Garth Luke leads World Vision's analysis of government aid policies.

Last Friday the next set of global anti-poverty and sustainability goals took a big step closer to agreement.

The UN High Level Panel of Eminent Persons (HLP), chaired by the presidents of Indonesia and Liberia and the UK Prime Minister, released their recommendations for a post-2015 framework to replace the Millennium Development Goals in a report called A New Global Partnership: Eradicate Poverty And Transform Economies Through Sustainable Development.

This HLP report is part of a process of research and consultation to develop a replacement for the MDGs. At present it is running side-by-side with another process to develop environmentally-focused Sustainable Development Goals, however it is likely that the two processes will become one after this year's UN General Assembly meeting in September-October.

The HLP report takes in consultations in over 120 countries with 5000 civil society organisations, academic experts and 250 corporate CEOs. In addition, over 600,000 people have contributed to a survey about their priorities for tomorrow's world.

The HLP proposes a set of 12 goals (up from the MDG's 8) and 54 targets under these goals (up from the current 21) with a 2030 target date. The goals are:

  1. End extreme poverty.
  2. Empower girls and women and achieve gender equality.
  3. Provide quality education and lifelong learning.
  4. Ensure healthy lives.
  5. Ensure food security and good nutrition for all.
  6. Achieve universal access to water and sanitation.
  7. Secure sustainable energy.
  8. Create jobs, sustainable livelihoods, and equitable growth.
  9. Manage natural resource assets sustainably.
  10. Ensure good governance and effective institutions.
  11. Ensure stable and peaceful societies.
  12. 12. Create a global enabling environment and catalyse long-term finance.

While 12 goals and 54 targets may seem a lot, the Panel has done well to keep them to this number given the wide-ranging suggestions it received and the limitless ideas that humans have to make the world a better place. Responses to the Panel's recommendations have been positive. While the recommendations and targets cover most of the key issues of concern, the proposed goals offer a continuation of the simple and understandable MDG framework which most observers see as a key strength.

The Panel has attempted to fill some of the gaps in the MDGs such as women's rights, environmental sustainability and good governance, and to improve national ownership and accountability and global cooperation around the goals.

While there will be criticism that key issues are absent or too weak (eg. income inequality, greater migration opportunities) or should not be included (one can see certain interests opposing a target for zero child marriages or for universal access to contraception), the framework of goals and targets developed by the Panel provides a strong foundation for the next steps in the process and for focusing debate.

Hopefully, we now will have a global discussion about what specific targets should be included rather than what such a framework will look like.

This HLP report and other consultations will feed into a report from the Secretary General to the UN General Assembly in September, but from there the process is a bit fuzzy. It is likely that the Sustainable Development Goals and post-MDG process will be fused at that time, and that the UN will vote on a final post-2015 framework in September 2014.

This last week also saw the release of the 2013 DATA Report which has a summary of country progress against the current MDGs. This shows fairly encouraging performance against the MDG targets, with 65% of developing countries (87 countries) at least half way towards their targets and only 15% (or 20 countries) with overall scores of less than 30%. Progress on many of the goals is widespread and not confined to those countries with high economic growth.

In our region, almost all of Australia's main aid recipients are making good progress against the MDGs. Of the ten countries receiving the most aid from Australia, eight have progress scores greater than 60%.

Photo by Flickr user DFID — UK Department for International Development.