Will the Sustainable Development Goals make a difference on the ground? Lessons from a 5 country case study on the MDGs

Duncan Green - December 17, 2015

I’ve long been baffled/appalled by the lack of decent research on the impact of the MDGs at national level. Sure there’s lots of data gathering, and reports on how fast access to education or health is improving or poverty is falling, but that’s definitely not the same thing as finding out whether/how the MDGs in particular are responsible for the changes (rather than, say, economic …

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How will the SDGs differ from the MDGs?

Duncan Green - October 21, 2015

This piece, written with my Oxfam colleague Takumo Yamada, went up on the International Growth Centre blog earlier this week Will the SDGs be bigger, better and more universal than their predecessor, or a bafflingly complex mishmash of issues that fail to generate traction on decision making? They could go either way. Now that the list is finalised, most of the SDG circus will declare …

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Hello SDGs, what’s your theory of change?

Duncan Green - September 29, 2015

As Jed Bartlett would say, what’s next? Now the SDGs are official, there will be big discussions on financing and a geekfest on metrics and indicators. Both are important. But to my mind the big task is to collectively think through what the SDGs are meant to change and how they can best do so – in other words a theory(ies) of change. Here are …

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Some cautionary thoughts on this week’s SDGs summit

Duncan Green - September 22, 2015

The crescendo of discussion and debate over the successor to the Millennium Development Goals reaches its climax this weekend in New York, with the Sustainable Development Summit. The Guardian has a good scene setter. I’ve ploughed a contrarian furrow on the SDGs so far, so why stop now? Here are some things you might want to keep in mind over the next few days, with …

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Have the MDGs affected developing country policies and spending? Findings of new 50 country study.

Duncan Green - July 24, 2015

One of the many baffling aspects of the post-2015/Sustainable Development Goal process is how little research there has been on the impact of their predecessor, the Millennium Development Goals. That may sound odd, given how often we hear ‘the MDGs are on/off track’ on poverty, health, education etc, but saying ‘the MDG for poverty reduction has been achieved five years ahead of schedule’ is not …

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The SDGs are just getting interesting – what needs to happen next to make them have impact?

Duncan Green - June 23, 2015

I spent a day in Madrid last week talking to Spanish aid wonks (it was cold and wet, in case you’re feeling jealous). One of the main topics of conversation was the post 2015 process, and it convinced me that I need to move on a bit from my previous rejection of the whole process as a waste of breath. We are where we are …

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Why 17 goals and 169 targets are not enough – your chance to vote

Duncan Green - June 4, 2015

Time for a little (non-Oxfam) contrarianism, and a new poll (see right). In September, the UN will agree the new framework for global development for the 15 years to 2030. This week the 43 page ‘zero draft of the outcome document‘ was published and the interwebs will rapidly fill with aid wonks and politicians scoffing at the ‘christmas tree’ of goals and targets  (17 of the former, breaking …

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If you read one paper on the post-2015 process, make it this one

Duncan Green - December 4, 2014

The SDGs/post 2015 debate just got interesting. Regular readers of this blog will know that up to now I have been a convinced sceptic on the post-2015 circus (see this 2012 paper on why). But now the endless attempt to hang more/fewer development baubles on the SDG Christmas Tree is coming to an end, and we are coming to the moment of truth – how to …

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The Power of Numbers: Why the MDGs were flawed (and post2015 goals look set to go the same way)

Duncan Green - August 14, 2014

I’ve just been reading the findings of a research programme that concludes that the whole MDGs exercise has been plagued by negative (if unintended) consequences, and that these are a result of the whole process of setting goals and targets (so the post2015/SDG process is likely to go the same way). Have I got your attention? Given how much interest (and air miles) are being …

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Will these Sustainable Development Goals get us into the doughnut (aka a safe and just space for humanity)? Guest post from Kate Raworth

Duncan Green - August 11, 2014

Kate Raworth left Oxfam’s research team last year to devote herself to some really pioneering thinking on how to combine environmental and social concerns in a new approach she calls ‘doughnut economics‘ (book due in 2016 – it could be a biggie). Here she casts her doughnutty gaze over the UN’s recently drafted Sustainable Development Goals In mid July, the UN’s Open Working Group proposed …

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