Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Achieving the MDGs – A Note

Kishtany, Naill and Taffesse, Alemayehu Seyoum (2004): Achieving the MDGs – A Note. Published in: Ethiopian Journal of Economics , Vol. 18, No. 1 (April 2009): pp. 101-116.


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The material and symbolic importance of these targets make it vital to assess the analytical coherence of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) “project”. In this spirit, this paper highlights complexities and difficulties of the MDG approach. Specifically, it outlines a framework for analysing the MDGs and subsequently discusses measuring progress; achieving and valuing multi-dimensional outcomes; sustainability; devising policies during structural transformation; and implementing policies in a decentralised policy system. These discussions draw attention to limitations of current methods of analysing the MDGs. Indeed, the history of today’s rich countries shows that development is a drawn out, uneven and contradictory process full of reversals and discontinuity. The MDGs, with their ambitious, linear, broad, and essentially ahistorical set of socio-economic goals belie this complexity; contemporary developed countries measured yesterday with today’s MDG yardstick might well have been branded “failures”.

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