|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fifth General Assembly
5th & 6th Meetings (AM & PM)
Stronger Development Partnership, Better Market Access, Improved Governance Seen
as Vital for Developing Countries to Achieve Millennium Development Goals
Calling for Less Talk and More Concrete Action as 2015 Deadline Looms,
World Leaders Continue Assessment of Efforts to Reach Global Anti-Poverty Targets
As the General Assembly gathered for the second day of its high-level review of progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, presidents, ministers and other officials urged that concrete measures be devised to assist those countries that had fallen behind in the fight against extreme deprivation.
Such measures, many said, must result in more technical and financial assistance, fewer conditions attached to such aid and greater fairness in the global economic system. Others emphasized the need for security, ownership of the Goals by developing countries, and the maximization of both aid and domestic resources, which, in turn, required improved governance.
“We have spoken a lot, but not done enough” to achieve the Goals in the poorest countries before the deadline of 2015, President Dimitris Christofias of Cyprus said at the opening of today’s session of the plenary, which runs through tomorrow and is expected to hear from some 140 high officials on the status of the Millennium Goals. Those targets were agreed by world leaders a decade ago and, among other objectives, aim to cut hunger and extreme poverty in half, provide basic education for children, reduce infant and maternal mortality by two thirds and three quarters, respectively, and reverse the spread of infectious diseases.
As many speakers would do during the day, President Christofias called for a more equitable distribution of global wealth to make more progress, while outlining his own country’s efforts in development cooperation, which had a focus on Goal 6, fighting HIV/AIDS.
Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, President of Liberia, also stressed that inclusive economic growth was needed to achieve the Goals, particularly the kind of growth that created jobs and expanded opportunities for women. She said her country, as a poor nation emerging from conflict, had made appreciable progress through appropriate policies, improved coordination and strong development partnerships.
However, she added, like many developing countries, Liberia faced huge challenges in the areas of infrastructure, capital and human resources in advancing other Goals. For that purpose, the long-promised global development partnership must go beyond aid to support enhancement in trade by the removal of protective tariffs, quotas and other barriers. Her country was working especially hard to develop small- and medium-sized enterprises, as well as its agricultural sector, because those areas had the biggest influence on employment.
Many speakers during the day again reminded donor countries of the commitments they made 10 years ago at the Millennium Summit to increase direct assistance to reach the Goals. In that light, Carolyn Rodriguez-Birkett, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guyana stated that that understanding remained fundamental. While fluctuating financial, political and economic fortunes invariably impacted the timeliness of delivery, they should not diminish the commitment to the poor or reduce the determination to working in partnership.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, however, stressed that official development assistance (ODA) could only contribute to national resources, never substitute for them, and development aid could not continue indefinitely. Countries themselves must promote the development of a market economy, the setting up and expansion of small- and medium-sized enterprises and the strengthening of rural areas.
In that context, she said, Germany saw its role in achieving the Goals as a responsible support of countries’ own efforts and within a broad-based partnership. She cited experience with the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, in which Germany was a leader, but showed that the implementation of the Goals also depended on effective international organizations, particularly the United Nations, for which Germany was the third largest budget contributor.
Some speakers decried political considerations that interfered with development assistance. In that vein, Robert Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe, said that his country had given priority to eradicating poverty and disease, but results were mixed due to what he called “illegal and debilitating sanctions”, and as a result, poverty remained endemic. “Aid delivery and coordination mechanisms must not be hampered by political biases and preferences,” he said.
Similarly, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran said that undemocratic and unjust decision-making structures at the international economic and political levels were behind the desperate plight now facing much of humanity, as capitalism and multinational corporations had caused suffering in many countries.
President Tarja Halonen of Finland, on the other hand, as well as President Sheik Sharif Sheikh Ahmed of Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government, pointed to conflict as a major obstacle to poverty reduction in the poorest countries, with President Sharif pleading for the international community to help free Somalia from terrorism so that it could even begin to pursue the Millennium Development Goals.
Also speaking today were the Heads of State of Hungary, Vanuatu, Slovenia, Grenada, Sierra Leone, Nauru, Rwanda, Dominican Republic, Gabon, Niger, Cameroon and Austria.
The Prime Ministers of Cape Verde, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Trinidad and Tobago, Canada, Jamaica, Mauritania, Haiti, Kuwait and Saint Lucia also spoke.
The Deputy Prime Minister of Cambodia spoke, as did the Foreign Ministers of Pakistan, Cuba, Russian Federation, Mauritius, Benin, Marshall Islands, Equatorial Guinea, Belarus, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Barbados, Eritrea, Myanmar, Armenia, Italy, Poland, Ireland, Djibouti, Uganda,Guinea-Bissau, Chad and Afghanistan.
The Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Syria also spoke, as did the Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The Vice-Presidents of Seychelles and Maldives also addressed the Assembly.
Ministers of Zambia, Burkina Faso, Sudan, Sweden, Nicaragua, Luxembourg, South Africa and Guinea also spoke.
The Secretary of Socio-economic Planning of the Philippines also spoke.
Representatives of San Marino, Venezuela, Bahamas, Egypt, Belize, Suriname and Lithuania also addressed the Assembly.
The Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 22 September, to continue and conclude its high-level meeting on the Millennium Development Goals.
The General Assembly met today to continue its High-level Plenary Meeting on the Millennium Development Goals.
DIMITRIS CHRISTOFIAS, President of Cyprus, said that in the first 10 years “we have spoken a lot, but not done enough” to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. In the next five years, efforts must be intensified to make up for lost ground. Cyprus, though small, was doing its part. CyprusAid, the Development Cooperation Service of his country, aimed at efficient and well-targeted allocation of assistance to maximize the benefit to partner countries. One of the objectives was to strive for universal access to social services and social protection, and reduce inequalities. It channelled assistance more specifically to health care, such as construction of health clinics and donation of ambulances. In the future, it intended to devote more attention to environmental problems created by climate change.
Lacking a project implementation mechanism, for the time being, Cyprus pursued development projects via delegated cooperation – in other words, in close cooperation with European Union partners and development agencies. The projected implementation so far was aimed exclusively to the Goals. He wanted to note the contribution of Cyprus to Millennium Development Goal 6 – on AIDS – through its support of UNITAID, which was an innovative mechanism for the financing of development. He pledged to do everything he could to ensure that Cyprus was an active participant in the collective effort to achieve the Goals, for which it was most important to achieve a more just distribution of global wealth.
TARJA HALONEN, President of Finland, said that the Millennium Declaration was based on the idea that peace and security, development and respect for human rights were interlinked and mutually reinforcing. “This trinity is still true,” she said. A democratic State that respected human rights and the rule of law and applied good governance and social justice provided a solid foundation for the aspirations of its citizens. The activities of non-government organizations were crucial to the achievement of the Millennium Goals and there was strong evidence that common efforts have brought results. The Goals had become an integral part of developing countries’ own national development strategies.
Finland was devoted to the achievement of the Goals and was on track to contributing 0.7 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) for that purpose. Its support was increasingly directed to Africa and she encouraged others to do the same. Empowerment of women was crucial, but the participation of both women and men was needed. Recent declines in maternal mortality showed that the efforts were making a difference. A rights-based approach was particularly important for promoting maternal health and reproductive rights for women. She also strongly supported the newly established UN Women.
Sustainability of development, and the rights of indigenous people was also critical, as were the rights of persons with disabilities and a fair global economic system. There was a strong link between climate change efforts and meeting the Goals, and as part of that effort, her country was looking forward to a fruitful biodiversity meeting tomorrow. She was honoured to co-chair the High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability, together with President Jacob Zuma of South Africa, and was certain it would put forward new ideas in order to meet the challenge. She stated, moreover, that the Goals could only be achieved by the cooperation of developed and developing countries. She recalled co-chairing the Millennium Summit and the spirit of cooperation that reigned then, urging that spirit be continued for the achievement of the Goals.
PÁL SCHMITT, President of Hungary, said that everyone had a right to live a decent life and that was a collective challenge. He strongly advocated a holistic approach towards the Millennium Development Goals, with targeted policies to reach the Goals in which the world was lagging behind, and full policy coherence to accelerate progress. While emphasizing that all the Goals were important and integrally related, he believed that eradicating extreme poverty and hunger could significantly contribute to the fulfilment of the others. A comprehensive approach to food security was essential and sustainable agricultural development based on local resources was a vital element, with an emphasis on rural development, which could reduce urban migration and the build-up of slums.
Water issues were a particular focus of Hungary and water would be one of the main themes of the forthcoming Hungarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union in the first half of 2011, he continued. Further, a sustainable environment and ecosystem provided the preconditions for social and economic well-being. However, global threats to development, climate change above all, posed a burden and had a negative impact on agriculture and food production. Adaptation to climate change, appropriate mitigation measures, prudent use of arable land and water, as well as the halting of biodiversity loss were essential. Further, he was convinced that there could be no sustainable development without improving human resources through education, especially of women and girls in poverty. Women must participate in all areas on an equal footing with men.
As probably the only Olympic gold winner in the General Assembly Hall, he stressed the benefits of sport to health, as well as in teaching determination, fellowship and respect for each other. Special attention also needed to be given to multilingual education, he said, and meeting the global health challenge was another priority. Hungary could contribute greatly in that area through its experience of building a comprehensive health system, including nurses that visit expecting mothers and newborn babies throughout the country. Further, benefiting from scientific progress was a crucial component of meeting the Development Goals. Since 2003, Hungary has organized the biennial World Science Forum, which gave a strategic perspective to the links between science and development and provided a particular focus on the needs of developing counties. “Development is a partnership,” he said. “It is our future that is at stake now,” so it was crucial to work together for a sustainable future.
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, President of Iran, said a prosperous life full of beauty, serenity, amity, moral and spiritual perfection had always been the aspiration of humanity. Yet, the most serious problem of the past millennia had derived from inhumane and infected creeds, accompanied by unfair and cruel management. Undemocratic and unjust decision-making structures at the international economic and political levels were the reason behind most of the plights now facing humanity. Capitalism and transnational corporations had caused suffering in many countries. The International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World had been marred by war, occupation, carnage, wandering and intimidation. Fundamental reform was essential.
A new order would entail two elements: a theoretical basis, and structures and managerial methods, he said. A “divine mindset” was needed, based on a perfectionist and justice-seeking nature of mankind and a monotheistic worldview. Such a mindset would be a guiding principle towards a prosperous social life free of egoisms, hegemonic tendencies and envies. Just and fair governance based on a divine mindset was a perquisite and a guarantor of justice, love and security. Justice could not be upheld, nor prosperity attained, by those unable to control their rage and selfish desires, or by those who did not feel passionate towards others, or by those untouched when the people’s rights were breached or when widespread carnage took place, or by those only mindful of their own interests and selfish, sectarian and materialistic pleasures.
The third millennium ought to be one of a pursuit of a new order based on pure and righteous governance, he said. With capitalism and hegemony facing defeat, all-out participation in upholding justice and prosperous interrelations was essential. Everyone should participate in a coordinated effort to put into place competent governance in centres of world power. Such a great ideal could only be attained through the participation of all nations and States, however. Thus, the second decade of the twenty-first century should be declared “the decade for joint global governance” by the United Nations. That would represent an introduction to the bright destiny promised by God which will occur at the resurrection of the promised one, along with Jesus. Let God be made content by the founding of compassionate coexistence throughout the world.
EDWARD NATAPEI, Prime Minister of Vanuatu, said that leaders of the Pacific Island Forum remained concerned about the pace of progress regarding the Millennium Development Goals. Many of their countries were struggling to achieve the Goals. Pacific island countries faced growing vulnerability in light of the financial, food and fuel crisis and the impact of climate change. The recent Port Vila Declaration recognized the extreme importance of the Goals, but without concerted action, the Declaration was unlikely to succeed. More investment in a variety of sectors was needed.
He drew attention to progress in the Pacific region towards universal primary education; enrolment was high and exceeded 90 per cent in six countries. Much work remained to be done, however, to make economic growth more sustainable, to improve gender equality and to boost technical cooperation and development assistance. The Pacific region was resolute in its commitment and called upon its neighbours in the global village to share in its efforts.
At the national level, Vanuatu had some positive results to report. More personnel and resources had been put into the health sector; the incidence of malaria had stood at 13 per 1,000 in 2009, almost 15 times less than in 1999. He acknowledged the contribution made by non-governmental organizations and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), among others. With strong political leadership at all levels, backed by well-targeted interventions and resources, the Goals could be met.
ELLEN JOHNSON-SIRLEAF, President of Liberia, said that the Millennium Development Goals were universal, but their impact would be the greatest in the world’s poorest nations, such as those in sub-Saharan Africa, including her own. Inclusive economic growth was needed to achieve the Goals, particularly the kind of growth that created jobs and expanded opportunities for women.
