UN Week Notes: Wednesday

I spent the morning at CGI and meeting with several different people to talk about the MDG summit and what they expected to come out of it.

No one wanted to go on the record, but the general consensus is that the meetings seem like a repeat. There is very little that’s new coming out this week. And while we don’t expect huge new research discoveries or anything, a new perspective or two wouldn’t be too much to ask for. The always brilliant Janet Ginsburg did give me one key piece of advice for interpreting the hype around the MDG Summit: look for what they’re not talking about. So I’ve been keeping my eyes open for that. One thing she pointed out is that the only water mentioned in the MDGs is drinking water, which ignores the other major use of water: irrigation.

After lunch I headed over to the Mashable Digital Media Lounge. I watched the live broadcast of Ban Ki Moon’s big announcement about the new global strategy for women and children’s health. He has commitments of 40 billion dollars from governments and private donors to back up the strategy.

I find myself very tired of linking women and children together in health approaches, but an additional 40 billion dollars is all to the good. I am a little suspicious. Often these kinds of commitments are just rehashes of money that would have been provided anyway (see Obama Global Health Initiative, Gates Foundation vaccine funding). Oxfam shares my skepticism about the money for the strategy, by the way, and also estimates that we really need more like 80 billion. I also heard from someone in the know that the team charged with overseeing the global strategy for women and children’s health is scrambling to figure out how to measure all of the things they have promised to do.

Also interesting: inclusion of Paul Kagame in the Every Woman, Every Child speaker’s roster.

The other big highlight of the day was the Millennium Promise Reception, a fancy shindig at the plaza hotel to “celebrate the leadership of Ban Ki-Moon, the MDG advocates and Champions, and innovators who are guiding breakthroughs for the Goals around the world.” (If you’re thinking that sentence makes no sense, I agree.) It was a little disconcerting to go to a lavish event at a luxury hotel to talk about extreme poverty.

But the purpose of the event was to get pledges from people to support the MDGs. And I guess you need rich people in their comfort zone if you want them to do that. It was a big deal event – Bob Geldorf spoke, and quoted Goethe. They started collecting MDG pledges at the reception. There are eighty so far, and some of them are big.

I don’t really have thoughts about the reception yet. I ran into several ex-colleagues and waited in the rain for 20 minutes for a bus to get back to my hotel, but that’s not really relevant.

Disclosure: I attended UN Week as an Oxfam VOICE, which funded my trip as part of an effort to increase awareness of the MDGs.


photo credit: Mr Azed

It was the only picture I could find of Bob Geldorf on flickr that was cc licensed