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2017
Asia Needs more Dialogue
Solutions to urban pollution may prove complex
Spread of ESGs could herald new global movement
Investing in quality education is imperative if India wants to reap demographic dividends
China needs to lead in new multi-stakeholder world
China’s B&R initiative leading a resurgence of Asia
Education is key - but long-term: Can we survive?
New wave of robots will be beneficial to all
China needs to continue with its ‘heavy lifting’
Time is right for Chinese firms to invest in Europe
Robots to the rescue for China?
Asian Multinationals are Going Global, But to Where?
China ratchets forward with energy efforts
China’s calm necessary for globalization push
Bridging managerial gaps involves trust-building
China well-placed to power its future through green technology advances
China's new 'springtime' is here
2016
China’s moves show it’s banking on the future
Mindset for action at the G20 summit will be determined by Chinese presidency
Chinese head-hunting intensifies for rare managers that can steer overseas firms
US talk of isolation jars with growing links in Europe and Asia
Electoral rhetoric on global trade not in sync with reality
Is it time to be prudent and consider austerity policies again?
What will we do if we have no oil?
Unlock talent by finding the right fit for a person
The benefits are real and tangible
Trade along China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ won’t succeed without the currency of trust
Reasons for optimism about the long term
2015
Can big oil go green and win?
Poorer Nations Could Sway Climate Talks
Combating Idleness and Deprivation
How China can be a model of food sustainability for the developing world
Kyoto II – Is it a Done Deal?
A meeting of the two largest economic powers
Why China will experience a 'soft' landing
Beware of superstitions
The Elephant and Dragon move ahead
G-7 target on fossil fuels raises many questions
Why Battle for Net Neutrality in the US Matters Globally
China’s resurgence – the ‘normal new’
Wanted: A managerial culture that embraces cultural differences
China's early education plan a smart investment in the future
The New Normal for China and India
2014
China's infrastructure push offers a sure track to better growth
US-China climate pact a good start, but not quite enough
Rethink the human’s place in the ‘digital revolution’
China springs a carbon surprise
Infrastructure - the invisible hand in full view
Dialogue vital for survival of Iraqi nation
China must nurture a new generation of beautiful minds
Great expectations in China and India
GM Cereals – The Pros and Corns
Time to be Honest about Our Energy Prospects
Weathering the Storm of Climate Change
Making a Big Decision? Beware of Your Biases
West Deserves Better Logistics Infrastructure
Digital Currencies do Represent the Future
From 'Printed' Houses to Wooden Skyscrapers
It’s time to bail out our schools, not our firms
Solution to India’s housing shortage – print new ones!
And the most promising green technologies of 2014 are ...
Transport infrastructure key to domestic, export growth
Oil stopgaps: Not worth risking
2013
Why the US should grant Edward Snowden amnesty
May we be more optimistic!
China headed for another massive social experiment?
A dialogue that worked
Yes, politicians deserve vacations - because we benefit
NPOs, NGOs invaluable as creators of dialogue
Look closer and ask: Is America reinventing itself?
Boston bombings case underlines need for dialogue
Millennium Development Goals or own goals?
As usual it's about balance - and timing - of course
Chinese strategists make right moves for growth
2012
Preparing for tomorrow
Austerity or growth?
Japan in danger of becoming 'just a place to fly over'
Beware of the business cycle?
An inconvenient truth
Limited offer sale: Buy a country
Where did our money go?
Leading from behind - a year of elections is almost over
Driving towards a green future
Waiting for springtime
Preserve or Perish
Startlingly similar Asia policy for Obama, Romney
Globalisation remains an irresistible trend
Google has the edge in smartphone war
U.S. Braces for China's Rise
Mankind’s General Scourge
The summer holidays are over and nothing has changed!
Put the hidden trillions to work
Making sense of India’s woes and wonders
Storm in a teacup!
Let’s give bad bankers a venue to admit their sins
News is about depth, not puff or velocity
Booming India, but too few toilets
Delayed Court decisions doesn't mean one may continue to play 'Great Game'
We need media to reflect on data and offer public a balanced view
Big polluters can lead in forging common purpose
The weighty issue of choosing a leader
EU-India Relations - Facing similar challenges
Educating with a goal
The Judicial Malaise
We are growing out, but not growing up
EU´s retrenchment enigma
Urbulence in the Eurozone and the effect on SMEs
Skolkovo May Help Russia to Diversify
Make things more effective
Tapping into the Commonwealth connection
Innovative models for public finance
Facebook revolution but Indian style
The feel-good factor
Asian investors - a private equity opportunity
India needs to be taller and stronger
China´s low sales volume...
Nations playing leapfrog
Shafts of sunlight
What webs we weave
As performers go to Davos, the circus steals the show
Can we control the politicians?
 
2011
Europe’s reminiscence
China firms should go for win-win in overseas ventures
Of procrastination...
Making sense of profiteering
Truth about financial mess must be laid bare
Small is also beautiful
China can help Europe with debt crisis
Excising the cancer of global corruption
Education, a critical asset
Arab uprisings set in motion forces of creative destruction
A new era of change
We must ensure better education for all
Beijing wary of bankrolling a lost cause
Asean's re-emergence as a local and global leader
Why India's Role in the Global Economy is Still Work in Progress
Its the leadership, stupid!
Reverse globalisation: The new buzzword
Millennium Development Goals or own goals?
By Frank-Jürgen Richter
Nikkei Weekly, April 8, 2013
 

The global fever for football (or soccer, as it may be called) is increasing as group stages unfold ahead of the FIFA World Cup in Brazil next year.

