MDGs+ Agenda in Russia
UNDP Country Office serves as coordinator of all UN development activities in the country. UN work is focused on supporting countries in achieving the so called Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – a set of concrete goals and targets in priority areas of poverty reduction, health, education, environment, human rights and partnership, adopted by the world leaders at the UN Millennium Summit in 2000. In Russia, as in some other middle-income countries, internationally accepted MDGs need to be customized to better fit the country-specific context.
The concept of MDGs was adapted for Russia in 2005 in the Human Development Report, Russia in 2015: Development Goals and Policy Priorities. The so-called MDGs+ Agenda was formulated. The report analyzed human development in the country through the prism of MDGs. Many things have changed during the past 5 years at the national and international level. The National Human Development Report for 2010, entitled Millennium Development Goals in Russia: looking into the Future, reflects the impact of these changes on the process of the achievement of MDGs and human development.
Millennium Development Goals in Russia: looking into the future
The Russian Federation is progressing well in terms of poverty reduction, providing access to education, reduction of child and maternal mortality and strengthening its position as an international donor. On the other hand, there are a number of problems, which have to be tackled in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the year 2015. Such a conclusion has been made in the Millennium Development Goals in Russia: looking into the Future , which UNDP presented on 22 October 2010.
The main goal of the Report is to monitor progress towards achievement of the MDGs adapted for Russia and analyze the impact of recent social and economic trends on MDGs implementation. The preparation of the Report coincided with the discussion of global progress towards achievement of MDGs at the regular session of the UN General Assembly in September 2010.
The first chapter of the report on ‘Seeking a Long-term Strategy for Russia’ notes that achievement of macroeconomic and political stability at the beginning of the 21st century resulted in the revival of interest towards long-term social and economic development issues. The crisis sharpened the issues of the necessity for complex modernization and innovational development, which made the visioning in long-term perspective even more topical. The MDGs may serve as a tool for medium- and long-term planning, measuring the level of the country’s development and helping solve certain issues, for instance, increasing budget efficiency.
The chapter, ‘Poverty, economic growth and the crisis in Russia in the first decade of the 21st century’ (MDG 1), points to the reduction of poverty level to economic growth. Increasing real wages and pensions lifted many so-called ‘working poor’ and pensioners above the poverty line. Nevertheless, the existing social support system lacks mechanisms to prevent the revival of such form of poverty, when economic situation worsens, as was seen in the 2008 crisis. Complete elimination of extreme poverty will only be guaranteed when and if targeted anti-poverty programmes are developed.
Educational challenges are reviewed in the chapter, ‘Russian education in the context of the UN MDG: current situation, problems, and perspectives’ (MDG 2). Russia looks very successful when measured by global education MDGs. However, it also has to be considered to what extent the educational system contributed to reducing social inequality and increasing public wealth. In this context, the focus shifts from accessibility indicators towards indicators of education quality and equal access to high-quality education.
Specifics of Russia’s gender status required development of special MDG targets to alleviate both male and female gender problems. These problems and solutions are addressed in the chapteron ‘Promoting gender equality and empowerment of women’ (MDG 3). The male population is affected by very low life expectancy, declining education level, and high employment rates under hazardous working conditions. At the same time, the Report points to discrimination against women in labour relations, lack of a satisfactory mechanism for protecting women from violence, and prevalence of traditional gender roles.
The central issues of the chapter entitled ‘Reduction of child mortality and better maternal care, evaluating health care priorities for Russia’ (MDG 4 and 5) are related to early infant mortality., which is an important indicators of public healthcare status. The reduction of perinatal mortality, which accounts for the majority of mortalities among children under five in Russia, will significantly contribute to fulfilling MDG 4. A positive tendency is the reduction of maternal mortality, and by 2020 Russia may reach the level registered in European Union. The chapter stresses the necessity to pay special attention to health of economically active population.
As stated in Chapter 6, ‘Combat HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases’ (MDG 6), MDG 6 is mostly oriented on combating HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis which are the two main causes of global demographic losses and have very negative effect on the economy. No dramatic breakthrough in the fight against HIV has been achieved in Russia, and the mortality rate is growing. The main epidemiological parameters for tuberculosis have stabilized. However, the governmental support of existing public health infrastructure, which very often doesn't reflect a new epidemiological situation, remain an issue in both cases.
The title of Chapter 7 and of the corresponding MDG is ‘Environmental sustainability’ (MDG 7). The last few years have shown growing dependence of well-being of humanity on changeover to environmentally sustainable development. This requires reducing human impact on environment and improvement of environmental conditions for human development. Russia is the world's biggest environmental donor, and therefore sustainable environmental development of the country is of crucial importance for the whole mankind. One of the key issues for Russia is inefficient use and depletion of energy resources.
As stated in the Chapter 8, ‘Developing a global development partnership’ (MDG 8), Russia has in the past few years restored its status of the world economic and financial power and proved its right to be among the world's leading countries. MDG 8 calls on the international community to seek joint universal solutions to meet the needs of least developed countries. Russia’s main policy goals in this field have been defined in the Concept for Participation in International Development Assistance and based on MDGs. The expenditures for development assistance reached US$ 220 million in 2008.
Chapter 9, ‘Millennium Development Goals and Russian regions’, offers the analysis of regional trends. Rapid economic growth in the 2000s and increased financial capabilities of the state enabled a more even spread of positive social changes between Russia’s regions. Both developed and more problematic regions have improved the index of income deficit, indicators of infant, maternal and child mortality, etc. However, almost all of the regions demonstrate increased income polarization and a decrease in the income of the poorest 20% of the population. As a result of crisis, the growth of Human Development Index (HDI) has slowed down or stagnated in many regions of Russia as compared with2007.
Thereby, trends in MDGs achievement in Russia are mixed, and one of the key challenges is ensuring sustainability of current positive trends. As it was noted by Frode Mauring, UNDP Resident Representative in Russia, in his address to the readers of the Report, ”We hope that the Report will not only stimulate discussion of the MDGs and Russia’s role in global development among expert community and a broader public but also provide a basis for strategic decisions to strengthen human development at both federal and regional levels.”