The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are an ambitious agenda for reducing poverty and improving lives that world leaders agreed to at the UN Millennium Summit in September 2000.
In November 2003 the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) organized an international conference to explore how tensions between global targets and local needs can be used creatively ﾖ as opposed to leading to paralysis or mis-direction. Participants came from a wide variety of contexts, with strong representation from Southern organizations focusing on local sustainability and also from donor agencies and international institutions. The following messages came through strongly from the event:
1. Local actors and organizations are central to achieving most of the MDGs.
2. There are many routes to achieving the MDGs, requiring innovation and change in current practice.
3. Among national governments, MDGs differ in status: some have given them very high priority, while others give them little or no attention.
4. For donor agencies, perhaps the main challenge is institutional. How can they engage with bottom-up processes as well as support national governments?
5. There are obvious, important changes needed at global level to meet the MDGs, which depend on rich-world governments shifting policy in major ways.
6. How can the ambitious goals be assessed on whether they are being met, globally, nationally and locally?
7. The key principles within the Millennium Declaration should not be forgotten in focusing on the MDGs ﾖ for these discuss the underlying causes of poverty and exclusion.
8. Next steps for IIED.