1st Edition

Millennium Development Goals Ideas, Interests and Influence

By Sakiko Fukuda-Parr Copyright 2017
    273 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    273 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Heralded as a success that mobilized support for development, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) ushered in an era of setting development agendas by setting global goals. This book critically evaluates the MDG experience from the capabilities and human rights perspectives, and questions the use of quantitative targets as an instrument of global governance. It provides an account of their origins, trajectory and influence in shaping the policy agenda, and ideas about international development during the first 15 years of the 21st century. The chapters explore:

    • whether the goals are adequate as benchmarks for the transformative vision of the Millennium Declaration;

    • how the goals came to be formulated the way they were, drawing on interviews with key actors who were involved in the process;

    • how the goals exercised influence through framing to shape policy agendas on the part of both developing countries and the international community;

    • the political economy that drove the formulation of the goals and their consequences on the agendas of the South and the North;

    • the effects of quantification and indicators on ideas and action; and

    • the lessons to be drawn for using numeric goals to promote global priorities.

    Representing a significant body of work on the MDGs in its multiple dimensions, compiled here for the first time as a single collection that tells the whole definitive story, this book provides a comprehensive resource. It will be of great interest to students, researchers and policymakers in the fields of development, human rights, international political economy, and governance by numeric indicators.

    Introduction: Goals and norms of development

    Part I Shaping the international development agenda: From human development and human rights to basic needs

    Chapter 1. Prospective circa 2003: The Millennium Development Goals—why they matter

    Chapter 2. Retrospective circa 2013: Recapturing the human rights vision of the Millennium Declaration

    Part II The marketplace of ideas

    Chapter 3. The emergence and spread of the global poverty norm

    Chapter 4. The poverty narrative and the political economy of development

    Chapter 5. Are the MDGs a priority in national poverty reduction strategies and aid programs? Only a few are!

    Part III Global goals and the power of numbers

    Chapter 6. Global goals as a policy tool: Intended and unintended effects of quantification

    Chapter 7. The power of numbers: How targets perverted human rights and human development agendas

    Chapter 8. Framing the discourse and shaping agendas: The MDG hunger target and the narrative of food security

    Chapter 9. MDGs as performance measures: Faulty metrics that penalize countries starting behind

    Chapter 10. Conclusion: Global goals to set international agendas


    Select bibliography


    Sakiko Fukuda-Parr is Professor in the Graduate Program in International Affairs at The New School, New York. From 1995 to 2004, she was Director of the UNDP Human Development Reports.

    ‘This book, by one of the foremost analysts of development goals, presents a review of the strong influence but also the limitations of the United Nations’ MDGs. It holds important lessons on the use of global goals, and it is a must read in the era of the SDGs launched by the UN in 2015.’ - José Antonio Ocampo, Professor, Columbia University, USA. Former UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs

    'This critically important book examines the consequences of using numerical goals for development. Focusing on the major contemporary development initiative, Sakiko Fukuda-Parr exposes serious limitations of governance by indicators, particularly for a human rights approach to development.' Sally Engle Merry, New York University and author of 'The Seductions of Quantification: Measuring Human Rights, Gender Violence, and Sex Trafficking'

    'Just like the king in "The Little Prince" claimed to command the sun to set every evening, the MDGs have been credited with results that would most likely have happened anyhow, while obscuring increased inequalities and structural causes. A privileged witness and participant, Sakiko Fukuda-Parr brilliantly documents in this book two decades of development practice and narrative and draws unavoidable conclusions.' - Roberto Bissio, coordinator of Social Watch