There we go again!
I have just done another post on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), pleading that the core issues they promote be given due prominence than simple brand promotion for MDGs and their promoters-cum-custodians (the UN).
For my readers outside the charmed development circles, MDGs are an international blueprint for human development, with eight major goals to be achieved by 2015. These goals are the means of implementing the Millennium Declaration — to which 189 governments committed at the UN Millennium Summit held in 2000.
One way to ensure the governments will keep their promise is to turn media spotlight on them. Journalists and media managers have a key role to play in this process.
With this in mind, our friends at the Asia Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development (AIBD) have launched the Asia Pacific MDG Media Awards to ‘recognise and honour the best media reporting on the MDGs’. They have the backing of two UN agencies (UNDP and UNESCAP) and the Asian Development Bank. The deadline for applications is 15 April 2007.
All this is well and good — except that the rules of the award scheme are a bit self-limiting. There’s one that I’ve only just noticed: “Reference to the MDGs (whether one or all MDG Goals) in your content is mandatory.”
This places wrong emphasis on MDG branding when it should be on the actual issues. MDGs are not another slogan for spin doctors at UN agencies to play around with for a few years until the next development fad comes along.
MDGs are about human dignity and social justice to the half of humanity that currently lives in poverty, squalor and deprivation. It is these real world people who lose their babies to preventable childhood diseases; drop out of school because they cannot afford to stay on; die needlessly in their millions during pregnancy or childbirth; or go to bed hungry every night.
In that bigger scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter whether justice is delivered through strategies, programmes and projects labelled ABC, XYZ, MDG or something else.
Besides, MDGs are a means to an end. The process is important, but branding is not, on that journey.
Half way along the way — to the agreed target of 2015 — an informed and motivated media can help countries and development players to remain focused.
By all means, reward good journalistic coverage of development and social justice issues underscored by the MDGs. But please, let’s not turn this into another round of simple publicity and self-promotion for UN agencies.