SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES ‘GROUP OF EIGHT’ LEADERS TO SUPPORT ACTION TO ATTAIN MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS
Following is the text of remarks by Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the Millennium Development Goals at the Group of Eight Summit (afternoon working session) in Evian, France, on 1 June:
Sustained growth and development require not only sound national and global economic policies and the absence of conflict nationally and regionally, but also a universal sense of global security. The investments in counter-terrorism need to be complemented by actions at the international level, for example in the area of trade, to restore the relatively optimistic global political mood that prevailed when the Millennium Declaration was adopted.
We face many development challenges, but it is no good tackling them piecemeal. Each of them affects all the others. We need to tackle them all together, with a common strategy, a clear timetable, and measurable targets.
Fortunately, we already have them: the eight Millennium Development Goals -- or MDGs –- adopted by all nations less than three years ago, and confirmed at last year’s conferences in Monterrey and Johannesburg as the core agenda of international development cooperation. Allow me to remind you that some of you were at Monterrey last year, and all of your countries signed on to this agenda.
You may recall that you also asked me to issue periodic progress reports. So how are we doing? Let me give you a few highlights from the scorecard:
-- The proportion of people living in extreme poverty has actually increased in Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, central and eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Only East Asia and the Pacific are on pace to meet the poverty Goal, while South Asia is making good progress.
-- Africa, South Asia and the Arab States need to greatly accelerate their progress if they are to achieve universal primary education.
-- Progress in promoting gender equality and empowering women has been made in all regions, but sub-Saharan Africa lags behind. The same holds true for efforts to reduce child mortality.
-- Only two countries –- Thailand and Uganda -- have managed to reverse the spread of AIDS once it reached crisis proportions.
-- Many regions are making progress in upgrading slums, improving access to safe drinking water, and integrating the principles of sustainable development into policies and programmes. But in some places, such as East Asia, efforts to ensure environmental sustainability are far too slow.
As you can see, formidable challenges lie ahead if we are to even come close to meeting the Goals. As for the eighth Goal –- to develop a global partnership for development -- this meeting can make an important difference.
Of course, development goals have to be attained mainly in, and by, developing countries. Many of them are putting the MDGs at the centre of their development strategies. And they are applying the very policy prescriptions that you, the G-8 countries, have asked for. Their efforts deserve your support, since most cannot reach the MDGs on their own.
They need deeper and faster debt relief, so that even more spending can be shifted from debt service to basic needs.
They need better access to global markets, which means a Doha Round that lowers agricultural subsidies , ensures that poor people have access to affordable medicine, and brings down barriers to imports from poor countries. This Round also needs to ensure that poor people have access to affordable medicine.
I trust you have a good discussion on Doha at lunch today.
And they need more and better aid -- official development assistance that helps them carry out good-faith domestic reforms. Most of you, I know, have really shown your commitment by increasing aid and, while we are still far from our goal of finding the extra 50 billion dollars a year that is needed, at aminimum, to achieve the MDGs, I think it’s a very good signal that we must continue.
I know you are looking at a number of innovative ideas, such as the International Finance Facility proposed by Gordon Brown.
Also new and innovative partnerships have come out of Johannesburg, especially in the area of water and sanitation, and we applaud the Wwater Funding initiative of the European Union.
But we also need a healthy growing economy. And the countries around this table, which represent the larger economies both from the North and the South, have a special responsibility to steer the global economy and pull all countries along with them.
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