Poverty-oriented development policy beyond the Millennium Development Goals 

With 2015 fast approaching, a sense of disenchantment is growing in some circles as many working towards the high-profile Millennium Development Goals realise how far out of reach they remain. Disillusionment is already giving way to critical reflection, however, and the contours of a new critical discourse on global poverty and development are beginning to emerge. Diverse groups have begun questioning implicit norms and assumptions that underpin the MDGs. Critics see the first goal in particular – to “reduce by half the proportion of people living on less than a dollar a day” – as subtly enforcing a mainstream view of poverty couched in ideals of global capitalism and market growth. An NCCR North-South working group is examining the emerging critical debates, which are likely to shape development policy and interventions for years to come. The working group seeks to generate an overview of the debates within a range of specific countries, particularly those in the global South. The overview will define core dimensions that characterise these debates, and critically assess them in light of NCCR North-South research findings. This will help enable recommendations for a post-2015 development agenda based on differentiated experiences and understandings – globally and locally – of poverty, poverty alleviation, and well-being.

Research Project Co-leaders


Urs Geiser
Development Study Group (DSGZ)

Zurich, Switzerland

Didier Péclard

Bern, Switzerland

Country Reviews

Initial Country Papers review the ongoing debates regarding MDGs in selected countries. Those published to date are:

Millennium Development Goal 1 (Poverty Reduction) and the Swiss Debate on Development Assistance, NCCR North-South Dialogue No. 30 by Bernd Steimann

The Millennium Development Goals and the Global (Northern) Poverty Debate. A Short Review of Praise, Critique and Ways Forward, NCCR North-South Dialogue No. 31 by Bernd Steimann

Miles to Go Before We Sleep: Poverty and the Millennium Development Goals in Nepal, NCCR North-South Dialogue No. 35 by Sagar Raj Sharma

India and the Millennium Development Goals: Progress and Challenges, NCCR North-South Dialogue No. 38 by R. Ramakumar

The MDGs in Bolivia: Poverty Reduction in a Post-neoliberal Area, NCCR North-South Dialogue No. 43 by Stephan Rist, José Nuñez del Prado 

Eradicating Extreme Poverty and Hunger in Ethiopia: A Review of Development Strategies, Achievements, and Challenges in Relation with MDG1, NCCR North-South Dialogue No. 45 by Aklilu Amsalu

Côte d’Ivoire: State-driven Poverty Reduction in a Context of Crisis—Navigating Between MDG Constraints and Debt Relief, NCCR North-South Dialogue No. 46 by Francis Akindès