Ban holds talks with economists on impact of financial crisis on poverty goals

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (4th left) poses for a group photo with world economists

23 October 2008 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met today with five eminent economists and the head of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to discuss the impact of the global financial crisis on UN efforts to achieve the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The 90-minute informal meeting at UN Headquarters in New York focused on prospects for the world economy, and how the present financial crisis will affect emerging economies and those of the least developed countries (LDCs), a UN spokesperson told journalists.

Mr. Ban, UNDP Administrator Kemal Dervis and the economists also discussed financing for development, the international reserve system, trade, the regulatory role that multilateral institutions can play and reforms of the existing institutions.

The participating economists were Joseph Stiglitz of Columbia University; Kenneth Rogoff of Harvard University; Dani Rodrik of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard; Nancy Birdsall, President of the Centre for Global Development, a think tank; and Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia.

The UN spokesperson said the 15 November meeting of world leaders in Washington, convened by United States President George W. Bush and to be attended by Mr. Ban, was also discussed at today’s talks, as was the upcoming conference in Doha at the end of next month that will review progress on financing for development.

The financial crisis will be further discussed tomorrow at the regular meeting of the Chief Executives Board (CEB), which will be attended by the heads of the various UN specialized agencies and by the chiefs of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), otherwise known as the Bretton Woods institutions.

In recent weeks Mr. Ban has repeatedly stressed the need for global leadership to help ensure that the battle to achieve the MDGs, which aim to halve extreme poverty and other ills, by their target date of 2015 is not forgotten by countries as they seek to shore up their own economic and financial systems.

“Now more than ever we must be bold. In these times of crisis, when we are tempted to look inward, it is precisely the time when we must move pursuit of the common good to the top of the agenda,” Mr. Ban said in a speech delivered earlier this week at Harvard.

He later added: “While recently we have heard much in this country about how problems on Wall Street are affecting innocent people on Main Street, we need to think more about those people around the world with no streets. Wall Street, Main Street, no street – the solutions devised must be for all.”

In addition, the world cannot afford to delay action on the issue of climate change, which Mr. Ban called “the ultimate global and existential threat.” He urged countries to conclude a new comprehensive climate deal that can be ratified and in place before the current commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol ends in 2012.


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