UN chief urges G20 to 'not balance budgets on the backs of the poorest'

Goal 5 of the MDGs: improve maternal health

26 June 2010 – Despite rising budget deficit and severe fiscal problems, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged leaders of the Group of 20 (G20) industrialized and developing economies to take urgent steps to help the poor and vulnerable make ends meet through investment.

“Under any circumstances we must not balance budgets on the backs of the world's poorest people,” the Secretary-General told leaders of the G20 at a working dinner in Toronto, Canada.

Mr. Ban has been taking part in the two-day summit to highlight the need for world leaders to step up efforts to eradicate poverty and achieve the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for reducing extreme poverty and hunger, improving health and education, empowering women and ensuring environmental sustainability by 2015.

Speaking at the working dinner, Mr. Ban said Governments had to mobilize investments and could not depend on consumption alone to recover from the global downturn.

He urged world leaders to invest in three areas of high return which he identified as agriculture, green recovery and health systems.

“Healthy populations, particularly women and children can leverage countries out of poverty,” Mr. Ban said, calling for concrete commitments for the recently released Joint Action Plan for Women's and Children's Health.

Experts say the plan will require $15 billion for immediate implementation in the 49 least developed countries, and up to $45 billion per year by 2015.

“Let us be determined to turn these three areas of high-return investments into a reality. Tomorrow, the G-20 can make clear its intention to do so.”

Mr. Ban will convene a high-level summit at the UN Headquarters in New York in September to press countries to accelerate efforts to try to achieve the MDGs.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Ban met on the sidelines with Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia. In addition to discussing the summit and the MDGs, Mr. Ban thanked the Prime Minister for his leadership in co-chairing the Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing.

Mr. Ban also met privately with President Lee Myung-bak of the Republic of Korea. The two leaders discussed topics related to the MDGs, as well as nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation, Sri Lanka and Myanmar.

Mr. Ban is scheduled to hold additional bilateral meetings tomorrow, in addition to taking part in the main discussions at the summit.


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