Saturday, March 22, 2008

Being Fair and Balanced About the Millennium Development Goals

I have a LinkedIn account (no, not under "Ontario Emperor," silly), and I was perusing LinkedIn Answers this morning. One of the questions asked whether we were incorporating the Millennium Development Goals in our personal or business planning.

No one had answered the question at the time. I was the first, and had to confess that I did not incorporate the Millennium Development Goals in my planning. Then I had to confess that the only source of information about the Millennium Development Goals was from "a blogger who wonders whether they, rather than the Bible, have become the official source of all information for the Episcopal Church."

I then linked to two posts in Red Stick Rant. In the second (earlier) post, Clifford wonders what text the Most Rev. Katherine Jefferts Schori is using for her Easter message:

"We cannot love our neighbors unless we care for the creation that supports all our earthly lives."

I couldn't agree with you more, Kate, but I don't know what you mean in the spiritual sense. I smell more than a wiff of activism in your words. So recycling and driving less isn't enough? Unless we pop off a check to PETA, or calculate our carbon footprint, or write our Congressman, or worship the Millennium Development Goals (peace be upon them), we're not following Christ's Great Commandment?


However, I did promise my LinkedIn contact that I would explore the Millennium Development Goals from a different perspective. Might as well to to the United Nations' own website:

The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – which range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by the target date of 2015 – form a blueprint agreed to by all the world’s countries and all the world’s leading development institutions. They have galvanized unprecedented efforts to meet the needs of the world’s poorest.

I'd copy the goals into this blog, but the UN website uses images instead of text on its summary page that shows the goals. You can view all eight of the goals here.

The biggie, in terms of electrons used, is goal 8. Goal 8 has seven sub-bullets, in contrast to child mortality, which merits only one.

  • Develop further an open trading and financial system that is rule-based, predictable and non-discriminatory, includes a commitment to good governance, development and poverty reduction— nationally and internationally

  • Address the least developed countries' special needs. This includes tariff- and quota-free access for their exports; enhanced debt relief for heavily indebted poor countries; cancellation of official bilateral debt; and more generous official development assistance for countries committed to poverty reduction

  • Address the special needs of landlocked and small island developing States

  • Deal comprehensively with developing countries' debt problems through national and international measures to make debt sustainable in the long term

  • In cooperation with the developing countries, develop decentand productive work for youth

  • In cooperation with pharmaceutical companies, provide access to affordable essential drugs in developing countries

  • In cooperation with the private sector, make available the benefits of new technologies— especially information and communications technologies
But has the Episcopal Church truly jettisoned the Gospel and replaced it with the United Nations? Let's start at the Episcopal Church's main web page, then see what they list as priorities. The first two items in the priorities list are webcasts, but the third redirects the surfer to globalgood.org.

globalgood.org, a resource portal for Episcopalians working together to support the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and to reduce global poverty, seeks to help you engage these efforts, which frame the justice and peace work that General Convention has designated as the Episcopal Church’s top mission priority for 2007-2009.

Wow...Clifford was right. Also see this. Between you and me, I'd feel a little better if the Episcopal Church had based its social justice initiatives on the Ten Commandments, rather than on the United Nations policy document.

I seem to have digressed from the original point of the LinkedIn poster. You'll recall that the person on LinkedIn not only asked about personal planning, but also about business planning. When I did a search for the terms millennium development goals business, most of the first search results were from domains ending in .org, or from .com domains such as socialfunds.com. The first real business page that talked about the Millennium Development Goals was from Unilever:

In 2000, the United Nations (UN) set out the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), eight global targets for governments to achieve by 2015, ranging from halving world poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS.

While primary responsibility for delivering these goals lies with governments, business does have an important part to play.

The principal way in which we can make a contribution to the MDGs is through the products we sell and the wealth and jobs our core business operations create. Unilever is one of the world's largest food and home and personal care companies with operations in around 100 countries, and products sold in about 50 more. We make products that meet people's basic needs for nutrition and hygiene and we employ around 179 000 people worldwide. Through our core business, our most important contributions are to the MDGs that address poverty and hunger alleviation, health and environmental sustainability.

We can also make a difference through our local community investment programmes around the world. We believe that these contribute to all eight of the MDGs. In 2006, we contributed €78 million to community programmes focused on education, health, nutrition, environmental sustainability and economic development.


So what can a business do to alleviate poverty? While wages higher than the governments' mandated minimum wages (e.g. $25/month in Bangladesh) would certainly help to alleviate poverty, there is no real incentive for businesses to do such a thing. Yes, people protest the Chinese-made goods at Wal Mart, but then they run out and buy the same Chinese-made goods at Home Depot.

Certainly more exploration is warranted.

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1 comments:

Ayesha said...

Its is about Millenium Development goals..which actually has 8 different goals to be achieved..the foremost being eradicating poverty by 2015.
Please visit www.endpoverty2015.org for detailed explanation.!

An arm of this group is now situated in Delhi and they are about to start up an initiative in India this October with huge participation from people...!

I'll keep updating you with their moves and my role and your help...
Meanwhile, go through the website and revert back..!!