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|UPF's Statement about the Millennium Development Goals|
|By Dr. Thomas G. Walsh, Secretary General, UPF|
|Friday, September 07, 2007|
The significance of civil society in the effort to solve critical global problems and improve the overall quality of life for humanity is now widely recognized. Civil society organizations, NGOs, private sector philanthropists, voluntary associations, and faith-based organizations can all serve as partners with governments and inter-governmental organizations.
We live at a time when power is increasingly de-centralized and dispersed. Both state actors and non-state actors are essential in the search for peace and human development. This also applies to the effort to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
Our concept or definition of development needs to be understood comprehensively and should include non-traditional components that complement the social, political, and economic components. There needs to be an appreciation of the complementary and interdependent relationship that must exist between the internal and external aspects of development.
Here are some non-traditional components:
Virtues: the concept of virtues expands the idea of development to include moral development. While we may want to insist that moral development can only become a focus once economic development is secured, in reality the two are inextricably related. Virtues such as honesty, generosity, courage, fortitude and empathy are core strengths or capacities that are needed in order for a social system to function well and result in political, social and economic development. There is a correlation, for example, between moral weakness and corruption.
Relationship skills development: at the core of all human endeavors are human relationships. The quality of human relationships is essential to development, not only in the sense of “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” but also in the sense of having social skills to work collaboratively, cooperatively and constructively with others.
Strengthening marriage and family: marriage and family are universal values held dear and sacred by virtually all human civilizations throughout history. The qualities of family life, parenting and husband-wife relationships are relevant to human development. There are strong and high correlations between stable, constructive marriage and the improvement of life opportunities and capacities for children: high educational accomplishment, lower crime, higher probability of transitioning into a stable career, greater mental health and self-esteem factors.
Partnerships with faith-based organizations: religion and faith-based organizations can be strong allies in the effort to achieve MDGs, from HIV/AIDS prevention, to empowerment of women, to maternal health, to primary school education, etc. Religions are dedicated to human well-being.
Leadership and good governance training: the quality of leadership and governance in nations, in religions, in NGOs and in the private sector is essential to achievement of the MDGs. Raising awareness about MDGs needs to be combined with programs that offer training in leadership and good governance. Furthermore, leadership and good governance training needs not only to focus on factors such as transparency, accountability, responsibility, etc., but also give attention to universal values and a vision of peace for the whole human family.
Moral and spiritual vision: the inability to solve core human problems is related in important ways to the human will and determination to change and transform our world. In order to foster change, there must be a vision, rooted in universal moral and spiritual values, that inspires service—activism that is not merely for a particular nationality, religion, race, ethnicity, etc., but for the whole human family. Most human beings affirm the existence of a higher power, divine order, or personal and benevolent God, who cares for human beings and forms the foundation of their worldviews. This affirmation should be treated with great respect.
Peacebuilding: conflict, disharmony, hostility between peoples, tribes, nations, religions and ethnicities are devastating, undermining the best efforts for human development. Human development needs to be seen in relationship to peacebuilding and a broadened vision of human security. For human development to occur, we must work to end the destructive force of conflict and disharmony among peoples.
These recommendations are not stated as substitutes or replacements for other efforts on the part of governments and civil society, but rather as complements to these other efforts.