Anti-poverty goals are ambitious but doable, Ban stresses ahead of MDG summit

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

13 September 2010 – The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are formidable and ambitious but still achievable, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today as he urged the world’s leaders to direct their countries’ resources to the areas where they are needed most in the fight against poverty, hunger and disease.

In a call to action a week before nearly 140 heads of State and government are expected to gather at United Nations Headquarters in New York for a summit measuring progress on the MDGs, Mr. Ban told journalists that it is clear that the targets can be achieved by their 2015 deadline with the right amount of will and effort.

“The MDGs are difficult and ambitious, but doable,” he said. “Many poor countries have made enormous progress. The world as a whole is on track to reduce poverty by half by 2015 – a tremendous achievement.”

But Mr. Ban acknowledged that many countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, are falling short of the targets.

“Inequities are growing within and among countries. Too often, global economic management neglects the poor and vulnerable. And the money we need – even though it is modest – is not yet there, a problem compounded by the economic crisis. Our challenge is to put our resources where they will have the greatest impact: education, jobs, health, smallholder agriculture, infrastructure and green energy.”

The three-day summit on the MDGs, convened by the General Assembly, kicks off in New York next Monday and is expected to attract not only heads of State and governments but dozens of representatives from civil society groups, foundations and the private sector.

Mr. Ban said today that he would use the summit to launch a global strategy for women’s and children’s health, one of the target areas in the MDGs.

“No area has more potential to set off a ripple effect – a virtuous cycle – across the Goals than women’s health and empowerment. All the key players have lined up behind this effort.”

The Secretary-General said he had been “very encouraged by the strong support” shown by UN Member States for the summit.

“Next week’s summit is meant to propel us forward for the next five years… Time and again, whatever the issue, we have seen the difference that high-level political engagement can make. I look forward to what world leaders will do here next week. In this race against time, we all have promises to keep.”

The MDGs were formed in 2000 at the Millennium Summit in New York, with world leaders pledging to do their utmost to try to attain the goals by 2015. The targets include slashing poverty, fighting disease, halting environmental degradation and boosting health.


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