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Global Development Goals: the United Nations experience

Pages 69-95 | Published online: 22 Jan 2007
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This paper reviews experience since governments first began, through the United Nations, setting time-bound quantitative goals to serve as guidelines and benchmarks for national and international action and development assistance. It argues that, contrary to much opinion, many of these goals have had a major influence on subsequent action and many have been largely or considerably achieved. It discusses approaches to implementation adopted in the United Nations Development Decades as well as by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the Bretton Woods’ structural adjustment programmes. It underlines the need for a more nuanced and critical approach to what is meant by goal achievement, drawing on the experience of the Water Decade and the child survival revolution. It examines the ways in which global goals were costed, and draws lessons for the pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals. Appendix 1 summarizes the wide range of goals, targets and results adopted and the results achieved.


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