transparent way. This in turn has meant that progress is inconsistent. Those countries with political will put resources in place to ensure implementation, but those which do not are not adequately held to account. We need much better accountability mechanisms, and we also need to invest in the data to inform them.

Next, we need attention to synergies and systems. Many development issues are inextricably linked. A hungry child won't learn much in school, and she won't stay there long enough to benefit, if she has to work to pay for her sick father's healthcare, or if she experiences violence. The structure of the MDGs may have exacerbated the tendency to create silos and inefficiencies in hard-pressed developing countries by tackling areas of human development one facet at a time. A degree of singular focus may sometimes have been necessary to deliver immediate results.

Finishing the job, however, will require a holistic approach that strengthens systems to improve human development outcomes.

Fourth, the MDGs have necessarily placed a strong emphasis on extending the breadth of coverage of a service and reaching more people. The low levels of coverage of a couple of decades ago made this a sensible approach. However, it has masked other emerging issues. Widespread access to a service does not mean that the aims of that service are being realised if we are only looking at inputs and not outcomes. This problem is perhaps most clearly manifested in education. The MDGs measured the numbers of children enrolled in primary school.Success in getting children into school, however, sometimes masks failure to learn once they get there.

And finally, since 2000 little has been achieved in improving the long-term sustainability of the natural resource base, despite the fact that human health and prosperity is dependent upon it. Much more is now known about environmental sustainability than at the turn of the millennium. The MDGs did not address sustainability in a serious way, but it must underpin the new development consensus.

These challenges can be tackled, and should be integrated across all the goals in the new framework. There are also important principles governing the choice of goals themselves. The next development framework must retain a clear and unambiguous focus on poverty reduction, speeding up action to improve the quality of life of the world's poorest and most marginalised people. Save the Children believes goals on poverty, hunger, health, education, protection from violence and governance will be paramount, supported by goals which foster a supportive and sustainable environment for human development.

They are common goals for all countries, but the specific issues within these common goals apply differently to countries at different stages of development - so we propose common but differentiated responsibility for the realisation of the goals, in which each country decides how best to achieve them. ending poverty in our generation.

We propose the following six goals for the new framework, to put in place the foundations for human development:

Goal 1: By 2030 we will eradicate extreme poverty and reduce relative poverty through inclusive growth and decent work

Goal 2: By 2030 we will eradicate hunger, halve stunting, and ensure universal access to sustainable food, water and sanitation

Goal 3: By 2030 we will end preventable child and maternal mortality and provide basic healthcare for all

Goal 4: By 2030 we will ensure children everywhere receive quality education and have good learning outcomes

Goal 5: By 2030 we will ensure all children live a life free from all forms of violence, are protected in conflict and thrive in a safe family environment

Goal 6: By 2030 governance will be more open, accountable and inclusive to provide a supportive environment for these goals we propose four more:

Goal 7: By 2030 we will establish effective global partnerships for development

Goal 8: By 2030 we will build disaster-resilient societies

Goal 9: By 2030 we will ensure a sustainable, healthy and resilient environment for all

Goal 10: By 2030 we will deliver sustainable energy to all

The ten development goals need to be embedded in global systems that will expedite all these processes. We propose three accompanying mechanisms to provide this kind of support: national financing strategies; a robust international accountability mechanism; and a data investment fund. Of course, the debate on the MDG successor framework is at an early stage, and these proposals are offered as a contribution to a participative global conversation, not as a final word. We look forward to engaging with others in refining our thinking and developing an agreed approach.

As 2015 approaches, we should feel a profound sense of obligation as well as opportunity. In the year 2000, the international community committed to dramatic change. We made the world's biggest promise to its poorest people that we would tackle absolute poverty, child mortality, hunger - and that promise is only partially fulfilled. We need to renew and extend the promise. For the first time in human history it is conceivable that we could end preventable child deaths, eradicate hunger and rid the world for good of the scandal of absolute poverty. But to do so will take more than business as usual; it will require a resolute focus not on the easy to reach, but on the hardest to help. It will also require a focus on some of the most pervasive and intractable development challenges. If we are willing to take up the challenge, then we can be the generation to end these age-old injustices for good.

Ending poverty in our generation

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