Liberia, in spite of unique challenges, had made appreciable progress through appropriate policies, improved coordination and strong development partnerships, particularly on gender equality and women’s empowerment, infant mortality, HIV/AIDS and access to clean drinking water and sanitation. However, the country was facing huge challenges in the areas of infrastructure, capital and human resources in advancing other Goals. For that purpose, its global partnership must go beyond aid to support enhancement in trade by the removal of trade barriers.
Investing in agriculture, small-scale enterprises and infrastructure, she said, would help progress across all the Goals. Her country was working especially hard to develop small and medium-sized enterprises, because they had the biggest influence on employment. Investment in human capacity and strengthening public and private institutions was also critical for that purpose, as was aligning all measures with people’s priorities for a prosperous and independent future.
DANILO TÜRK, President of Slovenia, said that the level of achievement of the Millennium Development Goals today was a mixed story. “But a mixed story is a story of success, partial at least.” Some parts of the world, including recently, Africa, had experienced relatively high – and in some cases very high levels of growth. In the global North, where growth had been high in the past, one could see the phenomenon of saturation and the need to measure development by factors unrelated to the growth of the gross national product.
Mr. Turk called for focus to be placed on the poverty stricken parts of the world, where gradual improvement had been observed. It was significant that in many parts of the developing world, longevity had risen and the incidence of AIDS had declined. The levels of primary school enrolment had been improved and new information technologies had provided additional opportunities for education. While the list of successes was significant, important policy challenges remained. Country ownership and leadership in policy design and implementation needed to be respected. Internationally organized budget support and official development assistance (ODA) could be made most effective on that basis.
The Millennium Development Goals provided a useful methodological framework for the purpose of policymaking and a bold, yet realistic time horizon, he said. It was for national Governments to set the priorities for their respective countries. They were the ones to decide on the needed measures to ensure better food security and basic health care for the population, safer water, improved sanitation, better education. Yet, while Governments were responsible for basic policies, they needed effective international cooperation, including modernized international financial institutions.
TILLMAN THOMAS, Prime Minister of Grenada, said that since the Millennium Declaration, there had been many initiatives to address the human development needs of his country. The thrust of the country’s 2000 budget under the theme “Growth, Equity and People’s Participation in the New Millennium” initiated a number of programmes aimed at improving and monitoring living conditions. The results of a poverty assessment for the year 1998 had indicated that 32.1 per cent of the people were living in poverty. Ten years later, in 2008, that figure had increased to 37.7 per cent. Those results further informed the Government policies and plans for investment in the social sector and for the mainstreaming of the Millennium Development Goals into its national development framework. Grenada viewed the Millennium Development Goals as an integral tool for measuring national performance.
Grenada was strongly committed to integrating the principles of sustainable development into its policies and programmes, he continued. That commitment was reflected in its National Environmental Policy and Management Strategy, the country’s draft Management and Sustainable Development Bill and the institutionalization of its Sustainable Development Council. This week marked the twentieth anniversary of the founding of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS). As Chair of the AOSIS, Grenada wished to thank all the partners who had supported that organization in the past and were now committed to enhancing that support.
In order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, there was a dire need to build global partnerships, he said. Grenada was considered a middle-income country with a high level of human development and had been ranked seventy-fourth out of 182 countries in the 2009 Human Development Report. While such ratings highlighted progress made by the country, they tended to mask the country’s vulnerabilities, which were multidimensional in nature. He called on the United Nations to assist developing countries in strengthening the institutional capacity necessary for mainstreaming and monitoring the Millennium Development Goals, saying that, by doing so, the international community would be closer to achieving the Goals by 2015.
ANGELA MERKEL, Chancellor of Germany, said that sustainable progress on development required that all four challenges of the Millennium Declaration be addressed together. There was “no development without security and no security without development — this mutual dependence we see everywhere”. Noting that progress in achieving the Goals was lagging in some areas, she said that development policy instruments must be improved and better oriented towards results, combined with more leeway for national policies, as the primary responsibility for development lay with national Governments. Support for good governance was, therefore, critical.
In that light, she stressed that ODA funding could only contribute to national resources, never substitute for them, and development aid could not continue indefinitely, so limited resources should be used as effectively as possible. Countries themselves must promote the development of a market economy, the setting up and expansion of small and medium enterprises and the strengthening of rural areas.
In that context, she said, Germany saw its role as a responsible support of countries’ own efforts and within a broad-based partnership. She cited experience in the Global Fund to fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, in which Germany was a leader, but showed that the implementation of the Goals also depended on effective international organizations, particularly the United Nations, for which Germany was the third largest budget contributor.
ROBERT MUGABE, President of Zimbabwe, said that, despite progress in some areas, the remaining challenges were serious and many. Zimbabwe had given priority to eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, promoting gender equality and empowering women, and combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other illnesses. Results have been mixed, however, due to illegal and debilitating sanctions which had been imposed on Zimbabwe; as a result, the incidence of poverty remains high. That was regrettable given that Zimbabwe has a stable economic and political environment. With the right kind of support from the international community, Zimbabwe had the potential to improve the lives of its people.
Zimbabwe has the highest literacy rate in Africa, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and it is set to reach gender parity in school enrolment, he said. But it has been lagging in regard to gender equality in decision-making in all sectors by 2015. Significant progress has been seen in lowering the estimated prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS among adults aged 15-49 to 14.3 per cent in 2009, despite a lack of support from the international community. Efforts by the Government to provide clean water, decent sanitation and shelter for urban and rural dwellers have also suffered due to illegal sanctions imposed by some Western countries. Zimbabwe remained convinced that the Millennium Development Goals are achievable; what was needed was a political commitment, particularly on the part of developed countries. “Aid delivery and coordination mechanisms must not be hampered by political biases and preferences,” he said.
DANNY FAURE, Vice-President of Seychelles said that, while taking stock of their individual achievements, countries also needed to address the systemic issues that would allow them to not only reach the Millennium targets they had set but also to improve on them. While well on its way towards achieving the targets laid out in the Goals, Seychelles today faced a development paradox: since the early 1990s, the country’s rapid progress, coupled with its small population, meant that it exceeded the GDP per capita criteria to benefit from development assistance and affordable credit. Thus, to sustain its development, Seychelles borrowed heavily at commercial rates which led to a debt crisis.
“We are now faced with the question of how we finance the next phase of our development,” he said, adding that small islands were too developed to benefit from concessions offered least developed countries, and not developed enough to benefit from the advantages of first world status. In that “middle income trap” small island Governments often felt there was no way out; the status quo became the best case scenario, while regression was a real possibility. Moreover, he said globalization had lead to the increased marginalization of small island developing States “and we need to have formal recognition of [those islands] as a development category by the United Nations and the Bretton Woods institutions”.
The sustainability of the planet depended on the ability to bridge the gap created by the difficulty or reluctance of countries, corporations and individuals to meet commitments on financing for development, he continued. It also depended on island nations’ ability to mobilize “green financing” to make environmentally friendly technology available to those of whom the latest technology remained financially prohibitive. Climate change was of especially grave concern to all island States, because as much of the funding allocated to cope with that phenomenon was being funnelled through traditional ODA channels, many middle income small island developing States were again excluded. As such, he felt there was need to ensure that financing to adapt to climate change was properly channelled and did not simply mean continuation of existing inadequate arrangements.
MAKHDOOM SHAH MAHMOOD QURESHI, Foreign Minister of Pakistan, noted that the most recent report on the Millennium Development Goals published by his country’s Government had revealed less than promising short-to-medium-term prospects for achieving those targets at home. Pakistan, in particular, witnessed two substantial setbacks due to the security challenges posed by terrorism and unprecedented floods, which would require billions of dollars for reconstruction and rehabilitation.
Despite a confluence of difficult events at the global and local levels, the Millennium Goals remained the centrepiece of the Government’s efforts, he said, noting that they had formed an integral part of the country’s Medium-Term Development Framework. Focus was given to pro-poor growth with better fiscal and monetary discipline, targeting agriculture and the rural economy while ensuring participation of people in decision making at all levels. Also central to the Framework was bringing the poor and vulnerable into the mainstream of development and promoting empowerment of women and minorities. Pakistan would also leverage its geographic location to pursue peace and forge bilateral and regional economic partnerships.
Several initiatives had been implemented within that context, he continued, highlighting for example, that 3 million poor female-headed households benefited from cash transfers to meet basic needs. Also, an Employment Commission had been established, and youths were gaining skills for participation in the development process under an education policy and reforms programme. The Government gave high priority to environmental sustainability, he stated, but Pakistan would require greater support from the international community to meet that challenge.
BRUNO RODRÍGUEZ PARRILLA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cuba, said that in his country, the Goals identified in the Millennium Declaration had been almost totally accomplished, and in some cases their attainment had been broadly exceeded. Cuba’s commitment went beyond its national borders and had enabled it to contribute to the social development of other developing countries. That had been the direct result of a revolution whose priority was the well-being of the Cuban people in a climate of equity and social justice. It was also a success achieved despite the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed on the Cuban people for more than half a century by the United States Government.
Noting the high rates attained by Venezuela, the significant results shown by Bolivia, Nicaragua and Ecuador, and the progress made by Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member States and Brazil, he stated that that progress had not depended on international assistance by developed countries. Such assistance had been almost non-existent. Neither had the progress depended on positive change in the global economic order, as that order continued to be an extremely unjust and plundering order that benefited rich countries. Unequal exchange had continued to grow; ODA had contracted in real terms; technology transfer continued to be very limited and highly conditioned; markets of the most advanced economies could not be easily accessed by poor countries’ exports; foreign debt had been paid several times but was multiplying; and the financial deregulation and corruption in developed countries had caused global crisis with especially negative consequences for the underdeveloped economies.
It was a shame to note that the number of persons living in extreme poverty had increased by some 36 million between 1990 and 2005, he said. The lack of solutions to the most serious development problems and sufferings of the billions of persons living in poverty and underdevelopment would also affect the industrialized societies where unemployment was now on the rise and brutal migration policies were expanding. The problem would knock on the doors of all countries, whether through uncontrolled and unmanageable migration flows, by way of diseases and epidemics, as a result of conflicts generated by poverty and hunger, or as a result of unforeseen events. The United Nations would be betraying its very essence if it did not become aware of that reality and act now.
SERGEY LAVROV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, said his country was committed to international development cooperation and was ready to intensify constructive interaction with a wide range of partners, including the private sector and civil society, to ensure the timely achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, believing that sustainable development was a crucial element of a modern collective security system.
For that reason, he said, his country was continuously increasing its international cooperation, reaching around $800 million in 2009, and having a particular focus on assisting the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) region, including the creation of the EURASEC Anti-Crisis Fund. He called on Member States to support the draft resolution on cooperation between the United Nations and that Fund to be presented to the upcoming General Assembly.
His country, he said, intended to continue to pursue such efforts in Africa and other poor regions as well, and was ready to more efficiently engage scientific capacities and advanced technologies to promote global development, particularly in the area of disaster mitigation. In that regard, he looked forward to working with all partners to elaborate the environmental risks insurance fund proposed by his President. He also expressed serious concern over “unilateral coercive measures” imposed on developing countries.
ARVIN BOOLELL, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mauritius, said that for the Goals to be achieved, a holistic approach was needed, involving Government, civil society, non-governmental organizations, charities and foundations, and the private sector. Mauritius had made significant progress on most of the Goals, thanks to sustained efforts and correct policy mixes by successive Governments and the support of development partners. Much emphasis has been put on social welfare, education and health; 58 per cent of the national budget was spent on community and social services, and the enrolment rate in primary education stood at 97 per cent.
Mauritians had access to free medical care, including open-heart surgery and laser eye treatment; the country also had one of the lowest infant and maternal mortality rates in Africa. More women had gone into business, and there were more women in the higher levels of the public sector and judiciary. Various projects undertaken to combat extreme poverty had produced very good results. As a small island developing State, Mauritius had to deal with geographical isolation, limited resources, natural disasters and the impact of climate change, yet it had attained its environmental protection targets and the Government was conscious of the need to ensure development, without compromising the quality of life for future generations. Recalling the role of the United Nations in addressing the economic crisis, he said it was important to remain focused on issues of concern to developing countries, including migrant-worker remittances, labour migration and international debt cooperation, and reform of the Bretton Woods institutions.
JEAN-MARIE EHOUZOU, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Benin, said that civilization was in the throes of a profound crisis of inequity, with billions of people living in abject poverty despite the resources and know-how to eradicate such suffering. That situation was unacceptable. With developing countries facing a range of new crises, two decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall, a new wall had been erected between the North and the South, which threatened the international system. That wall could be torn down if the will existed to redefine priorities, bring about justice and exercise solidarity.
