Minding the Gap
16 September 2011, New York
If the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are to be achieved, a serious shortfall in funding must be addressed. This is the stark revelation of the UN’s MDG Gap Task Force report, released today in New York. Introducing the report, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon underlined the importance of the report’s findings, saying “we cannot afford to leave the poor even further behind.”
The report explains how the 2008 economic downturn continues to hamper the fight against poverty. In many developing nations an additional 1.5 per cent of gross domestic product needs to be allocated towards attaining the MDGs, and this considerable commitment is not receiving sufficient support from donors. The report outlines that although financial assistance has increased, it is still only half way towards the target of 0.7 per cent of the gross national income of traditional donor nations.
These circumstances must also be viewed in the context of trade. In response to the financial crisis, many states erected trade barriers and tariffs. The report urges that these be removed, and that countries most in need of revenue from exports be able to access markets without facing tariffs. While the report notes positive momentum, as commerce between developing nations is growing, it encourages developed nations to take steps to review the duties and quotas imposed on goods they import.
The issue of debt sustainability is also a major feature of the report, as debt relief initiatives were undermined by the financial turmoil. The International Monetary Fund recently identified 19 countries facing severe financial pressures brought on by debt. The report notes that eight of the countries mentioned had made significant progress on debt until the 2008 crisis.
These circumstances, which show that many of the obstacles to development are growing, make clear the critical importance of the gap between what was promised, and what has been delivered thus far. The Secretary-General invited developed countries in particular to grasp the opportunity to make the MDGs a reality, summing up the message of the report as a challenge to “the international community and other stakeholders to intensify their efforts to realize the potential of the global partnership for development.”