H.E. Mr. Marc Ravalomanana, President
23 September 2008
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MARC RAVALOMANANA, President of Madagascar, said that, despite efforts to reduce divisions between the rich and the poor, progress made thus far on the Millennium Development Goals had fallen short of the targets established. The global food, economic and security crises were threatening to push the Goals into the margins of Member States’ agendas, which would be a major mistake. States had to remain focused on achieving the Goals in order to contribute to solving some of the global issues.
The global food crisis, he continued, was partly the result of domestic agricultural subsidies and tariff protection practices by developed countries, which, for many years, had discouraged agricultural production in developing countries. The international community needed to take urgent and coordinated action to combat the negative impacts of increasing food prices on poor and vulnerable countries, and overall trade policies must foster food security for all. The international community must also help African countries to expand agriculture and food production, and to increase investment in agriculture and the infrastructure needed for rural development.
In addition to the critical food crisis, States were confronted with several other challenges: climate change, increasing energy prices and fuel shortages, unpredictable financial markets, and other threats to peace and security, he said. Such threats had a severe impact on the education, health and well-being of populations, and had a very negative impact on development as a whole. Moreover, the challenges were competing, in a sense, with the Millennium Development Goals, because many of the resources that had been dedicated to achieving the Goals were now being directed elsewhere. Such resources could be used to reconstruct countries destroyed by wars, for instance, but he did not understand how such challenges sometimes offered reasons for countries to abdicate on their promises of doubled aid for education, health and infrastructure in order to achieve the Goals in developing countries, especially in Africa.
There were many links between the Millennium Development Goals and political, economic, environmental and other challenges. Therefore, more investment towards the achievement of the Goals would contribute to addressing those other crises. In fact, improving the situation of the poorest of the poor was one of the best means to deal with them, he said. One had to realize, however, that the challenges would not be solved by simply shifting means from one problem to another.