In Benin, assessments had established that most of the Millennium Development Goals would be difficult to attain by 2015 if current trends continued. Even so, progress had been achieved by projects in a number of sectors, stemming from microfinancing and other significant support but above all through the involvement of communities which only ask for support. Projects emphasizing agricultural entrepreneurship were particularly effective. However, education and rural development required triple the investment now directed to those sectors if the Goals were to be achieved in those areas. Greater cooperation partnership, along with more effective governance by developing countries, was, therefore, needed, while it was clear that conditionality of aid was counterproductive.
JOHN SILK, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Marshall Islands, noting that much remains to be done by the Government and its international partners, said the Cabinet had endorsed a national development plan in which progress towards the Millennium Development Goals was embedded. Progress had been made on improving access to education and improving maternal health and child welfare. But, while the Marshall Islands had avoided dire poverty, general hardship and hunger had been worsening. Violence against girls and women remained a serious problem. Serious improvement had to be made to address HIV, malaria and other illnesses. It was also restrained by political inattention to the Mauritius Strategy. Further, the private sector was woefully underdeveloped, and more work had to be undertaken to address climate change.
Recalling a need for more resources, the Minister said “honest, real and outcome-oriented discussions were needed” between donors and recipient countries. A myriad of disconnected aid opportunities resulted in a tragic gap between what donors hoped for and what local communities received. A very obvious solution would be to build better bridges between the island-focused Mauritius Strategy and the Goals. Tuna fisheries represented the Marshall Islands’ primary path to development, but key stocks had been pushed beyond sustainable limits; the country reaped only one penny from each can of Pacific tuna sold abroad. Regional and global fisheries needed to be much better integrated into broader development strategies. Climate changes threatened to unravel whatever progress had been made. The Government had recently endorsed a climate change road map; with international assistance, core social development as well as climate adaptation could be addressed in lockstep.
MICHA ONDO BILE, Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Francophonie of Equatorial Guinea, restating his country’s commitment to multilateralism and to the principles and objectives of the United Nations Charter, said that the Millennium Development Goals had not been achieved to the extent desired. Many countries continued to be marginalized by extreme poverty and violent conflicts and post-conflict situations continued in many regions, resulting in a world situation that further obstructed the path to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. The progress that had been made and problems that had been encountered showed that there was a need to achieve a consensus, which must then be turned into collective actions. Standard setting measures needed to be adopted and must be applied by all States, if progress was to be achieved, and all partners must be fully committed to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
His Government had taken a series of measures to give effect to the Millennium Declaration, he said. Over the past 10 years, the country’s economic performance had been particularly laudable. Some two thirds of the population, however, continued to be subject to extreme poverty. The Government had embarked on a development strategy policy in the long-term, leading to the holding of two national conferences. The second of those conferences, held in 2007, established guidelines and priorities for poverty reduction by 2020. The view of sustainable development adopted by the Government extended to 2020, with the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Instruments, such as the Fund for Social Development, adopted in 2005, were important inputs into that strategy. He said that Fund was intended to improve social services in order to facilitate access to basic services and to protect the environment. Its principal objective was to develop the capacity of ministries and the social sector and to improve management and follow-up. The Government had also been allocating substantial sums to promote actions that promoted sustainable development. He added that the Millennium Development Goals could only be achieved through international cooperation agreed upon by all States. They could be achieved by 2015, but achievement required a break from business as usual and a re-examination of the commitment to achieve them. There was a need for enhanced solidarity between all States, irrespective of size and circumstances.
SERGEI MARTYNOV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belarus, addressed what was to be done about the “feeble and fragmentary progress” of the Goals, and pointed out that global partnerships had proved to be an effective tool in solving international problems. He then noted several successful examples, including the Global Partnership against Slavery and Human Trafficking, which his country initiated five years ago, and the United Nations New Partnership for Africa’s Development, to name a few. He also observed results were often impossible where global partnerships were not achieved, such as the last session of the Copenhagen Conference on climate change.
Continuing, he said that when such partnerships were not just words, but actions, they became an essential component of global good governance and in that light, he proposed a new global partnership, “Help Future Generations Prosper”, which would advocate for the promotion of the next generation. The implementation of the Goals needed to ensure that such a focus was incorporated in order for them to be successful and he urged that a thematic debate be held on the myriad of threats facing young people. A global partnership in such a case could be an effective mechanism of mutual understanding. And understanding was needed to avoid sharing “the fate of the tower of Babel”.
PETER SHANEL AGOVAKA, Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade of Solomon Islands, said that progress in his country had been mixed and uneven. Its scorecard on the Millennium Development Goals showed some improvement, though it was generally off track overall in achieving all Goals. There were disparities domestically on progress, especially between the formal and informal sectors of the society. Focus on the formal sector by partners had resulted in slower progress in rural areas, where 80 per cent of the population resided. Climate change had seen the population making compromises, leading to creation of pockets of poverty in various locations throughout the country. In order to address that crisis alone, the country needed new additional resources and would appreciate the transfer of technology. Solomon Islands was now, on its own, implementing the Brussels Programme of Action, which was supposed to be the vehicle for achieving the Millennium Development Goals. The country’s vulnerability and special situation had been crowded out by partners adopting a one-size-fits-all approach through regional frameworks. There was need to realign such approaches to enhance national ownership and long-term sustainability.
In looking ahead, the world needed to identify concepts that would accelerate the pace of the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, he went on. The Millennium Development Goals debt swap that had been proposed a few years ago needed to be reviewed, as the international community entered the final five years of those time-bound commitments. That concept involved developing countries using domestic capital to invest in the Goals, in return for payment of debt to partners. Carbon-neutral initiatives also needed to be externally supported. The Millennium Declaration underscored the relevance of all major United Nations conferences, including the Mauritius Strategy review and the forthcoming least developed countries conference. His country supported the Small Island Developing States Political Declaration, which called for a special category for small island developing States within the United Nations. He believed that there were enough financial resources, technology and goodwill to realize the goals of the international community. The world needed new collaboration and alliances with new initiatives.
JOSÉ MARIA NEVES, Prime Minister of Cape Verde, said his country was using its comparative advantages to accelerate economic growth in the country and combat poverty. His Government was focusing on modernizing, investing in its people and promoting its private sector, he said. As a result of factors such as good governance, the country had made consistent gains in the process of development, including in areas like education, health, the empowerment of women and the consolidation of civil society, revealing a strong political commitment to reducing poverty.
Cape Verde’s growth and poverty reduction strategy implemented a gender cross-cutting approach that responded to the most vulnerable groups, such as women, he said, adding that there was no development without gender equality. The country’s strategy was to empower women in rural areas and employ women who were heads of poor households. Regarding Cape Verde’s commitment to the Millennium Development Goals, he noted that the country had had an increase in life expectancy, a reduction of maternal and infant mortality, and an education rate of 96 per cent. He added that his Government had also invested in social security and was striving to universalize housing for all. It has also made progress in such areas as renewable energy and the agricultural food industry.
Cape Verde’s challenges included its poor natural resources, small percentage of land that could be developed, the negative affects of climate change and a lack of resources to build its infrastructure, he said. Stating that Cape Verde was at a crucial juncture, he said that, now more than ever, it required partnerships to forge ahead.
RATU INOKE KUBUABOLA, Minister for Foreign affairs, International Cooperation and Civil Aviation of Fiji, reported on how his country was on track to achieve five of the eight Millennium Development Goals; however, it would be a major challenge to eradicate extreme poverty, promote gender equality and combat HIV/AIDS and other diseases. Eradicating extreme poverty was of critical concern to Fiji. The impact of the global financial crisis and volatile oil prices was beyond the control of a small island economy, but it could act on overcoming unresolved political challenges and unproductive use of land. The Government had thus embarked on a reform agenda that would see good governance dominate political thinking and behaviour among Fijians. The aim was to bring about a Government structure that was truly participatory, consensus-oriented, transparent and following the rule of law. Land reform initiatives were also being carried out.
Looking towards the next five years, the he said that innovative approaches would be called for, matched by the correct institutions, committed programmes, justice and equity in sharing resources, and a stronger global partnership. To that end, the Government would undertake a number of measures, including national action plans and regular monitoring of progress towards achieving the Goals. Fiji would hold true to meeting its commitment, knowing the benefits accrued would fall squarely on the people of Fiji.
KALOMBO T. MWANSA, Special Envoy of the President and Minister of Defence of Zambia, noted the country’s sustained economic growth of 6.1 per cent for the past five years. Investments in the growth sectors and in human capital development, combined with pro-poor interventions, were largely credited for the growth. Beneficiaries of farmer input support increased from 200,000 to more than 800,000. Although food production had increased, high food prices still threatened a large number of the poor. In addition, climatic variability had an impact on the lives of the majority of the people, particularly the livelihoods of the already vulnerable population.
Rural development was central to Zambia’s development agenda, he stated. Initiatives included the improvement of the State’s feeder roads, the recruitment of 1,610 frontline medical personnel and the provision of housing for rural health workers. He noted that those measures would significantly contribute to meeting the Millennium Development Goals related to the reduction of child mortality, improving maternal mortality, and combating HIV and AIDS, as well as malaria and other major diseases. Further, the country was on track to achieve universal primary education through teacher deployment and classroom construction aimed at rural areas, as well as Goal 3 through affirmative action interventions at the educational level, and the establishment of a fund with a view to empowering women.
He acknowledged the support of cooperating partners for the country’s positive economic growth. Besides the debt relief accessed after reaching the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Debt Initiative completion point in 2004, some $798 million was received in donor support. In 2009, he said, that increased to about $856 million and was expected to grow by the end of 2010. Zambia is “steadfastly committed” to promoting good governance, he added, and had voluntarily acceded to the Africa Peer Review Mechanism towards that end. He noted that Zambia still faced challenges in meeting Goal 7 on ensuring environmental sustainability, due to high levels of poverty and a lack of alternative sources of livelihoods. In reference to Goal 8, Zambia called on cooperating partners to honour their pledge made at the Gleneagles Summit to increase aid to Africa and ensure balanced distribution of ODA.
CAROLYN RODRIGUES-BIRKETT, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guyana, stating that her country had adopted a progressive and integrated development approach, said that prudent management of macroeconomic and fiscal policy, and devoting priority attention to social and infrastructural development, had allowed it to make significant progress on several of the Millennium targets and to weather the worst impacts of the financial and food crises. Guyana had recorded achievements in education; the environment; gender equality; poverty eradication; and health, in particular, in reversing the trend in mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
She went on to say that Guyana had also moved further steps, including by setting out a Low Carbon Development Strategy to place its economy on a low emissions trajectory. Last November, a Memorandum of Understanding had been signed with Norway to implement a national model for deploying forests to address climate change without compromising sovereignty or national development priorities. It would, she stressed, help finance critical transformational infrastructure and low-carbon business initiatives and advance Guyana’s long-standing commitment to people-centred development through greater investments in the social sector. It represented a model of partnership between developing and developed countries in advancing common development and environmental objectives.
One lesson that 10 years of efforts had distilled at the international level was that, with adequate resources, the right policies and actions, and renewed political commitment, the Millennium Goals were eminently achievable, she said. However, several pervasive challenges remained that required a global response. Action was needed to strengthen the systems of global governance in order to make a more equitable, representative and effective multilateral system; to reform and modernize the international financial institutions to better enable them to prevent and respond to financial and economic emergencies; to strengthen the capabilities and capacities of the United Nations to discharge its mandate more effectively and efficiently; and to address shortcomings of the international trading system. While fluctuating financial, political and economic fortunes invariably impacted the timeliness of delivery, they should not diminish the commitment to the poor, especially in times of crisis. Nor should such factors reduce the determination to working in partnership towards sustainable development for all.
LUCIEN MARIE NOËL BEMBAMBA, Minister of Economy and Finance of Burkina Faso, said that, despite many challenges, his country had made progress in fighting poverty. The most significant had been in the area of access to potable water, where the percentage of the population with access to a source of potable water had increased from 43 per cent in 1994 to nearly 80 per cent in 2010. In the areas of education and health, there had also been encouraging results, particularly with regard to school enrolment, reduction in infant and maternal mortality and the stabilization of the prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS at about 1.6 per cent in 2008 compared to 7.17 per cent in 1997. A free antiretroviral drugs programme had been instituted since January 2010. Many challenges, however, remained.
He warned that the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals by his country could be further undermined due to climate change. Visible effects of climate change included the flooding the country had experienced. To address that challenge, synergy of action and robust political will was needed. It was also necessary to reaffirm the fundamentality of seeing the Goals as the rights for people and making them an integral part of the global development strategy, in order to serve as a framework for dialogue with development partners. Policies to mobilize resources for the Millennium Development Goals should take an innovative approach and should involve all nations. He reiterated the need for improved access to markets, stating that equitable trade was necessary in order to accelerate economic growth and generate substantial resources to fund the Goals. Burkina Faso hoped that Taiwan would be a full-fledged partner in the implementation of the Goals.
