Delivering on global partnerships

01 Oct 2008


The UN's new report on 'Delivering on the Global Partnership for Achieving the Millennium Development Goals' focuses on MDG 8 that envisages developing global partnerships for development and evaluates the progress in establishing global partnerships.

New Horizons -
“While there has been progress on many fronts, the delivery on commitments has been deficient and has fallen behind schedule. It is therefore essential that all partners accelerate their efforts to deliver on the promises they have made” says UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon in the preface of a recently published report. “Delivering on the Global Partnership for Achieving the Millennium Development Goals” prepared by the MDG Gap Task Force was launched on 4 September 2008 by Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon in New York.

In the Millennium Summit in 2000, leaders of 191 nations came together and pledged to respond to the world’s challenges and set the 8 Millennium Development Goals that included eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality and empowering women, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, ensuring environmental sustainability and finally developing global partnerships for development. This report focuses on Goal 8 of the Millennium Development Goals: developing global partnerships for development.

The report is a call to improve the monitoring of progress on the global partnership for development as embodied in Goal 8 of the MDGs. The main message is that while there has been progress on several counts, delivery on commitments made by Member States has fallen behind schedule. The report thus highlights the gaps in the area of Official Development Assistance (ODA), trade, debt relief, access to essential medicines and transfer of new technologies. These gaps show that a shift in both quantity and quality is needed to fulfill the promise of halving extreme poverty, achieving universal primary education and gender parity and improving the health and living conditions of millions of people.

“Delivering on the Global Partnership for Achieving the Millennium Development Goals” states that “the weakening of the world economy and the steep rises in food and energy prices threaten to reverse some of the progress made in the various dimensions of human development. Strengthened global partnerships are needed to avoid any reversal of progress made thus far. In the countdown to 2015, urgent responses are needed to bridge the existing implementation gaps and deliver on the promises to achieve the MDGs”.

Official Development Assistance

Regarding official development assistance, the report states that efforts to step up ODA have suffered a setback. In 2007, the only countries to reach or exceed the United Nations target of 0.7% of their gross national income (GNI) were Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. Current implementation gaps in the delivery of aid flows and slow progress in improving the quality of ODA are early warnings of the risk of not meeting global targets within the time frame set by the MDGs. The report states that accelerated progress requires the following explicit actions:

·        Donors should increase aid flows by $18 billion (at July 2008 exchange rates). In 2007 total ODA fell short by over $10 billion.

·        In order to reach the committed increase in the annual flow of net ODA to Africa by 2010, donors should allocate an additional $6.4 billion a year.

·        Donors should also increase their ODA to other least developed countries (LDCs).

·        Donors, including emerging donors and recipient countries, should accelerate progress towards the alignment of aid, harmonization, management for results and mutual accountability of aid resources as well as improve dialogue with non-DAC (Development Assistance Committee) donors. In recent years, non-DAC donors, developing country donors and private funds have increased the availability of financial resources for development. Partial records of total ODA from non-DAC countries estimate an increase from $1.5 billion in 2000 to $5.1 billion in 2006.

Regarding ODA, the report also evaluates how to increase effectiveness of ODA to landlocked developing countries and small island developing states and asseses the allocation of aid to basic social services and provides abundant graphs and indicators.

Market Access (Trade)

The main trade target in MDG 8 is to develop further an open, rule-based, predictable and non-discriminatory trading and financial system and providing tariff- and quota-free access for the least developed countries’ exports; however, only slow progress has been made regarding this issue. The report reminds that one of the objectives of the Doha Round of trade negotiations initiated in 2001 was to address the needs of developing countries according to a “development agenda” but states that the failure to conclude the Doha Round constitutes the largest implementation gap in the area of trade. The report however also provides certain recommendations:

·        Member states should make clearer and stronger commitments to expand Aid for Trade resources to assist low-income countries in realizing their productive and export potential and in supporting their efforts to create productive employment.

·        The resources for Aid for Trade and their allocation should be better aligned with specific country needs.

