A new report released by Cambridge's Humanitarian Centre aims to set the agenda for a new round of international development goals in 2015. 

We are all vulnerable to the effects of increasing social inequality, and we need to think about how we can each make a contribution to achieving future global development goals

Anne Radl

A four-part manifesto for fighting global poverty, which aims to build on the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals when they expire in 2015, has been published by the Humanitarian Centre in Cambridge.

The document, called Working Out Our Future Together, is part-report and part-handbook, and is designed to show how anyone can, and must, get involved in the drive to end global poverty - whether they are volunteers, policy-makers, business-people or even shoppers.

Written by a combination of Cambridge-linked academics and field practitioners, the document is being published on the website of the Humanitarian Centre which is an affiliate of the University of Cambridge.

It is aimed at individuals and organisations in the Cambridge area with an interest in development issues, and others who, like many businesses, may have previously been seen as peripheral to the anti-poverty agenda.

At the heart of the report are four guiding principles which, according to its editors, will need to define future international development strategies after the current Millennium Development Goals end in two years’ time. These are:

• Poor and marginalised groups should shape development strategies;
• Solutions cannot be one-size-fits all, and must be devised with complexity in mind;
• Efforts should be made to ensure that development strategies are adding value for the people they seek to help;
• Everyone needs to be mobilised to take action on poverty, and related global challenges.

The report will be launched at a special event in Cambridge on Thursday, November 28.

Anne Radl, Programmes Manager at the Humanitarian Centre and co-editor of the report, said: “What we are hoping is that anyone who picks up, downloads, or receives it will be able to think about how their professional and personal life is intertwined with global development and how they can play a role in ending global poverty and creating a more just and sustainable world.”

“Our message is that we are all stakeholders in the development agenda, because we all have something at stake. Whether we are rich or poor, we are all vulnerable to the effects of increasing social inequality and environmental degradation, and we need to think about how we can each make a contribution to achieving future global development goals.”

The Millennium Development Goals were set at the turn of the 21st century and were an international commitment, signed by all the members of the United Nations, to reduce global poverty and injustice by 2015. Many of them have already been met – for example, extreme poverty has been halved since 1990, as has the number of people without safe drinking water.

But as the deadline for completing this achievement draws closer, thoughts are turning to what the future Sustainable Development Goals, set to be introduced in 2015, should be. Part of the solution involves accepting that while the original goals were a huge achievement, some key issues were missed. For example, they did not differentiate between groups within the societies they aimed to help, and they did not always provide a model for how to gather evidence about positive change.

This is where the Humanitarian Centre’s new document comes in. Divided into four chapters based on the four principles which it claims should guide future development, the publication also features essays and case studies explaining these ideas further, and offering examples of existing projects through which volunteers, policy-makers and companies are already making a difference to the lives of the poor.

One of its key messages is that the voices of the marginalised people in society, such as those living with disabilities and the young, are, ironically, often excluded from discussions about how to end social inequality. The report highlights numerous cases in which radio broadcasting, SMS technology, research and social media have been used to get these groups to share information and ideas about how to create change in their communities.

The case-studies include a film project which has helped develop understanding between communities in war-stricken Sudan; an agricultural initiative in Africa to help farmers, scientists and politicians talk to one another about realistically improving food security; and a Cambridge-based firm, Azuri Technologies, whose solar technology is being used to create jobs, as well as energy, in sub-Saharan Africa.

Each chapter also ends with a summary showing readers how, no matter who or where they are, they can also take action. These range from tips on apps that allow people to listen to international radio to get new perspectives on development issues, to information on massive open online courses with a global development theme, and advice on ethical shopping on the high street.

Dr Aled Jones, Director of the Global Sustainability Institute at Anglia Ruskin University, and a contributor to the report, said: “Global development efforts have seen great strides forward over the past few decades with different stakeholders working together to understand the complexities and very local issues that communities face.”

“However, the next few decades will determine whether development really delivers poverty alleviation, or if we face a multitude of challenges including food and water scarcity or rising energy prices and climate change that set our development achievements back. Only by breaking down silos of expertise and working together can the aspirations of a global population be met.” 

The full document, Working Out Our Future Together: four steps towards ending global poverty can be found at: http://www.humanitariancentre.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/2013-Cambri...  

For more information about this story, please contact Tom Kirk, Tel: +44 (0)1223 332300, thomas.kirk@admin.cam.ac.uk

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