MDGs – Can We Meet the Goals?

The following post was written by current SIPA student Sawako Sonoyama.


Look at this line up:

  • Kandeh Yumkella, Director General of UNIDO
  • Nafis Sadik, Special Advisor of the Secretary General on HIV/Aids and former Executive Director of UNFPA
  • Jomo Sundaram, Assistant Secretary General for Economic Develop-ment, Department of Economic and Social Affairs
  • Rebeca Grynspan, Associate Administrator ,UNDP
  • Robert Orr, Assistant Secretary General for Policy Coordination and Strategic Planning, Executive Office of the Secretary General

Only at SIPA would we be able to gather all these wonderful UN leaders in one room at one time, especially when the MDG summit is right around the corner. This week from September 20 to 22, the world’s eyes will focus on New York as leaders around the world gather at the UN to discuss the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).


As most SIPA prospective applicants know, the MDGs are eight international development goals that all 192 UN members states and multiple international organizations have agreed to achieve by 2015. These goals include eradicating poverty, reducing child mortality rates, and creating a global partnership for development.  With only five years remaining until the deadline of these goals, the UN Secretary-General Bank Ki-moon will be leading the upcoming MDG summit to discuss how the progress could be accelerated. Although there has been tremendous progress made for some of these goals, many are skeptical and doubtful that MDGs will be met.  Where are the gaps? Could we uphold the dream? The speakers listed above provided their answers to these pressing questions.

I was pleasantly surprised to hear Ms. Grynspan of UNDP declare that the MDGs are achievable.  Her optimism, commitment, and energy for the upcoming five years in achieving these goals were remarkable. Perhaps her position at UNDP forces her to maintain this positive attitude, however, this outlook is crucial in keeping the momentum. Whether we meet the goals or not, we have to keep going. Even if we do not meet the goals, I would still think the spirit of the MDGs and the progress it has made is far greater than what we would have done without setting these collaborative goals.

What we also have to keep in mind is that the MDGs themselves are not enough. Efforts for poverty reduction and global partnership do not end in 2015. The MDGs themselves do not encompass everything that has to get done to decrease the gap between the rich and the poor. For example, Mr. Yumkella from UNIDO brought up the “Forgotten MDG—Energy” and that the MDGs are not achievable unless we consider each goals implications to energy. Another topic that got left behind is related to reproductive health. Of course, there are countless more goals that excluded in the eight MDGs, but we have to be creative and holistic in the process we take in reaching these MDGs so that it could make progress in many areas.

Finally, we will always have to ask who is accountable for the MDGs. As Professor Lindenmayer, Director of the UN Studies Program repeatedly states, the “United Nations is not the global government.”  The MDGs is a collective effort of the UN member states, the nonprofit and private sectors, and many other stakeholders. Who is accountable?

It is going to be an interesting and exciting week to see how the Summit plays out and what new plans will evolve. Many students and professors at SIPA will be participating in Summit-related to events. What an exciting time to be in New York!