Obama on MDGs and a New Initiative

With 10 years down and just five years before our development targets come due, we must do better.  — President Obama

On September 22, 2010, President Obama made a speech in New York at the Millennium Development Goals Summit. While saying that there has been progress towards achieving the MDGs, Obama says that the progress has not come fast enough. He announces that the old tactics towards development are not enough, and that “If the international community just keeps doing the same things the same way, we may make some modest progress here and there, but we will miss many development goals.  That is the truth”. Based off our discussions in class, this is good news. Richard Heeks’ article “ICTs and MDGs: on the wrong track?” addresses some of the main issues with the MDGs, most importantly that there they don’t use or address ICTs.

With that, Obama announced in this speech a new US Global Development Policy.  Both his speech and the new policy specifically address using technology towards development. The President remarks that aid alone is not equal to development, and that we must remember the lessons from the Green Revolution to achieve sustainable development. One policy is to “Invest in game-changing innovations with the potential to solve long-standing development challenges”. One way to achieve this is to increase investment in innovations for development technologies such as “vaccines, weather-resistant seed varieties, and clean energy technologies”.

It is a relief to see that relying simply on the MDGs is no longer the main objective of our government. Obama assures that the US will continue to be the leader in development, and therefore must change and re-vamp our policies to do so, including the implementation and use of ICTs.

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4 responses to “Obama on MDGs and a New Initiative

  • mattbrandeburg

    While I liked this post, I am concerned about the implications of some of the products Mr. Obama is promoting as a means for raising global development. The genetically modified seed part in particular raises many ethical questions and sometimes (as with Monsanto’s regrettable history in India) raises more problems than it reportedly solves. All things to consider as we evaluate our country’s new global policy initiatives.

  • laurag063

    While I love Obama and agree with you on the fact that it is a step in the right direction that he has acknowledged that “aid is not development,” I still feel like our government continues to use far too much rhetoric. I wish I could have seen the speech myself, because while “game-changing innovations” sounds promising, it is also very vague. I hope (but doubt) that the U.S. is really making a better effort to invest in more effective development strategies.

    • clairedwyre

      I too wish I had seen the speech, but from your rendition of it it does seem sincere and logical. I have to disagree, as I do feel that Obama and the US will make a better effort to invest in more effective development strategies as Obama is aware that the old strategies are not enough.

  • elladove

    While I agree with the scepticism towards the question of whether or not these beautifully spoken words will turn into action, and how successful the action will be, I beleive that the president is taking a large step by atleast promising such commitment. The USA is a leader on the global stage, and when we make promises to the UN we are often forced to follow through with atleast some of what we said. I would like to see what has been done since 2010, and what we have planned since then.

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