AMIRA AL-FADIL, Minister of Welfare and Social Security of Sudan, said that problems of hunger, disease and internal strife remained a problem in many countries and they represented a challenge to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. The international community must, therefore, realize the danger represented by those challenges. Sudan had made great efforts towards the realization of the Millennium Development Goals and had achieved progress in securing the interest of the marginalized in society, particularly in the area of maternal and child health. It had implemented a series of five-year plans, with a view to realizing social and economic development. It had also established a supreme council to monitor the implementation of those plans. In addition, the country had increased its expenditures targeting the Millennium Development Goals, while the “zakat” charity mechanism had made contributions totalling more than $200 million.
Sudan had witnessed progress in education, she went on. It had established a national strategy to promote women and had adopted a national plan combating violence against women, in addition to establishing a related unit in the Ministry of Justice. A national strategy on female circumcision had also been established and the criminal code had been amended to include adequate protection for women. States had adopted policies to promote the health of the child, including free health care to all children under the age of 5. She reasserted the great importance of development assistance for the realization of the Millennium Development Goals. The existence of crises should not be an excuse for reductions in development assistance. Sudan was undergoing a peace process, but had received very little of the support that had been pledged to it at the donor conference. She stressed the important role of the United Nations in leading efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and said that her country looked forward to deepening multilateral international cooperation.
DANIELE D. BODINI ( San Marino) said that, as the world recommitted itself to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, “lasting success depends on sustainable worldwide economic growth”. That required stronger public-private partnerships in every sector to provide appropriate jobs for the hundreds of millions of unemployed and underemployed, particularly the young. Youth, he said, “will be the steady and enthusiastic engine to propel forwards our world economy”. That, in turn, would reinvigorate the Millennium Development Goals effort.
“We must correct our world financial system so that the rewards of our collective work can continue to grow and maintain a steady and safe value,” he said. The uncertainty created in the last few years by unregulated and speculative financial behaviour, he noted, has hampered the economic and social stability of Countries and derailed the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. He expressed his gratitude for the renewed commitments of countries to obtain the Millennium Development Goals and commended, in particular, the Permanent Representatives of Senegal and Denmark for negotiating the outcome document.
JORGE VALERO BRICEÑO ( Venezuela) said the global economic crisis of capitalism had created more poverty and inequality, and the financial economy had increased the accumulation of billions of dollars, privatizing everything, without creating any good. He underlined that the Bolivarian revolution, under the leadership of President Hugo Chavez Frias, promoted an alternative model of development that was humanist and enacted deep structural changes in favour of the excluded.
He said social investment had become a national strategy for Venezuela and 60 per cent of total tax revenue between 1999 and 2009 had been earmarked for social investment. The poverty rate in the country had fallen from 49 per cent in 1998 to 24.2 per cent in 2009, and the unemployment rate had fallen from 15 per cent in 1998 to 6.6 per cent in 2009. Further, the promotion of gender equality and the goal of drinking water coverage had been achieved in Venezuela.
The Government supported Latin American and Caribbean integration, based on the principles of cooperation and solidarity. He added that the Government’s policies had become instruments for achieving the Millennium Development Goals and the promotion of independent development, without the tyranny of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). He concluded by saying that Venezuela had met most of the Millennium Development Goals and the country has opted for Venezuelan socialism in order to create a society where justice, equality and solidarity reigned.
ERNEST BAI KOROMA, President of Sierra Leone, said that, when the Millennium Development Goals were launched 10 years ago, his country was engulfed in a decade-long civil conflict, which had setback human development and virtually crippled the economy. “Clearly, Sierra Leone was going in the wrong direction during the first decade of the MDG agenda,” he said. Since 2007, considerable progress had been made in consolidating peace and security, as well as democracy. However, the recent global crisis had presented enormous challenges for economic growth and, though the country had weathered the storm, with a 5.5 per cent growth rate in 2008 and 4 per cent in 2009, those levels were below what was needed to lift people out of poverty.
Discussing the way forward, he said the “Agenda for Change” offered structural reforms in the areas of electricity, transportation, agriculture and human development. As those four pillars addressed the country’s weak economic and social indicators, they would help reach the Goals. The ability to start a business had improved, thanks to reforms to the business environment, but poor infrastructure was a major obstacle to private-sector-driven growth, which was why the Government was developing a national transportation network and reliable power supply to transition the country from post-conflict to development.
Some of the Goals might be missed, he conceded, with ratings related to poverty, maternal and child mortality, the environment and gender equality still very low. The launch of a free health initiative for pregnant women would significantly improve some indicators. To achieve the Goals by 2015, investment must be scaled up, and innovative programmes and policies for economic and social transformation rapidly implemented. In that respect, strong partnerships between Government agencies and development partners must be built to carry out projects that would impact human development. The challenges were immense, but building synergies was the best hope for meeting the aspirations for a better life that were embedded in the Goals.
MARCUS STEPHEN, President of Nauru, said, despite concerted efforts, the scoreboard for the Pacific Region, including Nauru, ran a very high risk of not achieving most of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. The region was among the most vulnerable to economic and environmental shocks, for reasons including geographic location, small populations and economies, high reliance on expensive imports, vulnerability to natural disasters, fragile freshwater supplies, narrow resource bases, costly public administration and weak infrastructure.
Those challenges had been exacerbated by recent setbacks – both internal and external – including the impact of the global and financial crisis, rising energy and food prices, as well as the mounting problems posed by climate change, sea level rise and food security. All of that had adversely undermined the socio-economic development of the communities. In an effort to make progress, the country had adopted the National Sustainable Development Strategy in 2005, a programme that provided a clear and detailed road map for meeting the country’s short- and long-term goals.
While the international community had recognized the unique challenges faced by small island States, he said the level of support provided to those States had not been adequate. The vulnerabilities of the region had been highlighted in the preparatory work for the five-year review of the Mauritius Strategy, and he urged all Member States to help create strategies and structure for finance and trade. Education was an area in which Nauru had made progress. However, the country still lacked enough qualified teachers to meet the demand. And, he added, “we need more schools”. Improving health care had been a bigger challenge and progress in combating HIV/AIDS was lagging. Nearly 75 per cent of people in the Pacific suffered from AIDS and it was a leading cause of mortality. Basic infrastructure, lack of employment for youth and climate change had also impeded economic growth. For small island States such as Nauru, overseas development assistance was crucial to progress.
PAUL KAGAME, President of Rwanda, recalled that the purpose of the current meeting was to elaborate strategies for accelerating the process of achieving the Goals. The environment had changed radically since the Goals were adopted. The growth of globalization and the resulting economic crisis, the growing influence of new partners for development in the East and South of the world and the growing effect of climate change were all factors presenting new challenges to development. “We need to ensure we are having a discussion for today and tomorrow’s reality, not yesterday’s,” he said.
Meeting the Goals must remain the international priority regardless of changing circumstances, he stressed. The concern was compounded by the fact that debate on the Goals agenda had been dominated by a few voices, primarily from the developed national and affiliated non-governmental organization. Despite good intentions, their perspective was often predicated on paternalism, not partnership, on charity and not self-reliance, and on unfulfilled promises rather than real change on the ground. Those in the developing world could also do more. The manner in which the agenda had been driven to date was in need of reconsideration, and of recognition for why achievement on the targets was lagging. The goodwill of other nations could no longer be relied upon. Developed countries must assume effective leadership and take full ownership of their countries’ development. Empowerment must be promoted, especially of women and girls, so that they changed the context in which they lived and became more involved in poverty-alleviation programmes. The transformational power of technology must be embraced.
All that could be achieved through regional cooperation, he said, which was why he encouraged South-South dialogue and economic cooperation. Agencies must work together to empower nation States. The lessons of the last 10 years showed that, even when resources were available and action plans adopted, progress had been sadly too slow. What was needed was to foster new working relationships and the adoption of values that were informed by home-grown priorities and owned by local leaders; empowered citizens and enabled communities to work productively; and balanced historical and cultural heritage with innovation and social progress. The Goals were attainable, he concluded. When Governments owned their developments and real partnerships were formed between supporters and those supported, where the agenda was designed and executed by the people for whom it was intended, then tangible results were achieved and livelihoods were improved.
SHEIKH SHARIF SHEIKH AHMED, President of the Transitional Government of Somalia, recalled that, when the Millennium Development agenda was launched, Somalia was in a civil war, which eventually developed into something even worse. Now, the Government and its people were witnessing the unique conflict where a group of terrorists prevented peace and prevented Somalia from reaching its goals. Therefore, the Government’s position was put forth in the August meeting of the General Assembly on Somalia. That had been to ask the international community to “really help Somalia” overcome the difficult situation in the country and to free it from the difficult terrorist organization that was holding Somalia back from development and reaching the Goals.
Somalia had very promising potential, he said. However, it had to free itself from groups that wanted to keep the country in a state of “war, violence and loneliness”. That could be done with help from the international community and the determination of the Federal Government to get Somalia caught up with the other members of the international community. Friendly nations must “help Somalia to really defeat this terrorism”, which not only affected Somalia, but the surrounding region and the entire international world.
“As we know”, he concluded, “terrorism has no borders”. Once Somalia was peaceful, however, it could participate in the process of achieving the goals set out in the Millennium Development agenda.
LEONEL FERNÁNDEZ REYNA, President of the Dominican Republic, said that, although the Dominican Republic had experienced substantial growth rates of approximately 6 per cent annually since the early 1990s, it was unlikely that the country would achieve a 50 per cent reduction in poverty rates before 2015. He outlined several reasons explaining the difficulty, including an internal financial crisis from 2003 to 2005 that caused the currency to devaluate, inflation to rocket, and unemployment to rise, as well as an oil and food crisis that raised oil costs to avoid increasing food prices. Other factors included the global economic crisis of 2007 and the frequency of natural disasters as a consequence of global warming, which limited resources originally allotted to the Millennium Development Goals.
He said that it was not a lack of political will or planning that would prevent the Dominican Republic from achieving the Goals, but unforeseen national and international circumstances. That meant that the international community needed to redouble its efforts and design new strategies, as his country was doing towards 2030. He reaffirmed his country’s commitment and hope that the United Nations would play an active leadership role in designing more equitable economic order.
ALI BONGO ONDIMBA, President of Gabon, said a major plus in his country since independence was the internal stability that helped to stabilize the entire region. Ensuring social benefits for the people was a big priority for the Government. Measures had been implemented to restart the agriculture and fishing industries in order to help address a food security issue in the country, due to a rapid increase in population growth. Education was a priority and Gabon’s school enrolment rate was among the highest in sub-Saharan Africa. Adult literacy had expanded to over 85 per cent of the population. The promotion of gender equality was another high priority and it was a matter of national pride that both the Head of State and the Head of the Constitutional Court during the transitional period had been women. Measures had also been taken to address the high rate of incidence of HIV/AIDS in the country. Access to antiretroviral drugs had been increased and prevention programmes had been implemented.
Further, he said environmental challenges were being addressed through a “Green Gabon” programme that had been implemented since his election to the Presidency. Protection of the equatorial rain forests was among the highest priorities, along with control of carbon emissions. Gabon’s view was that the country would be safe from the negative effects of climate change, as long as its forests were protected. However, it was recognized that climate change was a global phenomenon, in which the actions of others affected Gabon’s situation. Therefore, the development agenda focused on three pillars of growth: the fostering of diversity; the implementation of infrastructural improvements to promote good governance; and the promotion of policies capable of creating a durable and sustainable level of growth. To achieve all that, the Government was seeking partnerships in which direct investments were aimed at improving its financing capability in those priority areas. Towards that end, global partnerships on behalf of environmental programmes were critical.
SALOU DJIBO, President of the Supreme Council for Restoration of Democracy, Chief of State, President of the Council of Ministers, Niger, said a set of quantifiable criteria had been elaborated in his country towards achieving the Millennium Goals on time. The advancement of the rights of women and children had been made a priority. And, while much had been implemented and achieved, results in achieving the Goals on time were spotty.
It now seemed highly unlikely that his country would achieve the Goals on time, he said. There were a number of reasons for that situation. The global economic crisis had created a sharp decrease in ODA commitments. The vagaries of Niger’s environmental conditions had complicated infrastructural improvements. Population growth had exacerbated the problem of food insecurity. Finally, the global economic, energy and food crises had greatly impacted his country’s ability to advance its development goals, as had been planned.
