Friday, 4 May 2012

MDG Summit, reflections on Day 1. (James)

The MDG Summit sees representatives from the private sector, governments, the UN and NGOs coming together to discuss how business can contribute to solving the challenges set out in the MDGs.

One of the key themes is the importance of partnerships; success, it is being argued, relies upon all implementing actors working together to achieve sustainable outcomes.

But with all this talk of donors, philanthropists, governments, businesses, charities and the UN all working together, one important stakeholder has been somewhat sidelined.

It is indicative, perhaps, of the distancing effect of working towards a set of global, all-encompassing development goals that throughout the first day of the conference very little mention has been made of the communities, families and individuals whose lives we are trying to improve.  One presentation in particular stood out in this regard, explaining a project which used the sale of carbon credits from reductions in emissions from boiling water to fund the provision of water filters to 900,000 households. Although innovative in its use of new funding models this project, as it was presented, seemed to totally avoid any kind of community engagement to understand the needs of those communities.  Although it could be argued that the provision of water filters to families in need is a no-brainer, I worry that without a deep understanding of the issues faced at a local level projects like this will not achieve the long-term outcomes they were designed to.

We must not let funding models, or even the MDGs become any more than the tools, else we risk losing sight of the very point of development work – to improve lives.

No comments: