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  • Jamaica has made steady progress in achieving several of the United Nations (UN) Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
  • Jamaica is faring better than many other countries in meeting the targets.
  • The MDGs are eight international development goals that UN member states have committed to achieving by 2015.

Jamaica has made steady progress in achieving several of the United Nations (UN) Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and is faring better than many other countries in meeting the targets.

This is according to Senior Research Fellow at the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies (SALISES), University of the West Indies (UWI), Dr. Michael Witter. He was speaking at a National Consultation on ‘Localizing the Post-2015 Development Agenda’ at the UWI’s Mona campus in St. Andrew on Wednesday, July 16.

“We have a tendency to be hard on ourselves here in Jamaica. But if you were to look at the reports from all the countries, we aren’t doing so bad. We have made a lot more progress than many other countries,” Dr.  Witter argued.

The MDGs are eight international development goals that UN member states have committed to achieving by 2015. These goals, which were established following the adoption of the UN Millennium Declaration in 2000, are to: reduce extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and empower women; reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability; and develop a global partnership for development.

Dr. Witter noted that in 2009, the Government of Jamaica did its own assessment of the progress the country has made in achieving the MDGs and it was determined that universal primary education access has been achieved.

Jamaica is also on track in combating HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases and has also made much progress in eradicating extreme poverty and hunger.

With less than 600 days remaining to attain the MDGs, Mr. Witter said there is agreement that “member states …will (not) achieve them by 2015”.

He said the UN has identified a number of reasons why the MDGs will not be reached by 2015, one of which is “the question as to whether or not there was sufficient buy-in at the local level.”

It is for this reason that the UN Development Group, since 2012, has been spearheading a multi-stakeholder outreach dubbed: ‘Localizing the Post-2015 Agenda’ to engage people in shaping the future development agenda that will build on the MDGs after 2015. The consultations, being held in countries around the world, aim to improve the chances of the next set of development goals being implemented.

The Jamaican consultations involve collaboration with the Government, targetting local government authorities, community-based organizations, civil society organizations, the private sector and other groups engaged in development.

Importantly, the discussion sessions seek to give a voice to ‘voiceless’ Jamaicans to give their  input on how the new development agenda will be developed and executed, and gather feedback on strategies for implementing the new development targets.

Four fora have been held over the last three weeks at venues in Kingston, Mandeville, Morant Bay, and Montego Bay, culminating in the national consultation at UWI.

Resident Representative of the UNDP, Dr. Arun Kashyap said the national consultation provides Jamaica an opportunity to “play a leadership role in the global discussion on what we do after 2015, with less than 600 days left and then how do we proceed from there.”

Mayor of May Pen, Councillor Scean Barnswell also welcomed the forum, which he said, is important not only to the country, “but in terms of moving the country forward in the right direction and also to link it back to the 2030 Vision (National Development Plan)”.

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