The situation could still be reversed if the international community provided effective assistance, he said. Niger had been designated a candidate for the Millennium Goals local ownership initiative, but it had not yet been selected. An accelerated poverty reduction strategy that had been implemented was capable of serving as a foundation for progress towards the targets set in the Goals. The cost would be $21 billion and the focus would be on developing the mining and oil industries in 2011. Both technical and financial participation of partners was needed for rapid and large-scale support of activities. For its part, he concluded, Niger would commit to increasing the budget for national priority areas. Those included improvements in the health sector and in strengthening the rule of law. Measures would be instituted to ensure individual freedoms, good governance and a strengthened fight against terrorism.
PAUL BIYA, President of Cameroon, said that, while significant results had been achieved since the adoption of the Millennium Goals in 2000, reaching the Goals by 2015 remained uncertain. Africa had made remarkable progress, but the pace and quality achieved so far could only stir “cautious satisfaction”, not optimism. Africa was the only continent that would not attain the Goals on schedule.
His vision of the Goals would centre on three essential areas: the implementation of developing global partnerships; access to energy; and job creation. Further, the successful mobilization of development resources would require more equitable trading assistance, a comprehensive debt programme, and access to essential medicines and advances in technology. If those challenges were met, Cameroon could achieve the target of Goal 8, which could pave the way for reaching the other Goals.
Further, he said access to energy was essential to reducing poverty, education, health, gender and environment. Energy resources facilitated not only agricultural production, but also water supply and income for the poorest segments, especially women. In addition, energy could boost girls’ education by reducing their household chores, and help improve maternal and child health through proper storage of vaccines and medicines. Finally, the Millennium Development Goals could not be achieved without addressing employment. Indeed, it was a crucial factor on alleviating poverty and fostering dignity. To make progress, the Government had prepared a Growth and Employment Strategy paper, which was a blueprint on developing productive sectors and infrastructure. A new Energy Development Programme had provided for upgrades of infrastructure and new hydroelectric dams, which were estimated to double energy electric production by 2015, and triple it by 2020.
ATO MELES ZENAWI, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, declared that, with only five years to go to the target of 2015, it was not clear that there was enough justification for a sense of accomplishment with respect to that most important collective promise. No doubt there had been some progress and some parts of the world were on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. In Africa, too, he said, although progress had been uneven, and had been negatively affected by the current economic crisis and unusual levels of climate variability, a number of countries were on a promising course to achieve most, if not all of the Millennium Development Goals. However, the overall picture on the continent in terms of achieving the Goals was far from reassuring. With that realization, it was clear more had to be done, and done better than had been the case to this point, in order to make up for lost opportunities over the years.
He had no doubt that those in the developing world had to do more, and better, to take charge of their destiny, to design programmes and strategies appropriate to their circumstances and mobilize their own resources as the primary means of achieving the Millennium Development Goals. It was clear, however, that as much as those that were vulnerable might work to assume full responsibility for their development and maximize domestic resource mobilization, there were nonetheless structural realities that made it unavoidable for them to be partially dependent on international solidarity to make progress in development, including in achieving the Millennium Development Goals. To that end, he urged partners in development to do more, and better, to deliver on their promises, both in terms of quantity and quality of support promised.
Continuing, he believed the high-level meeting needed to result in a new pact with respect to a renewed commitment to ensure that the collective promises made at the dawn of the new millennium were kept. What were needed were action-oriented recommendations designed to ensure accountability for commitments and promises made. Thus, the next five years should be used in such a way as to make up for some of the lost opportunities over the past decade, he added.
PAKALITHA B. MOSISILI, Prime Minister of Lesotho, stated that developed countries must live up to their commitments to ODA, adding that developing countries must also do their part by devoting resources to the areas that were necessary for social and economic growth.
He indicated that Lesotho was on track to meet the goal of universal primary education due to policies introduced for free and compulsory education at that level and would also meet targets set for gender equality and access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. However, the scourge of HIV and AIDS remained a major challenge, as did maternal and infant mortality. He underscored that the achievement of most of the Millennium Development Goals was dependent on the success of addressing such health-related challenges. “ Lesotho hopes that the recent global economic and financial crisis which affected all countries will not be used by our development partners as an excuse to reduce their support to the developing countries,” he added.
Climate change was one of the most serious challenges that the country faced, he said. It threatened food security and affected the majority of the population that relied on subsistence farming. In particular, the nutritional status of children and other vulnerable groups was often compromised. He appealed to industrialized countries for assistance with the necessary technology and resources to adapt to, and mitigate, the impacts of climate change.
KAMLA PERSAD-BISSESSAR, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, said her Government recognized that the way out of poverty was through education, community empowerment and social entrepreneurship. In line with that recognition, it was re-engineering its strategies to achieve those Millennium Development Goals, which required greater efforts. She was proud to say that the goal on primary education had been surpassed. Notwithstanding those advances, Trinidad and Tobago saw the United Nations and other multilateral agencies as critical partners in overcoming challenges in the areas of the other Millennium Goals. Also, the Government recognized that it had to work harder in order to ensure that it reached its goal of reducing poverty by 2 per cent per year.
She said her Government was committed to partnering with the people, pointing out that too many programmes of poverty reduction failed because of an inability to connect, to consult and to collaborate with those in need. Continuing, she stressed her country’s concern about the equal place for women and girls in society, as well as a commitment to children’s needs, strongly believing that they were the future. Equally, the health and well-being of the people of Trinidad and Tobago was a high priority for the Government. She affirmed that the Government would spare no efforts in the fight against infant mortality. Like so many other developing countries, Trinidad and Tobago, too, needed to confront the reality of HIV/AIDS. However, in the Caribbean region, non-communicable diseases, especially diabetes, hypertension and heart disease were prevalent. The emergence of those diseases could only roll back the gains made towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
STEPHEN HARPER, Prime Minister of Canada, said that the Millennium Development Goals set benchmarks that allowed the international community to measure collective progress towards building a better future for those most in need, and eloquently expressed a conviction that nations must act together for the good of all. At this year’s summit, he stressed that discussions should be less about new agreements than accountability for existing ones; less about lofty promises than real results; and less about narrow self-interest in sovereignty’s name than an expanded view of mutual interest in which there was room for all to grow and prosper. All parties to the Millennium Development Goals must develop and sustain a shared sense of responsibility, and must demonstrate that responsibility by being accountable.
For its part, he said that Canada had a clear, open, and transparent record and was proud of what it had accomplished. After the Group of 8 summit of 2009, Canada has doubled support for agriculture development, and now had a comprehensive food strategy that committed the country to concrete action. Canada also doubled interventional assistance and aid to Africa, and had forgiven more than $1 billion in debt owed by the poorest countries. Newly established clear priorities for aid would focus on food security, children and youth, and economic development.
He went on to say that it was a sad reality that each year hundreds of thousands of mothers died in pregnancy and nearly 9 million children died before their fifth birthday. The new Muskoka Initiative for maternal, newborn and child health was anticipated to receive more than $10 billion in mobilized support over five years, and would save millions of lives and make a tangible difference to the world’s most vulnerable. Accountability for results would be an integral part of the plan, and donor countries must deliver on their commitments. Only through accountability and staying the course would the international community see measured improvements like better nutrition, healthier children, and longer lives.
BRUCE GOLDING, Prime Minister of Jamaica, said that in the race to 2015, many developing countries were lagging behind because of, among other things, inadequate investment in human resource development and an international trading system that treated those countries more as consumers and importers than as producers and exporters. The cost of borrowing was high because of perceived risks and indebtedness pre-empted using available resources. Social welfare programmes were implemented at the expense of self-sustaining development initiatives. More attention must be paid to the adverse impact of the global crisis on developing countries’ efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals, as those countries had no surpluses to mount counter-cyclical stimulus initiatives. The increasing impact of climate change and the costs of countering international terrorism had also constrained progress.
“Without an emergency programme to re-energize the MDG agenda, those targets will remain elusive in 2015 and beyond,” he said. The fiscal policy requirements attached to resources made available through the IMF were contractionary and could not assist developing countries in meeting their targets in the short run. The Global Partnership for Development aligned to Goal 8 must be reinvigorated. He urged developed countries not to renege on, or postpone, commitments on ODA due to constraints faced as a result of the recession. Crime and violence were increasingly becoming an obstacle to achieving the Goals. That was not just a law-enforcement issue, but also a development issue correlated to poverty, investment, competitiveness and job creation.
He appealed for special consideration for small and vulnerable economies like Jamaica’s, which were classified as middle-income countries and, therefore, not eligible for certain concessionary and development financing. One hurricane could set a Caribbean country back 10 years, and a fallout in tourist travel — such as after 9/11 — could devastate a tourism-dependent economy. His country had made substantial progress towards universal primary education and was on track to achieve the Goal 6 targets regarding HIV/AIDS. It had, however, experienced a significant increase in poverty as a result of the global recession. The surest way to secure global prosperity and economic stability, as well as global peace and security, was to enable all countries and peoples to contribute to and share in that prosperity. That should be the ultimate Millennium Development Goal.
MOULAY OULD MOHAMED LAGHDAF, Prime Minister of Mauritania, said the Millennium Development Goals were optimistic and very ambitious, and could only be achieved by adopting parallel programmes to boost infrastructure, especially in areas of roads, electricity and transportation. Mauritania was a large country with a desert climate where most people lived in rural areas, so its Government focused on paving roads, while building health centres and schools in remote and poor areas. The country’s priority in fighting poverty and improving citizens’ social and security conditions could also be seen in the creation of adequate housing and necessary social services for thousands of citizens who used to live poor and marginalized in shanty towns.
To achieve the Goals, he said, developing countries must fight bribery and misuse of public money, so that vital social infrastructure could be built. Donor countries must also fulfil their obligations, particularly the allocation of 0.7 per cent of their national income to developing nations. Mauritania noted satisfaction at announcements by some States that they intended to fulfil the pledge and search for new funding. But, Mauritania also asked for a review of funding disbursement procedures, so that development projects could be accelerated through, for example, supporting the budget of beneficiary countries. Current funding procedures were often an obstacle to timely implementation of projects.
In spite of that, it remained possible that Mauritania would meet some of the Goals by 2015, relying first on its own resources and also the support of development partners. By the end of the year, all districts of the capital Nouakchott would be provided electricity, while the country will launch projects focusing on providing 74 per cent of the population with drinking water by the end of 2015. Numerous health programmes, including a campaign to vaccinate children under the age of 5, had begun over the past two years. Mauritania would also intensify its schooling efforts and create gender equality in basic education, which it considered “a done deal”. During the past weeks Mauritania has also launched a programme to combat desertification, which will plant 1 million trees during the next two years. He thanked “brothers, friends and partners” for support and encouraged them to strengthen cooperation and expedite the accomplishment of the Goals.
HEINZ FISCHER, President of Austria, said that over the past decade some of the world’s poorest countries had achieved major success in fighting extreme poverty and hunger, improving school enrolment and children’s health, expanding access to clean water and access to HIV treatment and controlling malaria, tuberculosis and neglected tropical diseases. That demonstrated that, with the right policies, adequate investment and international support, the Millennium Development Goals were achievable. But, he noted much remains to be done. With declining resources amid the global financial crisis, donors needed to focus even more on goals and regions where the Millennium Development Goals were lagging. Donors must support developing countries in their response to the financial crisis, while reviewing their programmes and activities based on their partners’ priorities.
He said Austria would concentrate its development efforts on areas where it has particular expertise: energy and environment; water and sanitation; and peace and security. He added that advancing gender equality and empowering women was essential, since they contributed to the health and productivity of families and communities, improving the prospects for the next generation. Women affected by armed conflicts and their role in peace building remain a priority among Austria’s development cooperation policies, and during the country’s membership on the United Nations Security Council it continued to make a daily priority of implementing the objectives of Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security. Further, he said, more attention was needed for people with disabilities, who were among the most vulnerable in development processes.
He also emphasized the particular need to overcome energy poverty, strongly supporting the Secretary-General’s campaign to ensure universal access to energy to all people on Earth by 2030. The Millennium Development Goals could not be reached if 2 billion people continued to lack access to electricity or other energy services for their basic needs and productive uses. A collective effort around the world, commitment of donors to the Millennium Development Goals and intensified efforts of developing countries, United Nations organizations and international stakeholders would help bring sustainable economic and human development.
JEAN-MAX BELLERIVE, Prime Minister of Haiti, said that while the Millennium Development Goals were tangible development indicators, they did not tell the whole story of a country’s development efforts. Since 2004, Haiti had enjoyed some stability; not a negligible gain, but it should have invested resources in aspects of development that would have projected a different image for the country. Reaching the Goals was a mutual responsibility and could be done through consistent international support.
