New U.S. Strategy for Meeting the Millennium Development Goals

The Obama administration recently released the U.S. Strategy for Meeting the Millennium Development Goals, a 28-page document that emphasizes innovation, sustainability, and accountability.  After a brief recap of progress achieved to date and the serious challenges ahead, the document outlines the three pillars of the U.S. strategy: innovate, sustain, and make it work.  According to the strategy, innovation can be a “powerful force multiplier,” and can be fostered in many ways: funding research, expanding access to technology, building partnerships, and stimulating innovation through prizes and the like.  The key to ensuring sustainability is found in broad-based economic growth, well-governed institutions, investments in women and girls, sustainable service-delivery systems, and mitigating shocks.  And to make it all work, the U.S. must build the enabling environment through strengthened monitoring & evaluation, accountability, and coordination with other donors.

In order to put these ideas into practice, the strategy promises to “marshal the full range of our development policy instruments.”  This includes pledges to fund innovation, invest in sustainability, and improve accountability.

Many of the initiatives discussed in the strategy are ongoing efforts that the U.S. government has worked on for years.  Some are newer, such as the Feed the Future and the Global Health Initiative.  There is not much news in this new document.

One new and promising initiative in this strategy document is a major aid transparency initiative, where the U.S. government will work with other donors and partner governments to streamline the dissemination of country-level information about aid flows.  If this works as planned, it will make it a lot easier to figure out who is doing what in each country, what money is being spent on which project where, and what the expected and measured results are.

What is missing from this strategy?  Any mention of who is in charge- who will coordinate this government-wide response?  If no one is in charge, there can be no real accountability.  Also, there is no talk of a Global Development Strategy, which is widely recognized as an important step towards greater transparency and accountability.  In general, this strategy is sparse on details, and leaves much to the imagination.

For more commentary on this strategy, see the Devex rundown here.

To read the full strategy document, click here.