11 January 2008 Addressing the largest bloc of developing countries at the United Nations, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today stressed that development should not be “a privilege of the few, but a right for all.”
“That right has been made clear over the past two decades, as the world agreed on a set of ambitious, but achievable, development goals,” Mr. Ban told the Group of 77 developing countries and China – commonly known as the “G77” – at a ceremony at which the group’s chairmanship was handed over from Pakistan to Antigua and Barbuda.
Mr. Ban added that these objectives have been captured in the UN Development Agenda, including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the pledges made by world leaders to slash poverty, hunger, disease and illiteracy by 2015.
He noted that strong economic growth in recent years has put many developing countries in a better position to achieve the MDGs by the target date of 2015. “But it is clear that growth alone is far from sufficient to meet the Goals,” the Secretary-General stressed, adding that “much more needs to be done in the next seven years if we are to win our race to the Goals on time.”
While extreme poverty is declining at the global level, millions of people are still trapped in structural poverty and go hungry every day, he said. In addition, the number of people living on less than $1 a day in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa continues to rise.
Mr. Ban called for moving from “rhetoric to reality” to expand the level of international commitment to reduce poverty and eliminate social exclusion. “Countries must work hard to ensure that their most vulnerable citizens attain a stronger voice and better quality of life.”
At the global level, the international system must become more responsive to the needs of developing countries, particularly in the areas of trade, finance, technology transfer and migration, he noted. It is also important to improve and strengthen the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), responsible for coordinating work in these fields.
“We must be bold if we are to better serve Member States and meet the needs of humanity,” he stressed.
For his part, Mr. Ban said he will continue efforts to “put the UN on a new track” so that it can better meet the daunting challenges ahead, including by moving forward with reform, by delivering more effectively on development, and by taking action on climate change and on the other issues on the world body’s agenda.