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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

UN Headquarters

31 July 2007


Remarks at the launch by the Prime Minister of the UK of a new initiative on the Millennium Development Goals

Thank you very much, Mr. Prime Minister, for your rousing, inspiring and visionary words. And I am very much encouraged by your strong commitment and support for the Millennium Develoment Goals, and for peace and security initiatives around the world, including on Darfur.

Good morning, everyone -- and welcome to our common house, Mr. Prime Minister. It is a profound honour for me to welcome you to the United Nations on your first visit as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

Let me also welcome our dear colleague Ambassador Jones-Parry, and assure him that when he leaves New York in a few days' time, after the Prime Minister's visit, it will be not 'goodbye' but 'au revoir'. Sir Emyr, if I could pronounce it, I would say to you the Welsh equivalent of “au revoir” and above all, “thank you for everything”. But since Welsh is even more difficult than French, I will settle for our shared attempts at the Queen's English.

Let me equally welcome our distinguished audience, bringing together partners and allies from Government, civil society and the private sector.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Since I took office as Secretary-General, Gordon Brown and I have enjoyed a close and productive relationship on all aspects of our common mission for development -- first while he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, and now in his capacity as Prime Minister.

Prime Minister, I have long been moved and impressed by your deep and genuine commitment to development; by your understanding that development is not a charitable ideal, but a means to build a better and safer world for all; by your concrete actions to promote development through aid, trade and debt relief; by your pioneering initiatives on health and education, and the priority you are giving to climate change.

All of us in the UN are grateful for your personal contribution to our reform effort to create a more coherent United Nations in the 21st century -- a UN able to deliver as one in development, the environment and humanitarian affairs.

Today, we in the UN have even more reason to be grateful to you, Prime Minister, with the launch of this important initiative on the Millennium Development Goals.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The 2015 target date for the MDGs is a goalpost that cannot be moved. As we reach the halfway point to that date, the clock is ticking louder every day. To reach the Goals on time, we have to take concerted action now. Let us keep the promise. Let us infuse our mission with the urgency it requires.

Yes, we are seriously off track on some of the Goals. Some regions are further behind than others. Some say we will not make it. But I say we still can.

Look at the progress so far in many countries. Look at the know-how the international community possesses. Look at the way developing countries have integrated the Goals in their poverty reduction strategies. Look at the massive expressions of support around the world that have come together in movements like the Global Call to Action against Poverty.

And look at the heavy-weights that have joined forces behind the Prime Minister's initiative today -- in this hall and around the world -- from developed and developing countries, from Governments and the private sector.

You are all crucial in stepping up the pace, so that we reach the Goals on time.

To do that, we need to strengthen the partnership between developing and developed countries -- the pact that forms the lifeblood of the goals.

We need to tap fully into the innovative and bold contributions of all allies and partners, including business, civil society and faith groups.

And we need to translate our efforts into tangible results where they matter most. In school enrolment for the millions of children who are not yet in school. In better preventive care for women who otherwise risk dying in childbirth. In HIV prevention and treatment programmes that are sure to reach everyone, especially women, young people and the most vulnerable.

This mid-point is a time to assess how we can best do all that. That is why the Prime Minister has proposed a summit-level meeting here at the United Nations for next year.

To make such an event a success, the entire membership of the UN will need to be fully engaged in preparations and the follow-up. The private sector and civil society will need to join forces with us in shaping and implementing the outcome. And we will need to build the best possible synergy with other events next year -- the Group of Eight and the Economic and Social Council's annual ministerial review in July, and the meeting on financing for development in December. For my part, I stand ready to advance the consultation process.

Dear friends,

The Millennium Development Goals belong to all of us. We all need to feel part of this initiative. For the next seven and a half years, every day is a new day for us to make a difference for millions of people around the world. I thank the Prime Minister again for his commitment, and am grateful that I will work in partnership with him as we advance towards the finishing line.

Thank you very much.