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The Third C.D. Deshmukh Memorial Lecture 2015
February 9, 2015

Hotel Claridges, New Delhi

Dr David M. Malone, UN Under-Secretary-General and the Rector of United Nations University delivered NCAER’s C D Deshmukh Memorial Lecture on “From Millennium Development Goals to Sustainable Development Goals” in New Delhi on February 9, 2015. 


The lecture is the third in the series of the C.D. Deshmukh Memorial Lectures, instituted by NCAER in memory of one of India’s most eminent economists and a founding father of NCAER.  Previous lectures in this series have been given by Kaushik Basu in 2013 and Arvind Panagariya in 2014.


The UN is working with governments, civil society and other partners to build on the momentum generated by the MDGs and carry forward the ambitious, post-2015 sustainable development agenda, to be adopted by UN Member States at the Special Summit on Sustainable Development in September 2015. In this lecture, Dr Malone outlined some of the salient features of the SDG process to date and the remaining hurdles to be overcome.


Dr Malone discussed the major shifts changes that have taken place globally since the original Millennium Development Goals were formulated. The developing world has been growing rapidly since the early 2000s, particularly Asia and Africa, with a number of major economies emerging as globally significant, including India and China.  Concerns over risks arising from climate change have escalated dramatically, and considerations of quality of social services rather than just the numbers of those served have increasingly risen on the agenda.   Dr. Malone remarked that unlike MDGs, SDGs are going to be applied to developing and developed countries both, which is a remarkable shift in perspective. Malone highlighted the importance of issues of quality by providing the example of the MDG goal number two on universal primary education, comparing it with the goal of equitable, lifelong and quality education as espoused by SDG goal number four. 


Speaking on the occasion, Mr Nitin Desai, former UN Under-Secretary-General commented, “The difference between MDGs and SDGs is that though the MDGs came out as an afterthought, they were the result of a rich political process among UN member countries that preceded their announcement. With the SDGs, there is going to be less room for negotiating numbers.” Dr. Desai also cautioned about putting in too much faith in the target-oriented approach and looking at targets as the main principles of organizing the developmental efforts. He said that reconciling quantity with quality will be a major policy challenge. 


About Dr David M. Malone is the Rector of United Nations University and Under-Secretary-General of the U.N. Prior to joining the United Nations University in March 2013, Dr David Malone served as President of Canada’s International Development Research Centre, a funding agency that supports policy-relevant research in the developing world. A world renowned expert on international affairs as well as a career diplomat, Dr Malone is also the former president of the International Peace Institute. He served as Canada’s High Commissioner to India, and non-resident Ambassador to Bhutan and Nepal, from 2006–2008. Malone has published extensively on peace and security issues. His most recent books include Nepal in Transition: From People’s War to Fr