Over the past several years I have become increasingly aware of efforts to coordinate international development and cooperation. There is no doubt this reflects growing public awareness for environmental and developmental issues and, in France, at least, results directly from significant public debate about the nature and logic of progress and development.
How does this concern me? Like so much in life that is revealed only as the spirit becomes receptive, the Millennium Development Campaign comes after a near-lifetime of efforts to understand my own Self in terms of non-American, non-protestant, non-English-speaking Others. Issues of Self and Other are at the heart of international efforts to save the planet and defuse cycles of stress and violence that have long characterized our western societies and only this past century gave us two European civil wars.
Several years ago, on the fifth anniversary of the Millennium Declaration, I read a PowerPoint presentation regarding the millennium goals.
I had heard of the project but dismissed it as something for do-gooders.
September 2010, five years on and the Millennium Goals continue to be the focus of concerted international efforts to cultivate fairness and reddress poverty; Five years on and we have not taken our eye off the ball.
What is the Millennium project?
First, the Millennium Declaration was an affirmation of the United Nations. It was a consensus declaration for the empowerment of civil society in pursuit of “fair and sustainable development”. The declaration acknowledges the principle of national sovereignty and affirms that certain values are essential to international relations, including : freedom, equality, solidarity, tolerance, respect for nature and shared responsibility.
The declaration then lists a series of objectives :
– peace security and disarmament
– economic development and poverty eradication
– protecting our common environment
– human rights, democracy and good governance
– protecting the vulnerable
– meeting the special needs of Africa
– strengthening the United Nations
The Millennium Declaration was signed 10 years ago. It marked the transformaton of the international political agenda by affirming that henceforth and for the next 15 years, international civil society would have an agenda.
There is no question that the only path to improve our human habitation of planet Earth is one of fairness and social equity. Solidarity in the name of what is right and just and improved working and living conditions are the only way to prevail against darkness, anger and terrorism. (It is worth noting that the Millennium declaration was in place a full year before Al Qaida unleashed war on Western materialism.)
I am not sure that “Mother Nature” can sustain another billion “consumers”, but it is clear that the conditions necessary for dialogue and accomodation cannot be achieved if people do not feel themselves respected and ultimately, responsible for their own welfare.
Growth in a world of finite resources can only occur if there is a sense of shared destiny and a common vocabulary, whatever the language. The values and objectives expressed in the Millennium Declaration have become a benchmark for institutional cooperation and just as importantly, they have provided a political and economic vocabulary for cooperation.
In September 2010 the United Nations Millennium Campaign, with financial support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, published a report on progress toward MDGs, “Millennium Development Goals Report Card: measuring progress across countries”. This report makes some astonishing discoveries with respect to an improving human condition.
This is certainly a “higher order” for world governance. It may have taken 10 years to gain currency in my thinking, and I can only wonder how long will it take to find an echo among my peers. Is there a tangible community of like minded thinkers?