Despite their significant achievements, the MDGs have a number of structural shortcomings that have debates among policy makers, academics and citizens over the past two decades. Many critics contend that the goals omitted important systemic and structural issues, such as the environment (specifically climate change), governance (including human rights), the private sector and employment, and many forms of infrastructure (e.g. power and transport). Because of this, the MDGs may have de-emphasised structural enablers for broad-based development and led to an over-concentration of public investment in the social sectors. Other criticisms focus more centrally on how progress is measured and the failure to incorporate aspects of equity, favouring some regions (and groups) and setting up others for failure.
Since 2000, the lack of reliable, timely and accessible data on MDG-related expenditures, outputs and outcomes has been a major challenge to both tracking progress and ensuring that policies and interventions are evidence-based and effective. By way of illustration, citizens have very little access to information about what resources their governments are spending on development related issues – with only 20% of countries publishing sufficient budget information for citizens to make sense of it.