At UN forum, leaders pledge to address Africa’s development needs

63rd General Assembly President, Mr. d'Escoto Brockmann

22 September 2008 – World leaders meeting at the United Nations today have underscored the urgency of finding solutions to the major challenges facing Africa, and have recommitted themselves to a global partnership to help the continent halve poverty, illiteracy and other socio-economic ills by 2015.

Member States participating in the high-level meeting of the General Assembly on Africa’s development needs also stressed that poverty eradication, particularly in Africa, is the “greatest global challenge facing the world today,” according to a political declaration adopted at the end of the day-long event.

They noted that, despite recent considerable improvements, the full and timely achievement of the global anti-poverty targets that make up the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) “remains elusive.”

While welcoming the commitments made by Africa and its partners so far, participants recommitted themselves to “reinvigorate and strengthen a global partnership of equals… with the explicit objective of turning existing commitments into concrete actions.”

In doing so, they committed to strengthen support for the implementation of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) – the continent’s overarching framework for socio-economic sustainable development.

The declaration highlights a number of areas where further efforts are needed, including the mobilization of resources, debt forgiveness, tackling HIV/AIDS and other diseases, and boosting conflict resolution, as well as addressing the impacts of climate change and the global food crisis.

“Africa’s challenges are still enormous. Brave as its nations may be – and we know that they are brave indeed – Africa cannot move ahead on its own,” Assembly President Miguel D’Escoto said, as he opened the meeting this morning.

“To consolidate the progress made and reach our goal of empowering Africa to meet the development challenges it faces, all of us in the international community, especially donor countries and the Bretton Woods institutions, must fully honour our commitments and substantially complement the efforts of the African nations,” he stated.

A new report by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, released ahead of today’s meeting, showed that while most of Africa’s economies are now growing more rapidly than they did a decade ago, the continent remains “off track” in its quest to achieve the MDGs.

“No one is more alarmed than you at the current trends, which indicate that no African country will achieve all the Goals by 2015,” Mr. Ban told the Assembly. “But I am convinced that through concerted action by African governments and their development partners, the MDGs remain achievable in Africa.”

He noted that it will cost an estimated $72 billion per year in external financing to achieve the Goals by 2015. “This price tag may look daunting. But it is affordable, and falls within existing aid commitments,” he added.

Today’s meeting, which included a series of round-table discussions, was held ahead of a high-level gathering to be convened by Mr. Ban and Mr. D’Escoto on 25 September to review progress to date, identify gaps and commit to concrete steps to ensure that all countries can achieve the MDGs.


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