Scarred by decades of poor development choices and buffeted by cyclones year after year, he said, Haiti could not stop the poverty cycle alone. The situation was far from desperate and there was an opportunity to reduce vulnerability, invest in job-creating sectors and provide basic social services. The 12 January events showed that Haiti’s development must give pride of place to harmonious development between the capital and the provinces. A 31 March appeal had yielded major amounts pledged, however they had not translated into additional funds that would cover the numerous programmes that awaited financing. Former United States President Bill Clinton’s commitment had heralded a better understanding of the need.
Non-governmental contributions, while indispensable, could not substitute for the State’s permanent role, he said. Haiti was working to improve the volume and predictability of resources its citizens could demand. However, Haiti had no idea of what had been spent by humanitarian agencies, despite having asked several times. That was not acceptable. Haiti must know how much was available in terms of additional funds. Answers to such questions were critical and he called for better information sharing. Without that, there would be no national ownership, which would result in Haiti’s regression. “We cannot envisage such a scenario,” he said. “Our success will be yours.”
NASSER AL-MOHAMMED AL-AHMAD AL-SABAH, Prime Minister of Kuwait, said the meeting was dominated by discouraging indicators, particularly with regard to reducing global poverty and hunger rates. The amount of people living in poverty had rose from 800 million in 1990 to more than 1 billion in 2009. It was, therefore, imperative to adhere to previously made commitments, he said, underlining the importance of allocating 0.7 per cent of gross national product (GNP) to ODA.
The world had witnessed severe crises and challenges since the last Millennium Goals conference in 2005. While steps had been taken to address the crises, more remained to be done to achieve global economy recovery. Moreover, climate change and its impact on all aspects of life required a joint and unified effort, in light of the recent increase of destructive natural disasters. The Millennium Goals could still be achieved, he said, echoing sentiments outlined in the Secretary-General’s report. In that regard, he emphasized that the United Nations was the “most credible, legal and neutral multilateral mechanism there is”.
He noted that positive progress showed that the Goals could be attained by 2015. Indicators such as increased school registration rates, improvements in child and maternal health, more access to clean water, and progress in combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis were evidence that supported his conviction. However, to maintain that progress, constant and prompt efforts would be required. Indicators of Kuwait’s economic and social development had surpassed targeted averages, and his country planned to implement a national development plan for 2010 to 2014, at an estimated cost of nearly $115 billion. In addition to the ambitious national plan, Kuwait continued to provide assistance to developing countries through the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development. Given that, he renewed his country’s commitment to provide developmental and financial assistance to States in need.
STEPHENSON KING, Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, outlined his country’s progress in attaining the eight Millennium Development Goals. He noted that, while both universal primary and secondary education had been achieved in respect of Millennium Development Goal 2, for instance, there remained an acute need to systematically address issues of gender-based violence and other forms of discrimination against women with regard to Millennium Development Goal 3. Similarly, while child mortality rates were higher than the target set by the Millennium Development Goals, Saint Lucia continued to pursue a vision of universal primary health care and the Millennium Development Goals.
He said maternal health in his country was better than in most developing countries and surpassed the Millennium Development Goal target. With regard to Millennium Development Goal 6, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, he noted that the National HIV/AIDS Strategic Plan 2004-2009 was the guiding framework for the country’s response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic and efforts were being made to improve both reporting and the surveillance systems. Malaria was no longer present in the country and other communicable diseases were generally under control, he reported. Government policies in Saint Lucia had also promoted partnerships through subregional, regional and international organizations. Overall, he believed “considerable progress” had been made towards the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals.
Continuing, he stressed that the Goals did not have to be regarded as an end in themselves, but as a means to an end, noting that it should be remembered that many of the Goals and targets were set at their lowest entry points and at the time of adoption many countries had been above the threshold. He further emphasized that progress towards the Goals would be of little consequence if development gains were not lasting. He urged developed States to promote broad-based economic growth by helping countries formulate and implement pro-growth policies, promote trade and investment in infrastructure and stimulate entrepreneurship.
MOHAMED WAHEED, Vice-President of the Maldives, said he could use his time at the podium to explain that his country had achieved Goals 5 (maternal health) and 8 (global partnership) ahead of the 2015 deadline, making it the only South-Asian country to do so. Or, he could discuss efforts to combat HIV/AIDS. However, he wished to discuss the enormous challenges ahead in consolidating gains, especially since the Maldives had been hit by a powerful tsunami in 2004. In its drive to reach the Goals, the Maldives was struggling to consolidate democracy, as well as introduce human rights and the rule of law into the national consciousness. “We are not unique in this,” he said.
That tension, coupled with rising religious extremism, was making work on the Goals more difficult. Promoting human rights, decentralization, privatization and redistribution were the foundation for national policies, but also a threat to the vested interests that had once controlled the country. Extravagant spending by the former Government had taken a toll. He said another development challenge was the Maldives’ impending graduation from the list of least developed countries, which would impact social and economic development. Graduation was indeed a reflection of progress. However, no one would question that the Maldives remained vulnerable at commercial, social and environmental levels, among others.
He said the question hinged on agreeing that, while graduation was a positive development, small island developing States would need continued support. In that context, he said there must be a formal transparent category for small island developing States. Discussing Goals 3 (gender equality) and 7 (environment), he said the overall gender gap was closing, but slower than necessary to meet the Goal. Cultural and social norms had created obstacles to women’s participation in society. Last year, the Maldives had announced its intent to become the first carbon-neutral country. To do that, it needed international support.
HOR NAMHONG, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Cambodia, said the apprehension that most least developed countries would have difficulties achieving the Goals by 2015 was accentuated by unfolding economic, fuel, food and climate crises. The recent global economic crisis had depressed investment and exports, while soaring energy prices had increased export production costs. Much land had been diverted to grow bioenergy crops, rather than food. Debt reimbursement was another major hurdle to reaching the Goals, curtailing least developed countries’ ability to fund development projects. Halving poverty by 2015 required steady economic growth and pro-poor policies, coupled with governance reforms and growth in job-creating sectors.
It was also important to invest more in sectors such as health and education that built human capacity to engage more productively in economic activities, he said. Another important concern was achieving meaningful access to international markets and efforts should be made to get the Doha Round of trade negotiations on track for a successful conclusion, notably to break down barriers for agricultural products. Developed nations should fulfil pledges to meet the 0.7 per cent ODA target, as well as the agreed target of 0.15 to 0.20 per cent of their GNP to least developed countries.
For its part, Cambodia had adopted its own development targets in 2003, which had been incorporated into its 2009-2013 strategic development plan, he said. The country was thus on track to achieve the Millennium Goals set for reducing child mortality, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, and forging partnerships for global development. Citing a study by the Overseas Development Institute, he said Cambodia ranked among the 20 countries making the most progress on the Goals.
GUNILLA CARLSSON, Minister for International Development and Cooperation of Sweden, said the Millennium Development Goals represented a common agenda to enable people to move out of poverty and into lives of freedom and opportunities. She noted that Governments that pursued democratic development hand in hand with human rights stood a better chance of achieving the Goals. The overall trend was positive, as infant and child mortality had dropped and more girls attended school. Evidence showed the Goals could be met if there was sufficient political will. However, millions of people continued to suffer from hunger and a lack of access to safe drinking water, while climate change affected living conditions. The poorest suffered the most, and Africa was particularly hard hit.
Sweden was deeply concerned some of the Goals were lagging behind, particularly in the area of maternal health. She noted that the causes of maternal mortality were well known and, in most cases, preventable. It was unacceptable that hundreds of thousands of women died every year from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth; maternal health should be addressed within a comprehensive approach to sexual and reproductive health and rights. Healthy mothers contributed to higher levels of education, economic growth and productivity, as healthy women could participate fully in social and economic life. Sweden welcomed the Secretary-General’s Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health, which emphasized the need for reporting, oversight and transparency, but needed more concrete targets to ensure compliance and accountability.
While international resources were important to meeting the Millennium Development Goals, domestic resources such as taxes in developing countries were even more important, so that a national system could, for example, pay teachers and midwives decent salaries. She added that a joint commitment to work against corruption was needed, as people should not have to bribe for access to basic services. The Swedish Government intended to fulfil its commitment to achieve the Goals by 2015, calling on colleagues in the developed world to also honour their commitments and colleagues in developing countries to reinforce their ownership and leadership.
MAXINE MCCLEAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Barbados, described the “peculiarities and vulnerabilities” of being a small island developing State and called for a re-evaluation of the criteria defining high- or low-income countries. She said that although her country’s efforts in health care and compulsory education, among other areas, allowed it to pursue a Millennium Development Goals-plus strategy, its constant exposure to natural disasters and the effects of climate change mitigated its goals and strategies.
She went on to say that the success of her country’s multisectoral response strategy to lower HIV-prevalence rates had garnered universal access to treatment for people living with the virus, lowered the death rate from AIDS and made mother-to-child transmission “almost a thing of the past”. However, because of the categorization of Barbados as a high/middle-income country, that success had also impeded access to grant funding for its efforts to link knowledge of transmission to corresponding behavioural change. She reiterated her call for a review of classification criteria and for an investigation of the implications of those criteria for countries like Barbados.
OSMAN SALEH, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Eritrea, urged that the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals continued to be the top priority of the development agenda, because the Goals were the most unifying in the United Nations system. He said the international community needed to keep the promises made at the Summit of September 2000, as failure to deliver on those promises by 2015 would be a “terribly failing the people” who were looking up to the international community and the credibility of multilateralism would adversely be affected. Eritrea was, thus, committed and was doing its best to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by the target date.
Outlining his country’s progress towards achieving the Goals, he noted that three out of the eight Millennium Development Goals and six out of the seventeen targets directly related to health. The significance of the Millennium Development Goals lay in the linkages between them, as they were a mutually reinforcing framework to improve overall human development. The eight Goals were synergetic and could not be achieved in isolation. In the comprehensive nature of the Goals was the recognition that development was an intersectoral and interdependent process. Shifting his attention to gender equality, he noted the significant progress his country had made in that area, with the ratio of girls to boys having declined as the country moved up the three levels of education by an increase of 16.4 per cent for primary education alone since 1993. Similarly on the environment, the number of people with sustainable access to improved sources of water had increased from 21.7 per cent in 1993-1995 to nearly 58 per cent today — an increase of 167 per cent, he stated.
Despite the challenges it faced, Eritrea was projected to achieve most of the Goals by 2015, he said. Its gratification was tempered by the realization that it was off track on the eradication of poverty and universal primary education and that the Goals were only benchmarks, rather than full development. Also, the road map rested on several important assumptions, such as resolution of its border conflict with Ethiopia.
NYAN WIN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Myanmar, said that despite some success, the progress made towards meeting the Millennium Goals remained uneven. Efforts to reach them by 2015 must be stepped up, but without substantial international support, many developing countries would not meet their targets. While the Asia-Pacific region had made significant progress, many developing countries continued to face challenges.
He said his country strove to promote better living standards through its National Development Plan, a programme focused on promoting the equitable and balanced socio-economic development of both rural and urban areas. Despite the challenges facing it, Myanmar had met many of its targets, most notably in poverty reduction, food security and the promotion of education and health. The national food security programme had helped it achieve food self-sufficiency for itself, the wider region and beyond, he said.
A large number of schools, colleges and universities had been expanded to the outer regions in order to improve access to education, he continued. School enrolment had increased “drastically” from 67.13 per cent in 1988 to 98.13 per cent in 2009. Moreover, the literacy rate had risen to 94.83 per cent in 2009, while the ratio of girls to boys in primary education had increased to 97.43 per cent in 2009. Further, great strides had been made in HIV/AIDS prevention, he said, noting that, under the National AIDS Programme, the prevalence among pregnant women aged 15-24 years had dropped from 2.78 in 2000 to 0.91 in 2009. In addition, the under-five mortality rate had been reduced by half in the last five years, and continued to decline. The death rates from malaria and tuberculosis had also declined.
PAUL OQUIST KELLEY, Minister for National Policies of Nicaragua, said that attaining the Millennium Development Goals would entail facing up to structural challenges. For example, wealth tended to concentrate in a few hands under the current economic and social model, which had worsened since the 1980s, when the Washington Consensus had pushed for deregulation, privatization and minimizing the role of the State. The result had been even greater inequality between and within countries, particularly relevant in Latin America and the Caribbean.
He said his country had managed to reduce extreme poverty despite the worst financial and economic crisis since the Great Depression. Official numbers showed that Nicaragua was halfway to achieving the Goal of ending extreme poverty, and it had also been successful in battling malnutrition. Nicaragua had in fact progressed in all indicators except HIV/AIDS, which had increased, although the country had the lowest infection rate in Central America.