·        The international community should ensure that perspective bilateral and regional economic partnerships provide genuine market access and entry for exports of developing countries.

·        The international community should reduce substantially the tariff and tariff escalation imposed by developed countries on agricultural products, textiles and clothing from developing countries.

Debt Sustainability

Important progress has been made in meeting the MDG target of dealing comprehensively with the debt problems of developing countries but it still hasn’t been fully achieved. Despite the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPCs) Initiative and the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative, a large number of developing countries still spend more on debt servicing than on public education or health. As of June 2008, 23 of 41 heavily indebted countries had reached their completion point under the enhanced HIPC Initiative. The report stresses that additional efforts are needed to make progress sustainable and that actions are needed to reduce the debt burden of countries that have not yet benefited from current debt-relief initiatives. The report provides recommendations for making additional resources available to vulnerable countries and to improve the external debt sustainability of countries such as:

·        Mobilizing additional donor resources to facilitate debt relief in some HIPCs.

·        Reviewing and refining the currently employed Debt Sustainability Framework and

·        Establishing a sovereign debt restructuring process for non-HIPCs experiencing debt distress.

Access to Affordable Essential Medicines

Information available in a number of countries suggests the existance of large gaps in the availability of medicines in both the public and private sectors as well as a wide variation in prices – much higher than the international reference prices (IRPs) – which render essential medicines unaffordable to poor people. However the fact that some developing countries have better availability and lower prices shows that access to quality, assured, affordable essential medicines can be improved through stronger partnership among governments, pharmaceutical companies and civil society. The report provides recommendations that can be applied at the national level and at the global level.

At the national level:

·        Eliminating taxes and duties on essential medicines

·        Updating the national list of essential medicines

·        Ensuring adequate availability of essential medicines in public health care facilities

·        Regularly monitoring medicine prices and availability

At the global level:

·        Encouraging pharmaceutical companies to apply differential pricing practices to reduce prices of essential medicines in developing countries where generic equivalents are not available

·        Enhancing the promotion of the production of generic medicines (in the majority of cases, generically equivalent products have lower prices than the originator brand)

·        Increasing funding for research and development in areas of medicines relevant to developing countries, including children’s dosage forms and most neglected diseases.

Access to New Technologies

The report focuses on the coverage of mobile phones and the digital divide in internet use among countries and states that there are large gaps in improving access to technology that is essential to increasing productivity, sustaining economic growth and improving service delivery in areas such as health and education. The report stresses that part of the difficulty in assessing progress in this area is the lack of numerical targets regarding delivery. The digital divide in the access to modern technology is widening between developed and developing countries. Deficits in infrastructure such as limited coverage of electricity supply in low-income developing countries are preventing faster penetration of information and communication technologies (ICT). Moreover the recent food crisis and the challenges of climate change facing developing countries also require accelerating the transfer of technology especially in the fields of agricultural development and adaptation to climate change. Some of the actions listed by the report for expanding access to technology for development include:

·        Formulating national ICT strategies

·        Increasing efforts to expand both basic infrastructure (such as electricity supply) and ICT-facilitating infrastructure especially in low-income countries

·        Creating incentives for the private sector to develop technologies relevant to people in low-income countries; including those that address issues of climate change and renewable energy and

·        Applying differential pricing practices to reduce the costs of key technology in developing countries in order to make access affordable to all.

The report represents a unique and collaborative effort by over 20 UN agencies making up the Task Force. All relevant agencies have joined efforts to step up statistical data collection and to identify policy gaps that need to be bridged in order to achieve results.

The MDG Gap Task Force was created by the Secretary-General following the discussion of the Policy Committee on 1 May 2007 to improve monitoring of the global commitments contained in the MDGs. The Task Force integrates more than 20 UN agencies including participation from the World Bank, IMF as well as OECD and World Trade Organization. UNDP and the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN/DESA) are lead agencies in coordinating the work of the Task Force.

To read the report, please click here.