Jasmine Whitbread share her thoughts on the The Global Development Outlook session at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting 2013 in Davos.

This diverse panel, representing the highest level of government (of developed and developing countries), business and the third (not-for-profit) sector, drew a full house and threw up some interesting areas of consensus and contention.

Everyone agreed that the current Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have proved a great lever for tackling big global issues.  The number of children dying from preventable causes before their 5th birthday has halved, and similarly spectacular progress has been made in getting kids into school.  The framework has helped align support from rich governments and businesses, while promoting a search for best practices among developing countries looking to scale proven solutions.

There was agreement that the priority has to be pushing as hard and fast as possible over the last 1,000 days to reach the current goals.  Key to this will be delivering on existing promises. And whatever comes next must build on success to date as well as learn from shortcomings. One of the shortcomings acknowledged widely was the lack of consultation – the agenda post-2015 must be widely, and locally, owned.

There were also suggestions for additions and tweaks: to focus on the quality of education and jobs for the youth, to improve nutrition to reduce child mortality, and to address the shocking waste of human capital caused by stunting.

The major issue of contention was how widely to open up the agenda – on the one hand, United Nations Secretary-General  Ban Ki-moon talked about encompassing all 26 themes coming out of Rio, while at the other end of the spectrum, Bill Gates argued to keep it simple and focused on the poorest.  Helene Gale was somewhere in the middle, wanting to keep it simple but also acknowledging that climate change could not be ignored as a major factor for poverty. There were quite different views on whether the goals should encompass corruption, justice and conflict.  And two other questions I was left with were:

  • Do people agree with David Cameron’s call to be inspirational and aim to eradicate extreme poverty?
  • What about inequality, which leaves behind whole sections of society?

The most interesting point, only mentioned in passing, was about accountability – whatever the agenda finally agreed (and we must agree), we will need to be much clearer about who is accountable for what. This forms the basis of any sound partnership.

Author: Jasmine Whitbread is Chief Executive Officer, Save the Children International, United Kingdom and is participating in the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting 2013 in Davos

Image: Pictured The Global Development Outlook session at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting 2013 in Davos