Goal 8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development
The eighth goal formulated by the United Nations in 2000 as part of the Millennium Development Goals revolves around “global partnership”, which in the light of recent events and the current state of the world is vital but admittedly more out of reach than ever.
A word that has filled the airwaves in every possible language in recent times, but that has always been popular in the world of development aid is:
It is a word that fills the rhetoric of every local community leader you will ever meet as it stands for unity and a willingness to help. In the case of the MDG’s we did not only require solidarity within communities but more even between countries, cultures and economies.
According to the United Nation’s reports on this specific development goal bilateral aid to the least developed countries fell 16 per cent in 2014 and 79 per cent of imports from developing countries enter developed countries duty-free”. Some solidarity, ey?
A word that often accompanies solidarity in the same local community leaders’ speeches is:I believe a balance between these two terms is crucial and I also believe, now more then ever, that this balance is often completely off.
If the emergence of Daesh has shown me anything, it is that imposing your idea of progress on a nation that a) has not requested it and b) is not ready for it will bite you in the ass sooner or later. Our conviction that every nation needs to be measured by our scale of development is an insult that we have been blind for for far too long.
Jason Hickel, an anthropologist, journalist and writer has challenged the concept of developed vs underdeveloped countries in an article he wrote some months ago about the MDG’s. He challenges the approach we have adopted in our fight against poverty, which is economic growth. The so-called trickle down effect would then, as by magic, lift the people at the bottom of the food chain out of their misery.
It’s quite evident that this model is defective, and holding onto the idea leans on the criminal. All the statistics show that the global economy has grown, yet so has the number of people living in poverty. Hickel explains:
Orthodox economists insist that all we need is yet more growth. More progressive types tell us that we need to shift some of the yields of growth from the richer segments of the population to the poorer ones, evening things out a bit. Neither approach is adequate. Why? Because even at current levels of average global consumption, we’re overshooting our planet’s bio-capacity by more than 50% each year.
In other words, growth isn’t an option any more – we’ve already grown too much. Scientists are now telling us that we’re blowing past planetary boundaries at breakneck speed. And the hard truth is that this global crisis is due almost entirely to overconsumption in rich countries.
Doesn’t that make you want to vomit? How dare we call our standard of living developed? Hickel proposes to actually refer to countries we have considered to be underdeveloped as “appropriately developed” and should subsequently urge rich countries to justify their excesses and perhaps start a de-development program for them.
Colonial countries have used development aid as a ruse, cloaking their guilty conscience and white privilege in morality and good intent. As Hicks puts it in a more recent article:
Meanwhile, Europeans increased their share of global GDP from 20% to 60% during the colonial period. Europe didn’t develop the colonies. The colonies developed Europe.
It is tempting to see [Europe’s colonial past] as just a list of crimes, but it is much more than that. These snippets hint at the contours of a world economic system that was designed over hundreds of years to enrich a small portion of humanity at the expense of the vast majority.
This history makes the narrative of international development seem a bit absurd, and even outright false. Frankie Boyle got it right: “Even our charity is essentially patronising. Give a man a fish and he can eat for a day. Give him a fishing rod and he can feed himself. Alternatively, don’t poison the fishing waters, abduct his great-grandparents into slavery, then turn up 400 years later on your gap year talking a lot of shite about fish.”
The truth is that you can not evaluate MDG #8 without mentioning the world’s biggest threat since the emergence of the Nazis a century ago: the Daesh. It is an evil we can no longer deny or ignore as it is all around us. Moreover, it has put our own morality under the microscope and is now forcing to look ourselves in the mirror and confess to our sins.
The ease with which the extremist cutthroats have been able to redraw the map and lure western born muslims to fight for their cause puts the spotlight on our failures more than it does on their persuasive propaganda machine. As Robert Fisk explained to me some days ago in his article for The Independent, the Arab world was already fed up with the borders we had placed upon them in colonial times. So, when the Daesh drew their own lines in the sand, based upon ancient pre-colonial standards most agreed it was long overdue.
Evaluating this goal and pretending that at some point we really made an effort to create a global partnership on equal terms, with solidarity and sovereignty in place is really a joke. But it’s the kind of joke you want to cry about, not laugh.
At the same time, it may be the most relevant goal of all, if we want to avoid self-destructing any further.