16 September 2011
Press Conference

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Press Conference to Launch Millennium Development Goals Gap Task Force Report 2011

 


While donors continued to provide substantial resources to fund tangible improvements in the lives of millions of people around the world, there was still a troubling distance between what had been pledged and what was actually being done to help poor countries realize the Millennium Development Goals through international cooperation, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today at a Headquarters press conference.


Launching the fourth report of the Millennium Development Goals Gap Task Force, titled The Global Partnership for Development: Time to Deliver, the Secretary-General called for accelerated efforts to reach the Goals and an increased focus on sustainable development.  The sobering global economic outlook was no excuse not to deliver, he said, adding that donor countries were still less than half way to fulfilling their pledge to devote 0.7 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) to development aid.


Compounding the problem, Mr. Ban continued, was that most donors planned drastically to limit their aid in the coming years, when it would be most needed.  The Doha Round of World Trade Organization negotiations had stalled, hindering the creation of a level playing field in global trade.  While the debt situation of developing countries had improved, many were still in debt distress.  Furthermore, access to essential medicines was a challenge, he said, stressing that making them both affordable and accessible should be among the priorities of next week’s High-Level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases.


He said that despite that scenario, he took a hopeful view of the future, noting that a record $129 billion in official development assistance (ODA) had been provided in 2010.  The global campaign to realize the Millennium Goals had achieved “remarkable” progress and there was a growing awareness that breaking the cycle of poverty, hunger and disease was not just a moral obligation, but a smart investment in a shared future.  “We can close the gaps identified in the report,” he said, urging world leaders to tackle that issue with renewed attention.


Accompanying the Secretary-General were Jomo Kwame Sundaram, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development in the Department for Economic and Social Affairs, and Rob Vos, Director of Development Policy and Analysis in the same Department.


Highlighting some of the gaps in international cooperation identified in the report, Mr. Sundaram pointed out that the pledge to commit 0.7 per cent of GDP to ODA had been made more than four decades ago.  Yet, actual delivery in 2010 had stood at only 0.32 per cent — less than half the target, he noted.


The Assistant Secretary-General went on to recall that during the 2005 G-8 Summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, the world’s leading industrialized countries had pledged a $50 billion increase in aid to poor nations by 2010.  However, actual delivery had reached only $29 billion, a 42 per cent shortfall.  Similarly, they had pledged to raise ODA to Africa to $64 billion, an increase of $25 billion, but only $46 billion had been delivered — a 28 per cent shortfall.


On sustainability, he said that while members of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Debt Initiative had seen “reasonable” success, the recent spate of sovereign debt crises had underlined the need to create a “sovereign debt workout framework”, of which the United Nations had long been an advocate.  Affordable and equitable access to new technologies — especially to address food crises or climate change mitigation and adaptation — was also vital, he emphasized.


With regard to affordable access to essential medicines, he recalled that in 2009, only 42 per cent of public facilities and 64 per cent of private facilities had provided it.  In public facilities, patients were paying 2.7 times the international reference prices for medicines, and in private facilities, they were paying 6.1 times the reference prices.  “In other words, we’ve not really made significant progress in ensuring affordable access to essential medicines,” the Assistant Secretary-General noted, adding that much more remained to be done.


Asked whether any sub-Saharan African country had achieved full access to developed-country markets, Mr. Vos said no country had achieved 100 per cent market access.  It was not so much an issue for African countries to address, but one for the countries providing the access.


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For information media • not an official record