DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL, ADDRESSING STEERING GROUP, SAYS 2008 SHOULD BE MORE THAN A MERE MIDPOINT TO ATTAINMENT OF MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS

22 September 2008
DSG/SM/414-AFR/1751-DEV/2679

DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL, ADDRESSING STEERING GROUP, SAYS 2008 SHOULD BE MORE THAN A MERE MIDPOINT TO ATTAINMENT OF MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS

22 September 2008
Deputy Secretary-General
DSG/SM/414
AFR/1751
DEV/2679
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL, ADDRESSING STEERING GROUP, SAYS 2008 SHOULD BE MORE


THAN A MERE MIDPOINT TO ATTAINMENT OF MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS


Following is the text of UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro’s side event on the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Africa Steering Group and the Gleneagles Scenario Approach to scaling up official development assistance (ODA) today, 22 September, in New York:


I am really happy to be with you today and I am pleased to see friends from the MDG Africa Working Group which I chair.  It is indeed a challenge to discuss the development needs of a vast and diverse continent in a single day. 


But we can seize this opportunity to look forward and focus our attention on accelerating the process towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals.  The Goals have brought the world together around a shared agenda for development that features time-bound targets and clear indicators to assess our progress in reaching them.


In 2002, we met in Monterrey and reached a consensus on how the world would finance the achievement of the Goals.  In 2005, we gathered at the World Summit for the first comprehensive review of the Millennium Declaration.  To further progress, we considered detailed assessments of the planning and financing required to meet the MDGs internationally and at the country level.  And we reached understandings on the need for country-level calendars for the provision of this financing.


The year 2005 also saw the establishment of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, which outlined five key principles to make this financing more effective, predictable and able to be monitored.


The year, dear friends, also witnessed the conclusion of the Group of 8 Gleneagles commitment to more than double annual official development assistance to Africa, increasing it by $25 billion in real 2004 terms by 2010.  At the same time, the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative was established to deliver faster and deeper debt relief.


This year, 2008, marks the next chapter in our concerted international effort to make poverty history —- not just in Africa, but throughout the world.  This year, we stand at the midpoint between the adoption of the MDGs in the year 2000 and the target for their attainment in 2015.


The terrain of international development is radically changed from the landscape we faced at the turn of the Millennium.  The process I just outlined has borne much fruit:  in contrast with 2000, we now have a comprehensive set of agreed goals; detailed cost estimates of these goals; and well thought-out programmes, projects and policies to accelerate poverty reduction. 


I am happy to see that most of you have received the Steering Group report.  We also have time-bound commitments on financing accompanied by new funding windows and extended debt relief.  We have extensive studies on how this financing can be delivered most effectively.


We have witnessed rapid progress towards the Goals in countries where Government leadership is accompanied by the appropriate domestic policies, and financial and technical support from the international community, the private sector and civil society actors.


It is now a timely moment to ask what more needs to be done.  How can we take concrete action to ensure that 2008 is not just a midpoint on our path towards reaching the MDGs, but is instead a profound turning point in our efforts to reach these Goals?


This question is particularly pertinent in Africa, where progress towards the Goals still remains too slow.  While we have seen significant achievements in the areas of health and child immunization, on current trends, no African country is likely to achieve all the Goals.


Secretary-General Ban [Ki-moon] has called for an effective and immediate response from all of us -— African Governments, the international community, the private sector and civil society actors, so that progress is sustained and the remaining challenges effectively addressed, even as countries face high food and fuel prices and the increasingly visible impacts of climate change. 


We know the Goals remain achievable in Africa, with concerted action by African Governments and their development partners.  It is in this spirit that the Secretary-General convened the MDG Africa Steering Group, exactly a year ago, in September 2007.


The MDG Africa Steering Group brings together the heads of the African Union, African Development Bank Group, European Commission, Islamic Development Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the World Bank.  I chair the working group that supports the Secretary-General’s Steering Group.


Together, they have endorsed a broad set of recommendations.  These recommendations, released in June, carry the important endorsement of the African Union members, given at the July Summit in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.


Through the recommendations, the Steering Group has provided clear guidance on the steps needed to attain the MDGs in the five key areas of agriculture and food security; education; health; infrastructure and trade facilitation; and in national statistical systems.  The guidance also provides the necessary elements on the financial requirements.


The recommendations stress the need for Africa’s development partners to deliver in a coherent and predictable manner through enhanced collaboration.


The key challenge now is how we ensure that the Steering Group’s recommendations are implemented.  In this regard, the Gleneagles Scenarios are important tools.


We have seen African countries, through clearly articulated national strategies, improve their macroeconomic performance and mobilize domestic resources towards financing development priorities.  The challenge remains the availability of external financing through delivery of aid.


The country-level work on the Gleneagles Scenarios is our attempt, with Member States and our multilateral partners, to catalyse new ODA flows.  These Scenarios provide us with concrete evidence that increased aid can be absorbed and spent on scaled-up development projects and programmes.


I congratulate the United Nations Development Programme on the critical role it has played in launching the Gleneagles Scenarios.  I am particularly pleased with the great collaboration that Member States, the African Union, the African Development Bank, IMF and the World Bank have shown in carrying this work forward.


I also wish to express my sincere appreciation to our distinguished representatives from Benin and Rwanda for sharing their national experiences with us today.


I believe our shared work on the Gleneagles Scenarios will allow us to look back on 2008.  Looking back, I hope we will appreciate how creative and determined we have been in our efforts to achieve the MDGs.


I would like to underscore that the MDG Africa Steering Group’s recommendations and the Gleneagles Scenarios are open-source models that can be adopted and implemented by anyone.  I encourage you, Excellencies, to take them on as your own agenda for faster poverty alleviation in Africa.


I wish you successful discussions and thank you for your kind attention.


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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.