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“MDG Idol” or “MDG Survivor”?


September 23, 2010

Excitement over Millennium Development Goals can Hide what Works!

Doug Hadden, VP Products

Bright lights and big stars in New York this week. Speeches at the United Nations. Explosion in social media discussion. Today is #socialgood day, so make sure your view is heard on this Millenium Development Goal – “MDG Idol”. What goal is best for you?  In the smorgasbord of causes. Advocates press their case for their chosen cause. And, it is hard to determine which cause to pick with such celebrities as Bono, Bill Clinton, Ed Norton and Gina Davis sharing stages. You can’t disagree with any of these points of view.

This where the lesson gets lost. For all the improvement in MDGs, there remains a group of survivors with limited improvements to date. “MDG Survivor.” So, we should be less concerned about what the G7 will do in aid and more about what the G7+ needs. Who is the G7+?  Burundi, Chad, Republic Democratic of Congo, Nepal, Salomon Islands, Sierra Leona, South of Sudan and Timor-Leste. What do these fragile states need?

Statebuilding and Governance and MDGs

‘”Aid is given based on MDG criteria, and from our experience we have found out that before we can get the MDGs, we have to do a few things first. We have to have peace and stability,” Timor Leste Minister of Finance Emilia Pires told IPS in Dili “It means that you have to build peace and then you have to build a state to manage the whole thing. Peacebuilding and statebuilding must come before the MDGs and if you look at all the literature of the MDGs, it doesn’t talk about that.”‘ That’s why the G7+ have the Dili Declaration that states:

 “Conflict and fragility are major obstacles for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). We recognize that it will be extremely difficult to achieve the MDGs in most fragile and conflict-affected states by 2015. We urgently need to address conflict and fragility by supporting country-led peacebuilding and statebuilding processes. To improve the impact of our efforts we will take immediate actions and develop an International Action Plan on peacebuilding and statebuilding.”

As Daniel Kauffman of the Brookings observes: “there are many explanations for slow and uneven progress on the MDGs, ranging from insufficient donor commitments to the choice of indicators. But, as we have written about before a big part of the answer lies in the highly variable quality of governance across countries.” Good Governance is required to advance MDGs. The Dili Declaration shows “governance” as a key priority.

Transparency for Aid Effectiveness

As our friends at Publish What You Fund emphasize, aid effectiveness is as much about donor transparency as it is recipient government governance. Aid transparency improves aid effectiveness through improved aid harmonization and citizen oversight. That’s the intent behind the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI). That’s also why there will be a significant positive impact from the World Bank decision to provide open data at

What is FreeBalance doing about it?

As a For Profit Social Enterprise (FOPSE) whose mission is to bring tools for good governance around the world, the MDGs are critically important. Of course, it helps to have Government Resource Planning software that can be implemented and operated successfully in fragile states like Sierra Leone, Timor-Leste, Liberia, Afghanistan and South of Sudan. We remain active in IATI pushing for improved budget integration. And, we try to share lessons learned.


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Doug Hadden

Doug Hadden

Executive Vice President, Innovation at FreeBalance
Doug is responsible for identifying new global markets, new technologies and trends, and new and enhanced internal processes. Doug leads a cross-functional international team that is responsible for developing product prototypes and innovative go-to-market strategies.

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