Even better: the goals and targets laid out by the HLP are in many ways a considerable advance on the original MDGs. They cover issues that were absent or short-changed in the original eight goals, including development issues for middle and high-income countries. There’s target language on ‘good and decent’ jobs (parson of a village church?) and making progress in reducing the numbers below national poverty lines not just extreme poverty. There are goals on good governance, sustainability, and security (peace and good governance are “core elements of well-being, not an optional extra” --bravo). It would be nice to have a little more on what quality of life we should really aspire to for all people, but this is a good start.
Gender comes out a big winner in terms of attention –from a lackluster MDG Goal Four on gender equality in school access we get a Goal Two proposing elimination of violence against women (more on that in a minute), the end of child marriage, and equal rights to property, contract signature, business registration and financial access.
And environment does a *lot* better than it did in the original MDGs. Doubtless in part in an effort to appease and embrace the parallel UN Sustainable Development Goals Working Group (see here for some background), the HLP report bends backwards to emphasize the importance of sustainable development as part of a unified set of post-2015 development targets. Not least: “There is one trend –climate change—which will determine whether or not we can deliver on our ambitions” (serious though the issue is, that’s hyperbole when it comes to 2030 goals). As a result, no less than three goals include the word sustainable or sustainably (covering energy, jobs, environmental accounting, biodiversity, soil, desertification) a fourth and fifth goal cover sustainable water usage, agriculture and fishing and a sixth goal includes a target of 2 degrees centigrade warming.