Nicaraguan exports today were 30 per cent higher than they had been at the same time in 2009, he said. However, many countries faced the serious threat of a deep recession or a lost decade in terms of repaying their debts, as had happened to the Latin American and Caribbean region in the 1980s. Under present conditions, speculation had taken over and a virtual economy had replaced the real one, with financial capital so hegemonic, investments so short sighted, unemployment so high, debt so huge, the minting money so astronomical and power so concentrated that the vicious cycle would be difficult to escape. The solution lay in strengthening the democratization of international relations at the global level — the very purposes for which the United Nations had been established.
EDWARD NALBANDYAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Armenia, said security challenges had overtaken the Millennium Development Goals agenda since their adoption, a demonstration of the close link between security and development. The truth of the maxim “development is freedom” had been borne out. At the present juncture of the 15-year Millennium Goals agenda, the security implications of action must be understood at both the national and international levels, he said.
The food and financial crises of the last few years had demonstrated the interconnectedness and interdependence of today’s globalized world, he said. While Armenia had been as affected by those crises as other countries, it had continued to proceed steadily towards realizing the Goals by launching sound economic reforms and nationalizing the Goals by identifying 16 targets corresponding to country-specific priorities. That included the assurance of sustainable economic growth through reliance on competition, innovation and equal opportunity for all. Income differentials had been reduced, competition at the regional level had grown and the social security network had been strengthened, particularly in the health care and education sectors.
Concerted and coordinated effort was the path to follow in seeking the timely achievement of the Goals, including at the regional level, he said, noting, however, that the situation in Armenia’s region prevented full use of economic advantages. Existing resources were diverted from development goals, and closed borders curtailed faster development at both the regional and international levels. The creation of dividing lines would be devastating for the region, he stressed, calling for strong regional cooperation schemes based on open borders, criss-crossing communication lines and interrelated economic systems. Open borders were crucial, but that concept had yet to gain ground and understanding in the policies and approaches of some neighbours.
Reiterating how closely security and development were intertwined, he recalled that Governments had pledged in the Millennium Declaration to “spare no effort to rid the world of the scourge of war”, both within States and between them. Yet arms trafficking still threatened peace and security, as well as social and economic development. Azerbaijan was one of the countries refusing to reach agreement on the non-use of force and continued to increase its war-mongering stance. The people of Nagorny Karabakh continued their development efforts without the long-awaited international support that would help reach them realize the Millennium Goals agenda. The adoption of the outcome document of the current summit would go a long way towards bridging gaps in the implementation of the development agenda, helping to chart the way to a better, more secure and more prosperous future, he concluded.
FRANCO FRATTINI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Italy, said the current formula for international cooperation for development had worked so far because it had provided a framework for the efforts of all international stakeholders in development and helped improve living conditions in the poorest countries. However, it had also been ineffective in ensuring the fulfilment of all the Millennium Goals commitments. With the emergence of new stakeholders and global challenges, development could only come about through shared responsibility and a broader array of initiatives, he said. Donor communities would have to accelerate the Millennium Development Goals process by forging broader partnerships with non-governmental actors and developing countries.
The philosophy behind the Goals entailed a major reconsideration of the entire international agenda, he continued. Good governance and taxation, better economic and financial regulations, a more equitable distribution of wealth, tackling climate change, and market access must be given high priority or development would not be sustainable enough — a reality all the more pertinent in light of the recent financial crisis, in which European financial security had “teetered on the edge”. The Italian Government had been forced to fall short of its commitments to development due to financial constraints and European Union budget requirements. The most useful thing that Europe could do to help developing countries would be to get its own economies back on track, he said.
He stressed that one third of people living below the poverty threshold were to be found in fragile and post-conflict States, indicating that the role of peace and stability in fighting poverty could not be denied. Additionally, development was the result of deep transformation in society and of full respect for human rights. With that in mind, Italy had worked with other likeminded countries to combat female genital mutilation, and was fully committed to enhancing the campaign against such practices through a resolution of the General Assembly. He concluded by noting that food security remained a high political priority, and Italy was also particularly active in the field of innovative financial resources.
RADOSŁAW SIKORSKI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Poland, said that attaining the Millennium Development Goals would be difficult if the international community did not strengthen political will and take innovative steps. He addressed three issues for the future: the need to raise aid effectiveness and strengthen partnerships with the corporate and philanthropic sectors, devoting more attention to countries of conflict and fragility, and collectively living up to the norms underlying the Goals.
Regarding aid effectiveness, he said that few had the stomach to tackle mismanagement and high operating costs, but that they needed to “cut the fat” and redirect scarce resources to the intended recipients. He said Governments could take an example from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as proving that an institution light on bureaucracy, accountable and willing to take risks could do wonders. Also, the concept of microcredit pioneered by Nobel laureate Muhammed Yunus shared the promising faces of corporate social responsibility. He also confirmed the need to link the Millennium Development Goals to post-conflict rehabilitation efforts, pointing to Afghanistan as exemplifying the interconnection between development and security in fragile countries, and saying that, without either one, stabilization would fail.
As the 10-million strong “Solidarity” movement had done 30 years ago, each State had to take matters into its own hands and play a role in stimulating development and assisting the less fortunate, he said. He concluded by noting that, in doing its share, Poland had been increasing the level of ODA and helping to foster growth in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus.
MARIE-JOSÉE JACOBS, Minister for Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs of Luxembourg, said the fight against poverty was a long-term effort paved with obstacles. There was no shortcut or “miracle solutions” to achieving the Millennium Goals by 2015. Success took time, she said, urging Member States to remain patient while working to achieve their long-term goals. It had taken Luxembourg a century to accomplish the transition from a poor agrarian society to a modern service economy.
She acknowledged that collective actions were “precarious”, noting that Luxembourg had called for greater efforts in sectors lagging behind. The international community had not done nearly as much to fight maternal and infant mortality rates as it had done to raise primary school figures. Efforts must be stepped up, particularly since achievements in gender equality, as well as women’s and children’s health, could further the success of the other Goals. Luxembourg welcomed the creation of UN Women, which would allow a more structured and efficient global approach. She concluded by stating that her country had benefited from international solidarity, and would therefore continue its commitment as a trustworthy partner of and donor to countries in need.
CAYETANO W. PADERANGA, JR., Secretary of Socio-Economic Planning of the Philippines, said his country was on track to meet targets on child mortality, malaria and tuberculosis incidence, access to sanitation and safe potable water, and equal education for girls. However, climate change posed a threat to the attainment of the Millennium Goals because the population living above the poverty threshold was declining due to low capacity to cope with the resulting shocks.
The Philippine Government would unveil a medium-term development plan reflecting its commitment to prioritize the Goals through an appropriate mix of physical and social infrastructure, he said, adding that the plan would also provide for social safety nets and measures focusing on adaptation to climate change. Furthermore, the Plan aimed to harness partnerships between the public and private sectors, and the country would create an enabling environment to that effect.
He said the legislative branch had been proactive in building the legal foundations for the Millennium Development Goals. The House of Representatives had retained the Special Committee on the Millennium Development Goals to that end. The country had also asked the United Nations system to share its knowledge of successful development approaches, particularly in areas such as reducing poverty, dropout rates and the incidences of maternal deaths and HIV/AIDS. He urged international development partners to fulfil their financial commitments as 2015 drew near.
MAITE NKOANA-MASHABANE, Minister for International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa, said that the concept of the Millennium Development Goals dovetailed with an approach adopted by her country’s post-apartheid Government. It focused on improving living conditions by channelling resources to education, health care, housing, water, electricity, sanitation and social security benefits. For example, the Government had constructed and transferred 1.8 million houses to the poor, and restored full ownership to long-term occupants in historically black residential areas.
South Africa had integrated the Goals into a national set of 10 priorities anchored around jobs, health, education, eradication of crime and improvement of rural communities, she said. During the 2010 FIFA World Cup, President Jacob Zuma had launched the One Goal Education Campaign to draw attention to the Millennium Goals. South Africa’s assessment of its progress showed a picture of satisfactory achievement regarding Goals 1, 2, 3 and 8, but the Government was still aware of challenges regarding Goals 4, 5 and 6, which concerned health. Government programmes had been established with encouraging results, and more resources would be made available to relevant State institutions, particularly with regard to interventions on HIV and AIDS, she said.
The Millennium Development Goals must close the gap between rich and poor, she said, noting that Africa had made significant progress. However, a true global partnership had not developed and all nations needed a far greater sense of urgency if the targets were to be met. Expressing South Africa’s concern that progress in achieving the Goals remained slowest in Africa, she said: “If Africa fails to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, the world would have indeed failed.” She called on all countries to respect their ODA commitments, despite the global economic crisis, and to redouble their efforts to meet the 2015 target.
MICHEÁL MARTIN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ireland, said the Millennium Development Goals were at the heart of his country’s development programme, as well as its foreign policy. They represented a fundamental partnership between developing and developed nations and, to that end, required concerted action to mobilize resources for development. One essential element towards that end was the provision by richer countries of ODA.
He noted that, since signing up to the Millennium Declaration in 2000, Ireland had tripled the annual volume of its assistance, providing €6 billion in ODA over the past decade, while the Irish people had privately donated many millions more. The Government was committed to the international target of devoting 0.7 per cent of gross national income to ODA by 2015. There had been lessons to learn from the past 10 years of collective and individual action, he said, pointing to major success in combating extreme poverty, in improving enrolment levels in primary schools, in child health and in treating HIV and AIDS.
However, the actual numbers of people living in poverty and hunger continued to rise, he noted. It was also clear that some countries and regions had made progress while others had not. Without additional efforts and a more collaborative approach, the international community would fail to meet some of the most important targets, a challenge accentuated by global economic uncertainty, and by the growing impact of global challenges, notably climate change.
The economic crisis had simultaneously increased poverty in already poor communities and imposed pressure on aid budgets in the developed world, he said, calling for a stronger collective focus on the countries and regions making the least progress. Ireland was already directing more than 80 per cent of its development programme to sub-Saharan Africa, focusing on social protection for vulnerable communities, infant and child nutrition, innovative agricultural research, and building capacity to engage in economic activity.
MAHAMOUD ALI YOUSSOUF, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Djibouti, said it had been an inspiring and hopeful moment when the international community had agreed to meet eight goals critical to the poorest people in the world. However, the challenges remained large as the projected target date grew ever closer. While the Millennium Development Goals represented the most widely agreed commitments by world leaders — addressing extreme poverty, hunger and disease; promoting gender equality, education and environmental sustainability; and building a new global partnership for development — it was necessary to have more than mere aspirations and achieve tangible outcomes.
He went on to say that his country had adopted the Millennium Development Goals as its own primary development targets. Djibouti had introduced a comprehensive and ambitious agenda to improve the welfare and living standards of the most vulnerable in society. Progress had been made in reaching a very high primary school enrolment rate for girls, and Djibouti had tried hard to provide its citizens with universal health coverage.
The country also continued to provide free education, including extensive scholarship programmes, beyond the tertiary level, he said. It had also achieved significant progress in maternal and child health. Thanks to continuous access to long-term development loans, thousands of houses had been built to address chronic shortages in that area. Additionally, Djibouti was working to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. The Millennium Goals remained feasible so long as the international community strove to create the conditions for sustainable economic growth in order to improve livelihoods. Renewed commitment was needed from all.
SAM KUTESA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Uganda, acknowledged the global development partnership at the centre of the Millennium Development Goals as the driving force to combat poverty, but said the quest for sustainable development and peace, particularly in the developing countries, must not be separated. Success in 2015 would require economic modernization and socio-economic transformation, which required global efforts to address the “glaring” infrastructure deficits that faced developing countries.
He was encouraged that 11 of the 20 countries that had made the most progress were among the poorest nations in the world. Poverty had been reduced by two thirds in low- and middle-income countries and in over three quarters of African countries. Yet, despite the successes, the slow progress in reducing hunger was “shameful and immoral”, he said, noting that more than 1 billion people around the world continued to live in extreme poverty, a crisis that required urgent political action to surmount.
Uganda had made substantial progress towards reaching its Goals, and he noted modest achievements in the areas of child and maternal health, reproductive health and malaria. Regarding HIV/AIDS, however, he was concerned over recent data that suggested new infections were hampering gains. Success required three main areas of focus: strengthening science and technology; investing in key economic infrastructure to help spur economic growth; and increased employment for young people. In closing, he said that, while the Millennium Goals had been characterized as “the very minimum and basic” requirements for a better life, he said Uganda’s people deserved “more than what is just basic”. With that in mind, the Government reaffirmed its commitment to eliminating poverty and achieving sustainable development.
ADELINO MANO QUETA, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Guinea-Bissau, reaffirmed his country’s political will to achieve the Millennium Goals despite the serious challenges it faced. The most pressing concern was to intensify economic growth, particularly in the sectors providing basic social services to the people. Delivering health care and improving stability with regard to food security were two of those.
