UN development targets will be missed unless urgent action is taken

16 December 2010

MPs have warned that the success of a recent UN Summit intended to boost efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) now rests on countries sticking to their promises on aid and development

A new report by the International Development Committee says that the UN needs to clearly set out each country’s responsibilities with timelines in order to get the MDGs back on track.

Progress towards the MDGs—global targets seeking to reduce poverty and promote development in poorer countries—was assessed at a summit held in New York on 20-22 September 2010. The Committee praises the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) for showing leadership at the Summit, notably by committing to double funding for women and children’s health and to prioritise these issues across its programmes.

A number of developing countries made important pledges on these issues too. But the Committee’s report says that whether or not pledges translate into action in time for the Goals’ deadline of 2015 will depend on all sides sticking to promises.

The Committee’s Chairman, the Right Honourable Malcolm Bruce MP, said:

“The number of seriously off-track goals shows that some developing countries are continuing to shirk their responsibilities to improve health and education for their citizens.

“Western donors such as the Italian Government are also backsliding on their aid promises, and this is not acceptable.
“DFID and the UN should ensure different governments’ post-Summit responsibilities are clearly identified with appropriate timelines attached. It should also help build civil society capacity and strengthen Parliaments to ensure governments are held to account.”
Meeting the goals by 2015 will also depend on the UN improving co-ordination between its agencies. Malcolm Bruce said:
“Meeting the MDGs will depend on key global organisations working at maximum capacity. The UN has been trying to address the poor co-ordination between its agencies but progress is too slow.
“We are particularly concerned that efforts towards the most off-track MDGs such as women’s and children’s health could be held back if UN agencies do not pull together effectively.”
The Committee believes that DFID should engage in planning for a new international framework to replace the MDGs after 2015. A review of the effectiveness of the MDGs should be carried out to assess whether such targets are indeed the best method for facilitating development before a new set of targets is agreed for the post-2015 framework. Any new framework will need to address issues that are under-represented in the current set of Goals, including: reaching the most vulnerable people and the very poorest; giving higher priority to climate change, biodiversity and the environment; and addressing population growth. 

Further information: Committee Membership is as follows: Malcolm Bruce MP, Chairman (Lib Dem, Gordon), Hugh Bayley MP, (Lab, City of York), Richard Burden MP, (Lab, Birmingham, Northfield), James Clappison MP, (Con, Hertsmere), Richard Harrington MP, (Con, Watford), Pauline Latham MP, (Con, Mid Derbyshire), Jeremy Lefroy MP (Con, Stafford), Michael McCann MP (Lab, East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow), Alison McGovern MP (Lab, Wirral South), Anas Sarwar MP, (Lab, Glasgow Central), Chris White MP, (Con, Warwick and Leamington). Specific Committee Information: / 020 7219 1223/ 020 7219 1221
Media Information: / 020 7219 3297 Committee Website:  
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Publications / Reports / Reference Material: Copies of all select committee reports are available from the Parliamentary Bookshop (12 Bridge St, Westminster, 020 7219 3890) or the Stationery Office (0845 7023474). Committee reports, press releases, evidence transcripts, Bills; research papers, a directory of MPs, plus Hansard (from 8am daily) and much more, can be found on

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