What Do the Global Goals Mean for Rich Countries? – Podcast with David Hallam

September 28, 2015

After hearing from Tony Pipa recently about the US take on the Post-2015 process, I sat down with David Hallam, UK Envoy for the Post-2015 Development Goals, to better understand the UK’s position on the recently agreed Global Goals.

What was the Envoy most pleased to see included in the Goals? Hallam emphasized that these goals are not only targeting developing countries or trying to boost global averages, but they truly are for everyone. For example, the issue of gender equality, he told me, is one that every country needs to work on, but incorporating those targets will look different for each country.  

We didn’t get into the issue of how exactly do you measure the true on-the-ground progress of gender equality but, seeing as the goals are for everyone, I did want to know more about what tangible policy impact they will have on domestic policies in the UK?

Hallam said, “We started off conversations with our domestic ministries, I think, about two and a half years ago… and we’ve continued to work very closely with the Cabinet Office to ensure that we’ve got strong engagement with domestic ministries throughout this process, not just foreign-facing ones.”

As the UK embarks upon a government-wide spending review, Hallam told me he’s pleased that “the Chief Secretary to the Treasury and the Cabinet Office Minister have written to departments saying, ‘We need you to think about how you’re going to be implementing the Global Goals linking in with that process.’”

So there you have it.

Just like the Americans, no surprises really that the British too are very happy to see Goal 16 included, with its everything-but-the-word emphasis on democracy. But Hallam also talked about the importance of building resilience in states affected by conflict or natural disaster, and it’s that line connecting humanitarian relief to development where the UK really has led the way.

Of the hundreds of millions of pounds in assistance the UK has given for Syrian refugees in neighboring countries, for instance, much has gone on building up their infrastructure in acknowledgement of the reality that theirs is a long-term plight. For Hallam, Goal 16 is as much about building resilience and stability in societies as it is about ‘accountable and inclusive institutions’ (just don’t mention China). 

Compared to the MDGs, the overall tone of these goals is different, said Hallam, because it’s less about rich countries giving to poor countries, and more about a universal effort to improve the lives of all individuals. And after 20 years working in development, Hallam’s biggest inspiration comes from the fact that, instead of talking about alleviating poverty, we are now talking about eradicating it.


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