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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

MDG 2015 – Areas that need to be addressed: Point #2

Point 2: Is the Millennium Project sustainable?
By this question I don’t sustainable as in the new catch phrase of the decade, but rather will the project be self-sustaining? Another way to phrase the question would be “are we giving the Millennium Villages fish, or are we teaching them how to fish?” If we’re giving them fish, then obviously it will not be self-sustaining, but if the Millennium Villages are being taught how to fish, then that would ensure a level of self-sustenance after the initial helping hand has been taken away.

The issue then becomes how can we determine if the Millennium Project is sustainable. Any real estate developer will tell you that in approaching a bank for funds to develop any project regardless of the size, one document that the bank looks for is a basic 5 – 10 year pro-forma which outlines all the various components of the project and how the funds will be used, and also define all the areas where the developer intends to make a profit in order to be able to repay the bank with interest.

The interesting thing to note is that it is very difficult to develop a pro-forma document of any kind without first having a master plan in place (read the previous post). The value of having a master plan when it comes to the pro-forma document is that the developer will have an idea of total square footage of the project, in addition to typical construction costs of such buildings. The master plan will outline how many buildings are needed and where these buildings are being constructed. All these factors will go into determining the hard costs of the project.

Next will be the occupants of the building. What are the buildings being proposed, who will occupy the buildings, and how will the occupants pay to use the building? For a project such as the Millennium Development Goals, most of these buildings may have to function as non-profit hospitals, schools, low-income housing, etc. So the question is how can the Millennium Villages afford to sustain the buildings in the long term? There needs to be a document that outlines all these self-sustaining issues, or at least be addressed. I don’t think any country should use donations from developed nations or the countries of the west as a long-term financial solution. That is in essence “giving them fish and NOT teaching them how to fish.”

If such a document exists and these issues have been addressed, it would be a great benefit to have access to such documents for any locations not among the Millennium Villages who may want to take the initiative of creating positive changes in the communities to get a head start with a solid foundation based on the Millennium Villages research.

I would strongly urge the members of the Millennium Project to consider the points I’ve made in these articles, and to also think about more transparency in the project if these issues have already been addressed and the Millennium Villages have corresponding master plans and documents that indicate the project will in-fact be self-sustaining once the United Nations team is out of the picture. I look forward to any future questions or comments from interested individuals with regard to any of the articles related to the Millennium Development Goals of 2015.

For more information on the Millennium Project, the Millennium Development Goals, or the Millennium Villages, please take a look at the Columbia Earth Institute’s website as they have been working tirelessly to assist and work with the United Nations in all initiatives to bring about positive change to developing nations.