Do UN Global Development Goals Matter to the United States?

The UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are an effective tool for rallying resources for and attention to priority development issues worldwide. While other donors and many developing countries explicitly use the goals as an organizing framework for foreign assistance delivery and application, they have had less effect on U.S. global health policy. The goals sometimes played a behind the scenes role in U.S. funding decisions, but U.S. programs have retained their own identities—most recently, for example, Feed the Future, AIDS-Free Generation, and the Child Survival Call to Action—rather than joining in campaigns around specific MDGs. Nonetheless, U.S. development assistance feeds into progress on the MDGs, including goals 1 and 4 through 6, as they reflect long-standing U.S. commitments to food security, maternal and child health, and combating infectious diseases. As the process gets under way to develop successor goals to the MDGs, U.S. involvement is critical to ensure UN goals continue to reflect U.S. strategies, to generate U.S. input into the future development agenda, and to foster political buy-in into growing development needs that are likely to go beyond traditional U.S. priorities.

Nellie Bristol
Senior Associate (Non-resident), Global Health Policy Center