by Maheen Rashid, MPP ’18
How can international development policy be implemented when actors and agents are in a constant state of flux? Have the caveats of past interventions of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) been mitigated and acknowledged for the success of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)? These were some of the questions that were addressed by a diverse group of panelists during a recent visit by Bloustein School graduate policy students to the United Nations in New York City.
Kristinn Sv. Helgason, Deputy Chief of the Development Cooperation Policy Branch in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the UN, explained how the SDGs present a more interlinked and integrative agenda than the vertically oriented MDGs, where each SDG is now mutually dependent as well as bottom-up. This participatory approach not only creates accountability among governments of developing countries but may also lead to better solutions since the input is coming from the grass roots.
Sulan Chen, Policy Adviser in the Global Environment Facility Programme of UNDP, explained the importance of involvement of local leaders and civil society members to truly affect sustainable change. She placed great significance on mobilizing local agents for a global agenda, which requires great patience and perseverance.
Arild Hauge, Deputy Director of the Independent UNDP Evaluation Office, discussed how interventions and their effectiveness should be analyzed. While many students attended the panel with the belief that the SDGs, much like MDGs, were too broad, Mr. Hauge informed the group that these objectives were intentionally ambiguous in order to ensure international cooperation among 193 countries. While the importance of evidence-based policy-making at the UN was emphasized, he also acknowledged some of the weaknesses of the organization, including the operation of some UN agencies in silos.
Rahul Sur, Chief of the Evaluation Section in the Office for Internal Oversight Services of the UN Secretariat, shed some light on peacekeeping missions undertaken by the UN, their brief history, the importance of capacity building, and gender imbalance in the field of peacemaking. He also discussed the evaluation practices undertaken for previous peacekeeping missions.