He said specific current indicators suggested that Goals 4 and 5, relating to child mortality and maternal health care, would not be achieved. Therefore, the Government had initiated a programme to accelerate the elaboration of strategies and the implementation of efforts to increase the delivery of assistance in those areas. For example, legislation had been introduced to address challenges in achieving those objectives by taking actions in the relevant areas. They included promoting wider access to birth control and taking stronger measures against human trafficking.
For their part, development partners must fulfil the commitments they had made to help developing countries reach the Goals, regardless of changing conditions, he said. Resources for the achievement of the Goals must be increased and funding for relevant programmes renewed, including those of the International Development Association, the World Bank and the African Development Fund. Finally, all development programmes must address conditions on the ground, he said.
MOUSSA FAKI MAHAMAT, Minister for External Relations of Chad, speaking on behalf of the President, said his country had adopted a programme to reduce poverty at an accelerated rate so as to achieve the Millennium Goals. However, the armed invasion of Chad in recent years had inhibited the development agenda, and refugees from Darfur had turned a precarious situation into a crisis. In that situation, managing the effects of climate change was the greatest challenge. The accumulation of challenges had now created a downright catastrophe.
For example, Lake Chad could very likely disappear within the current generation’s lifetime, he pointed out. It had been reduced from an area of 30,000 square kilometres to 3,000. A forum would be held in 2011 with the aim of saving the lake and a large enough participation could help reverse the situation. Chad, meanwhile, continued to work with partners in signing international environmental protection instruments and instituting national legislation towards that end. The 2009 “Green Belt” strategy had been formulated to ban the cutting of trees in order to stabilize and preserve the forest-based environment. The overall aim of the strategy was to initiate programmes promoting socio-economic development through environmental initiatives developed for the geographic areas most likely to be impacted by desertification and deforestation.
DJENABOU SAIFON DIALLO, Minister for Planning and Cooperation of Guinea, said her country had signed up to the Millennium Development Goals in September 2000 with conviction and hope. The Government and its development partners had made laudable efforts, which had resulted in progress in the areas of health, gender and infant mortality. However, progress was lacking in poverty reduction, food security and a sustainable environment, and chances of attaining the Goals had fallen in recent years due to a combination of factors, most particularly Guinea’s recent political crisis, which had resulted in the deterioration of governance and a fall in foreign aid. That had placed the country at risk of falling short on most of the Goals.
Estimating the cost for Guinea to attain the Millennium Goals at $12.254 billion for the period 2006–2015, or an annual average of $1.234 billion, she said the African continent as a whole would not be able to achieve them by 2015 due to a lack of ODA. It was therefore vital to look at all regular and supplementary funding sources, particularly through the African Conference on Innovative Financing. That forum would allow participants to consider strategies for mobilizing innovative financing to complement ODA. Concerning the struggle against the illicit flow of resources from Africa, she said it was necessary to redirect that capital towards African development.
ZALMAI RASSOUL, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan, said that at the time of the Millennium Declaration’s adoption, his country had been cut off from the global community by the “abhorrent” Taliban regime. After its overthrow, the country had slowly started to rebuild, enacting policies to reconstruct and stabilize the economic and political situations, both nationally and regionally. Because Afghanistan had been late in signing up to the Goals, its targets had been set to be achieved by 2020.
A national development strategy, finalized in 2008, incorporated the Goals into a comprehensive plan, he said, noting that, in 10 years, Afghanistan had made “enormous” strides, having emerged from war to create a functioning Government and a prosperous economy. Three days ago, the country had held its second parliamentary elections, with an unprecedented number of women candidates, voters and elected representatives.
He said that on the economic front, with 80 per cent of Afghans dependent on agriculture, the Government had worked to repair irrigation systems and build 10,000 kilometres of roads, changes which had improved agricultural productivity and trade, lifting gross domestic product growth to a record 22.5 per cent in 2009-2010. The health and education sectors had also developed significantly, thanks in large part to international assistance, he continued. Basic health coverage had expanded from 9 per cent of the population in 2003 to almost 90 per cent this year. School enrolment stood at 71 per cent.
However, security was the bedrock of development, and the enemies of peace were still attacking schools, clinics, teachers and even schoolgirls, he said. As the lowest-income country in its region, with 36 per cent of its population living in poverty, Afghanistan would never realize the Goals without assistance. A plan to reach the Goals in the next decade had been devised, but the path ahead would be difficult. The number one priority was to bring an end to conflict. Five other areas requiring attention included agriculture, rural rehabilitation, human resources development, infrastructure and governance.
FAYSSAL AL-MEKDAD, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Syria, said that 10 years had passed since the international community had laid out its vision for the new millennium. Unfortunately, statistics showed that the results had not risen to expectations. Poverty, hunger and epidemics continued to run amok, while tensions and occupation continued to threaten international peace and security.
Development for the people living under Israeli occupation in the Middle East could not improve to meet the Goals, he said. All eight Goals were a “common denominator” in facing the challenges of humanity, yet the Middle East continued to see Israel occupying Palestine, whose people suffered from hunger, poverty and repression. Additionally, 20,000 Syrians also languished under Israeli occupation in the Syrian Golan.
The non-achievement of the Millennium Development Goals could in fact be blamed on the continuing Israeli occupation, he said. Syria’s demand for peace was not a call for concessions by Israel, but rather a statement that it had usurped land that must be returned in full to its rightful owners. Syria renewed its commitment to a peace option as the only means to ensure stability and development in the Middle East.
He said that the signs of recovery in the international economic situation did not mean that the effects of the financial and economic world crisis had receded, but rather that the consequence of the crisis were being unveiled day after day, particularly in the South. The Syrian economy had many strong points, being diversified and having achieved positive results due to successive five-year development plans. On the international level, however, unilateral economic measures imposed by some States against a number of developing countries undermined the world economic order and hampered their efforts to build and grow their economies.
PAK KIL YON, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, said the international community had made efforts to achieve the Goals, but regrettably they had failed so far to reach the required stage for developing countries. Loud voices in favour of poverty eradication and sustainable development had come from one side of the globe, while rampant moves from the other included armed invasions, military threats and sanctions. One could still feel the smoke coming from Iraq and Afghanistan. To attain the Goals, a peaceful environment was imperative, and if aggression against sovereign States continued, countries would continue to suffer from hunger and poverty.
It was thus essential to make every effort to create peace by rejecting the use of force and adjusting the “inappropriate” global economic architecture, he said. Unlimited liberalization without any specific economic model should not be tolerated. International development strategies and policies, including the Goals, should be oriented to help developing nations strengthen their economies. Enhancing the role of the United Nations was important in that regard. The Organization should address inappropriate elements that had a negative impact on developing nations, and urge strict adherence to ODA commitments and the removal of inequitable trade barriers.
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had entered a new phase of building a prosperous nation, he said, noting the Government’s introduction of free medical care and free compulsory education. It was the country’s will to “open the gate” to a powerful nation by 2012. While the Korean peninsula was still technically at war, due to the hostile policy of the United States, the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had proposed that the parties concerned enter talks on replacing the armistice with a peace treaty, with a view to removing the source of threats to regional peace and stability, and improving living standards.
PAULETTE BETHEL ( Bahamas) said her country would achieve many of the goals and targets of the Millennium Development Goals. That assessment, however, did not adequately reflect the high vulnerability of the country or the macroeconomic, social and human development challenges it faced, including the global economic and financial crisis and such issues as rising levels of transnational crime, diseases and social instability. Although the Bahamas had met or surpassed the Goals regarding elimination of poverty, education, gender equality in education, provision of potable water, treatment of HIV/AIDS and management of infant and maternal mortality rates, it faced challenges regarding health and environmental sustainability, as well as gathering statistical data. Moreover, climate change threatened to undermine progress made.
She said that the role of the international community in complementing national efforts could not be overstated. Commitments under the Millennium Development Goals process must be met and the necessary resources to achieve the goals and to sustain progress must be mobilized. Accountability frameworks at all levels that consolidate global commitments must be strengthened and monitoring and enforcement mechanisms established. The importance of partnerships should be highlighted and greater collaboration promoted among Governments, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, civil society and other stakeholders, while being aware of the interrelationship between efforts to achieve the internationally agreed development goals and addressing the global economic and financial crisis and climate change.
MAGED ABDELAZIZ ( Egypt) said the global partnership for development needed to be scaled up to effectively address the international economic and financial crisis. While developing countries had adopted strategies to address poverty, one of the biggest challenges they faced was a lack of policy space to formulate the necessary anti-poverty policies. Describing Africa as the continent hardest hit by the crisis, he said the real problem lay in the lack of adequate funding due to the failure of many developed countries to live up to their commitments, in addition to using ODA for debt cancellation. The nature of the relationship between developing and developed countries must change to ensure that the former became full partners in the international economic environment.
Outlining the steps that the Egyptian Government had taken to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, he said there was room for further work in the next five years. With a multidimensional approach based on the belief that any economic reform must be accompanied by political reform, Egypt had put the well-being of the child at the heart of its social and economic development, working with United Nations partners such as the World Food Programme (WFP), the private sector and non-governmental organizations. Egypt would also host a forum on the power of nutrition and school feeding to transform the lives of children on 21‑22 February 2011, he announced, adding that the Government had been upgrading the educational system through the development of national standards.
Additionally, Egypt had established a new system of health insurance which had gradually been widened to cover all citizens, he said. As a result, the country had reduced its child mortality rate by 73 per cent and maternal mortality rate by 68 per cent. It had also taken steps to improve women’s participation in political decision-making, including by introducing a constitutional amendment that allowed the allocation of additional parliamentary seats for women. He concluded by emphasizing the need to begin thinking about a new international consensus for the period after 2015, taking into account the interests of middle-income countries, in addition to giving a voice to the developing world.
JANINE COYE-FELSON ( Belize) highlighted the risk of squandering the future of the world’s children. A child orphaned by disease or disaster, unprotected by the State, did not go to school. A child crippled by hunger or maimed by war could not go to school. For every child forced to field or shop, for every child forced to pick up a gun and not a book, the world had forsaken their future, and in so doing it had forsaken its own.
Successive studies reinforced the notion that the path to development rested with investment in children and their mothers, she said, noting that a healthy, educated mother and child embodied potential not only for themselves but for their communities. “Investment in our children and women will break the cycle of poverty,” she said. However, progress towards reducing maternal mortality was the slowest among the Millennium Development Goals.
Belize applauded and welcomed the Secretary-General’s initiative to launch the Global Strategy for Women and Children’s Health, and hoped that its scope would be expanded on the basis of vulnerability. Belize called upon the global private sector to partner in that initiative, if not because of moral suasion then because investing in female empowerment translated into economic advantages and increased profit margins. She concluded by reaffirming her country’s determination to recapture the potential of the Millennium Development Goals.
HENRY L. MAC DONALD (Suriname), reiterating his country’s commitment to attaining the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, said that required a collective approach, integrating national, regional and international cooperation. Such an approach would also be of advantage to various crucial developments in the world, such as international peace and security, sustainable development and economic integration, including through fair trade.
In that regard, he said, the achievement of Millennium Development Goal 8 on global partnerships remained a challenge, specifically since efforts to step up ODA had been set back, and the volume, quality and predictability of aid remained far lower than the agreed levels. Underlining the need for greater political commitment on the part of all donors, he explained that such political commitments must be reflected in ODA timetables, and would enable predictable and timely availability to meet the Millennium Development Goals, as had been agreed internationally.
He reiterated his country’s commitment and readiness to join the international community and partners in complementing national efforts and accelerating actions in the framework of United Nations system development activities. In the spirit of solidarity in international cooperation, Suriname was also strongly supportive of South-South and triangular cooperation as means to enhance the cross-fertilization of best practices, knowledge-sharing and capacity-building among developing countries.
DALIUS ČEKUOLIS ( Lithuania) said the current high-level meeting offered an excellent occasion for the international community to renew and refocus on the commitments made in 2000. As responsible democratic Governments, they must first and foremost respond to the worries and concerns of citizens affected by the recent economic downturn and set their economies back on track. At the same time, it was important to live up to existing development commitments and pledges so as to ensure that the Millennium Development Goals were kept on track.
He said that his country’s development cooperation was increasingly reaching out to distant regions, from Afghanistan to the Middle East. In Afghanistan, Lithuania led a provincial reconstruction team in the province of Ghor, and had carried out a number of programmes relating to Goals 4 and 5, such as vaccinations for children and women of child-bearing age, health-care services and supplementary nutrition for pregnant women.
In that context he welcomed the Joint Action Plan for Women’s and Children’s Health, initiated by the Secretary-General of the United Nations. He went on to state that the empowerment of women and their full participation at all levels of economic, political and social life was key to poverty reduction, economic recovery and prosperity, as well as to the full enjoyment of human rights by all. Full women’s participation was also essential in building vibrant and durable democracies around the world.
* *** *For information media • not an official record