Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 01/2012

More Money or More Development: What Have the MDGs Achieved?

Charles Kenny, Andy Sumner

December 2011

Center for Global Development


What have the MDGs achieved? And what might their achievements mean for any second generation of MDGs or MDGs 2.0? We argue that the MDGs may have played a role in increasing aid and that development policies beyond aid quantity have seen some limited improvement in rich countries (the evidence on policy change in poor countries is weaker). Further, there is some evidence of faster-than-expected progress improving quality of life in developing countries since the Millennium Declaration, but the contribution of the MDGs themselves in speeding that progress is—of course—difficult to demonstrate even assuming the MDGs induced policy changes after 2002. The paper reflects on what the global goal setting experience of the MDGs has taught us and how things might be done differently if there is a new round of MDGs after 2015. The authors conclude that any MDGs 2.0 need targets that are set realistically and directly link aid flows to social policy change and to results.