So it is, I think, a little excusable to extend the metaphor to other events - notably the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that are due to come to fruition by 2015. The target date was agreed in 2000 by the world's countries following a decade of meetings and discussions under the guidance of the United Nations.

There were eight agreed-upon goals, and they were reaffirmed under the 2010 Action Plan, "Keeping our promise."

In announcing the MDGs in 2000, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said: "Eradicating extreme poverty continues to be one of the main challenges of our time, and is a major concern of the international community. Ending this scourge will require the combined efforts of all, governments, civil society organizations and the private sector, in the context of a stronger and more effective global partnership for development."

"The Millennium Development Goals set timebound targets, by which progress in reducing income poverty, hunger, disease, lack of adequate shelter and exclusion - while promoting gender equality, health, education and environmental sustainability - can be measured. They also embody basic human rights - the rights of each person on the planet to health, education, shelter and security. The Goals are ambitious but feasible and, together with the comprehensive United Nations development agenda, set the course for the world's efforts to alleviate extreme poverty by 2015."

I will review two interconnected goals - those of MDG2 (achieve universal primary education) and MDG3 (promote gender equality and empower women). Of course all the millennium goals are interconnected - better health promotes less child mortality and more capable learning; then in adulthood we hope the young adults will achieve better global sustainability.

Returning to MDG2 we find the 2010 review noted that primary education enrollment in developing regions is now 90% - but that still leaves 61 million children missing this education, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa. Of course, the higher levels of primary education raise demand for secondary education. Sadly, 71 million youths (aged 12-15) were out of school in 2010. Yet the literacy discrepancy was narrowing: In 2010 there were 95 literate young women for every 100 young men, even though their access to secondary schooling remains limited. We have questions for MDG3 - in some regions a girl's education remains elusive, or nonexistent, with continuing discrimination in access to work and in owning economic assets. Generally poverty is highly correlated to low female education participation; and females are relegated to the most vulnerable jobs while they suffer considerable violence.

Recently, tens of thousands of Britons called on the U.K. government to nominate Malala Yousafzai for the Nobel Peace Prize. She is a Pakistani girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban for advocating girls' education - she was hospitalized in the U.K. Unusually outspoken, she was well-known for her education and women's rights activism in the Swat Valley, where the Taliban had at times banned girls from attending school.

Meanwhile, the fates of thousands like her go unnoticed, and often there is no route to emancipation because business ownership is concentrated in men's hands throughout the developing world. The high aims of the MDGs are challenged by the Copenhagen Consensus led by Bjorn Lomborg, which in 2004 brought together a group of economists who, with input from focus groups, created a list of tasks. These were the framework for prioritizing explicitly the world's big problems. Their goal was to achieve the most "good" for people and the planet based on evidence and with limited financial resources. In CC04, as the meeting was called, the four top-ranked projects included three related to health management and one on trade liberalization. The bottom four (of 17 projects) saw little benefit in advancing labor migration or climate change programs, including the Kyoto Protocol. They were seen as "not value for money." Education did not feature, nor gender issues. However, hunger and malnutrition were top-ranked issues as well as trade. And we can appreciate that to make policies stick requires an educated developing-world workforce, and following a better health policy would yield a cohort of children better able to learn.

In CC08, reducing the cost of education rose to issue No. 6 and improving girls' education was No. 8. By CC12, mitigating hunger to aid children's education had risen to the first issue, and deworming children to offer better pathways to health and education rose to fourth.

Global game plan
One may see the economists' hard-nosed views being expressed in terms of achievable outcomes in the Copenhagen meetings, whereas the MDG meetings espoused hopes and pressured underperformers.

David Griggs et al recently pleaded in the U.K. journal Nature (March 2013) for us to move quickly to a more sustainable society after the end of the MDG period in 2015. Griggs listed six new megagoals (the SDG framework) that seem to combine the aims of the Copenhagen Consensus economists with the aspirations of the U.N. experts. His top goal is expressed as: "Thriving lives and livelihoods. End poverty and improve well-being through access to education, employment and information, better health and housing, and reduced inequality while moving towards sustainable consumption and production."

I think these are realistic, as improving lives and livelihoods would promote sustainable access to food, water and energy while protecting biodiversity and ecosystem services. Yet none of these are possible without changes to local and global economic playing fields. National policies should place a value on natural capital and place a cost on unsustainable actions.

We have seen over a couple of decades that world competition in terms of the MDGs can lift the performance of developing nations. But as the Copenhagen Consensus suggests, too much cash may be spent on aspirational issues and not enough on achievable ones. Thus there are "own goals" - goals we accidentally score against ourselves.

However, the new work of Griggs suggests we might turn national competitions and winning local goals into coordinated global goals that combine the U.N. aspirations with the Copenhagen cost-benefits. There is hope yet.

 

Frank-Jürgen Richter is founder and chairman of Horasis, a global visions community.


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