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Heaven or Hubris: Reflections on the New 'New Poverty Agenda'

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Written by Simon Maxwell

A new construction on poverty reduction links the Millennium Development Goals, an international consensus on how to reduce poverty, Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers, a new set of instruments for delivering aid, and, underpinning the others, results–based management. This new construction has undoubted strengths. There are also cross–cutting risks, that targets will oversimplify, citizenship will be neglected, trade–offs and conflicts of interest will be obscured, macro–economic policy will be neglected, social sectors will be emphasised at the expense of growth policies, and commitment to partnership will degrade into a form of covert conditionality. These risks are not immutable. A way forward is proposed, with a list of six principles and a set of Dos and Don'ts.

Simon Maxwell