This article argues that two ideas – human development and results‐based management – were particularly significant in shaping the MDGs. These are unlikely intellectual bedfellows, but by charting the evolution of the MDGs, their many influences are demonstrated.
The conclusion identifies three main lessons. First, it argues that the MDGs have had only limited impact on policies and actions because the idea behind them, human development, was never fully institutionalised. Second, the article points out the disjuncture that occurred with global goals, the MDGs being operationalised by country level Poverty Reduction Strategies (PRSs) overseen by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. PRSs need to be genuinely owned by countries, and the IMF and World Bank need to introduce internal ‘Arrogance Reduction Strategies’ to transform their control‐oriented cultures. Finally, the conclusion questions whether the idea of human development is past its ‘sell‐by’ date – do we need a new idea to mobilise and guide post‐2015 pro‐poor policy?
This article comes from the IDS Bulletin 41.1 (2010) Lessons from the Making of the MDGs: Human Development Meets Results‐based Management in an Unfair World