Around 140 Heads of State and Government, joined by leaders from civil society organizations, foundations and the private sector, gathered today to spur action against poverty, hunger and disease at the opening session of the High-level Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly (GA) on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which will be held from 20-22 September in New York.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged world leaders to “stay true” to ensure that the Goals are met on time: “True to our identity as an international community built on a foundation of solidarity. True to your commitment to end the dehumanizing conditions of extreme poverty,” he said.
On Wednesday Mr. Ban is expected to unveil a global strategy for improving women’s and children’s health, with study after study indicating that a boost in this area will have an enormous multiplier effect across all the MDGs.
“We have more development success stories than ever before. The transformative impact of the MDGs is undeniable”, said Mr. Ban. A number of countries have achieved major successes in fighting poverty, improving school enrolment and child health, expanding access to clean water, strengthening control of diseases and providing access to HIV treatment.
The MDGs have led to a real transformation on the ground, especially in Africa: Ghana increased its food production by 40 per cent, contributing to an average 9 per cent decline in hunger between 2003 and 2005.
But progress has been uneven, and – without additional efforts – several of the Goals are likely to be missed in many countries. Just five years before the 2015 target date for achieving the Goals, the Summit comes at a crucial time to galvanize commitments and accelerate progress.
The President of the General Assembly Joseph Deiss voiced that “we have the know-how and the resources to succeed, and we can do it. But that requires commitment from the donors and commitment from the beneficiaries, leading to a genuine partnership. This partnership must also include civil society and the private sector. If we want to succeed, we have to do it together.”
The President of Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Hamidon Ali called for a stronger role for the body in monitoring commitments and accountability, by both developed and developing countries. “I hope that this role will become the central pillar for the Council in the years ahead,” he said.
The Summit gathers world leaders to review progress, identify gaps, and commit to concrete steps to reach the eight anti-poverty goals agreed to at the Millennium Summit in 2000. Leaders are expected to adopt an action agenda, including measures to be taken to advance progress on each Goal.
The meeting is convened by the UN General Assembly and chaired by the Assembly’s incoming and outgoing presidents, H.E. Joseph Deiss (Switzerland) and H.E. Dr. Ali Abdussalam Treki (Libya). The event consists of plenary meetings, thematic roundtables, a meeting of the MDG Advocacy Group and more than 80 partnership events by Governments, UN agencies and leaders from civil society, foundations and the private sector.