International Conference on Financing for Development

Department of Public Information - News and Media Services Division - New York
Monterrey, NL, Mexico
18-22 March 2002

19 March 2002




"Given sufficient help and political will, it was possible to achieve the Millennium Development Goals everywhere, Harvard professor Jeffrey Sachs, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the Millennium Goals, told correspondents at a press conference in Monterrey this morning.

[The Millennium Development Goals are eight key development objectives set out in the Millennium Declaration that was endorsed by over 160 world leaders at the historic United Nations Millennium Summit in September 2000. The goals comprise time-bound global targets to improve health, education and the environment across the world, with the overarching goal of halving extreme poverty by 2015.]

Mr. Sachs said consensus had been reached on the need to spend vastly more money ($27 billion) on health. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's new Global Fund against HIV/AIDS would prove to be one of the most innovative mechanisms, he predicted. Hopefully, global communities would form consensus on other development goals, such as reducing hunger, providing access to clean water, resettling slum dwellers and protecting the environment.

He said there would be many keys to success, particularly political will, financial backing, good blueprints and effective implementation. The power of international debate and analysis had become apparent in formulating new approaches to international development assistance, and the rich countries, including the United States, were stepping up in a way that many had not done for a long time.

Mark Malloch Brown, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), reiterated the vital importance of the bargain behind the dry prose of the Monterrey consensus. The Millennium campaign was trying to inspire a sense of urgency between now and 2015, to assess country performance on each Millennium goal and to ensure that developing, as well as donor, countries received that information.

He said that while there would be a huge role in that campaign for the United Nations, World Bank and other institutions, the real energy would come from civil society. The Millennium Goals must be at the heart of politics in each country, and development assistance must become a cause on which governments in donor countries were either elected or removed. The aim was to form national coalitions to drive change, he added.

People in different countries were measuring progress and development teams were compiling reports on performance, he said. There were already reports out on Cambodia, Cameroon, Chad and Viet Nam. Regionally, Asia was on track to achieve the Millennium Goals; Latin America was falling slightly behind; and Africa and the Arab regions were declining.

Asked how the American people could be convinced that development assistance was important when the United States Congress was spending so much on defence, Mr. Sachs said every survey showed there was no resistance among the American people. They thought their Government had been doing a lot while, in fact, it had not been doing anything.

But last week, he said, President George W. Bush had told Americans clearly that the country's security and that of their children depended on development assistance. He had said that infectious diseases and ill health affected everybody on the planet and that, although poverty did not make murderers out of people, it provided the breeding ground.

Asked about the absence from the Summit segment of the Conference of key Asian leaders, including those of Japan, China, Singapore and Australia, Mr. Malloch Brown said the Conference had not been planned as a Summit and mainly finance ministers had been expected. However, contacts made by President Vicente Fox had resulted in a large turnout of heads of State and government.

How would Americans and Europeans be convinced that the elimination of farm and textile subsidies was important to the developing world? another correspondent asked. Mr. Sachs replied that the shame about the subsidies was their incredible wastefulness.

Asked what would be done about medium-income countries like Brazil and others in Latin America harmed by protectionism, Mr. Sachs said the United States policy had not been fully formulated. It was important for the country to engage with partners that were willing to adopt internal policies that made external aid effective.

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