Confident that Despite Uneven Progress, Setbacks, Millennium Development Goals Can Still Be Achieved by 2015, Leaders Adopt ‘Action Agenda’ on Way Forward
Confident that Despite Uneven Progress, Setbacks, Millennium Development Goals Can Still Be Achieved by 2015, Leaders Adopt ‘Action Agenda’ on Way Forward
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fifth General Assembly
8th & 9thMeetings (AM & PM)
Confident that Despite Uneven Progress, Setbacks, Millennium Development Goals
Can Still Be Achieved by 2015, Leaders Adopt ‘Action Agenda’ on Way Forward
As General Assembly High-level Review of Progress to Meet Goals
Concludes, Secretary-General Pledges to ‘Promote Accountability on All Sides’
Amid concern that the historic promise made 10 years ago to free millions of people from the injustice of extreme poverty, hunger and disease would ring hollow without a renewed political push for success, world leaders today concluded the United Nations General Assembly meeting to review the Millennium Development Goals with a solemn pledge to take concerted action to unleash transformational change.
Adopting a sweeping outcome document at the end of the high-level meeting — “Keeping the Promise: United to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals” (document A/65/L.1) — the leaders set out an action agenda to reach the Goals by 2015. Underscoring the centrality of Goal 8, which calls for creating a global partnership for development, they expressed deep concern that efforts had fallen far short of what was needed, and said: “We are convinced that the [Goals] can be achieved, including in the poorest countries, with renewed commitment, effective implementation and intensified collective action by all Member States and other relevant stakeholders.”
Indeed, the Goals were never meant to be a one-way street, something that rich countries did for poor ones, said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who immediately hailed the Assembly’s action and congratulated the political leaders attending the three-day event for laying a solid foundation for the world’s quest to achieve the Goals. Moreover, the action agenda they had approved provided a road map for dramatically accelerating progress, and he was encouraged that States had used the summit to reaffirm concrete support.
All key issues had been placed on the table, he said; jobs, inclusive development, the Doha trade agenda and women’s health and empowerment to name a few. All those topics and more were now at the forefront of the international community’s attention. Many participants had committed to launch new initiatives, and with only five years left before the deadline, “we must hold each other accountable”.
General Assembly President Joseph Deiss (Switzerland), who, along with former Assembly President Ali Abdussalam Treki (Libya), co-chaired the meeting, said the outcome document reaffirmed that achieving the Goals was a moral duty. New proposals and commitments had been made to support that renewed commitment. Among other things, official development assistance (ODA) would be increased, innovative financing developed and domestic resources mobilized. To consolidate progress, a greater investment must be made in the areas of disaster prevention and risk reduction, he said.
To stay engaged over the next five years, States, by the text, requested the Assembly to annually review progress made towards achieving the Goals, including in the implementation of the outcome document. The President of the Assembly’s sixty-eighth session was requested to organize a special event in 2013 to follow up on those efforts.
States also reaffirmed that the Economic and Social Council was the principle United Nations body for the coordination of and follow-up to the Goals, particularly through its Annual Ministerial Review and Development Cooperation Forum. The Secretary-General was requested to report annually on progress until 2015 and to recommend steps, in his annual reports, to advance the United Nations development agenda beyond the 2015 deadline.
Further by the outcome document, the Assembly noted that, in a globalized world, the scope for domestic policies, especially for trade and investment, was framed by global market considerations, and that it was for each Government to evaluate the trade-off between accepting international rules, on one hand, and the constraints posed by the loss of policy space, on the other. In a common pursuit of growth, poverty eradication and sustainable development, a critical challenge would be to ensure the necessary internal conditions for mobilizing domestic resources.
The document’s action plan also committed the Assembly to specific measures related to each of the eight Goals: eradicate extreme poverty and hunger (Goal 1); achieve universal primary education (Goal 2); promote gender equality and women’s empowerment (Goal 3); reduce child mortality (Goal 4); improve maternal health (Goal 5); combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases (Goal 6); ensure environmental sustainability (Goal 7) and develop a global partnership for development (Goal 8).
While all were interdependent, making headway hinged on Goals 1 and 8, some speakers said during the course of the debate, painting a mixed picture of results since 2000. Voicing the concerns of many aid recipients, Ralph E. Gonsalves, Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, said: “Platitudes through the years had left some feeling short-changed and sceptical.” Standards for Goal 8 were those most woefully unmet. As developing countries struggled to advance in a difficult economic climate, their partners had replaced pledges of assistance with empty rhetoric.
Poor countries had received $120 billion in 2009, far short of the $300 billion promised. Commitments made to Africa in 2005 by major donors at the Gleneagles G-8 Summit remained today $20 billion short. “Somehow, we are expected to soldier on, with less assistance than promised,” he said. Achieving the Goals was at a critical juncture; they would not be reached without reducing the credibility gap. For the next five years, building a solid, credible partnership must be the engine of development.
United States President Barack Obama said it was high time to put to rest the old myth that development was mere charity and that certain countries were condemned to perpetual poverty. Today’s world was one in which a disease such as smallpox had been eradicated after ravaging people the world over throughout history. It was one in which countries such as China and India were leaders in the global economy, where the doors of education had been opened to tens of millions of children, boys and girls, where diseases such as malaria and HIV/AIDS were down and access to drinking water was up.
Laying out his Government’s new global development policy, which would target incentives for economic growth, he said the final pillar of that approach would be to insist on greater responsibility. “We need to be big-hearted, but also hard-headed in making commitments.” The United States would put an end to hollow, unmet promises. The moment of taking responsibility had arrived for developing countries as well. “We can be partners, but you must lead.” No nation could do everything everywhere and still do it well. There was now an opportunity to forge a new division of labour for the new century. “Together, we can collaborate in ways unimaginable just a few years ago,” he said. “Together, we can deliver historic leaps in development.”
Also today, the Chairpersons of the six round tables held alongside the high-level plenary meeting summed up those discussions, which were respectively on the themes of poverty, hunger and gender equality (round table I); health and education (round table II); promoting sustainable development (round table III); emerging issues (round table IV); addressing the needs of the most vulnerable (round table V); and widening and strengthening partnerships (round table VI).
Presenting the respective summaries of those discussions were Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh; Gert Rosenthal (Guatemala); Etta Elizabeth Banda, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Malawi; Tarja Halonen, President of Finland; Winston Baldwin Spencer, Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Antigua and Barbuda; and Tiina Intelmann (Estonia).
Former General Assembly President Treki also made closing remarks.
Also addressing the Assembly today were the Heads of State of Ukraine, Sri Lanka, Latvia, Slovakia, Panama, Central African Republic, Costa Rica, Kyrgyzstan, Chile, Peru, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Prime Ministers of Iceland, Netherlands, Romania, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Bulgaria, Albania, Antigua and Barbuda, Mongolia, China, Denmark and Japan also spoke.
The Vice-President of the Federated States of Micronesia and the Special Envoy of the President of the Republic of Korea also addressed the Assembly.
The Deputy Prime Ministers of Malta and the United Kingdom also spoke, as did the Foreign Ministers of Kazakhstan, Libya, Uruguay, Congo, Gambia, Brunei Darussalam, India, Andorra, El Salvador, Australia, Algeria, Ghana and Portugal.
Also speaking was the Deputy Foreign Ministers of Argentina and Paraguay, as well as ministers from Côte d’Ivoire and Brazil.
Also participating were the representatives of Tuvalu, Papua New Guinea and Senegal.
Speaking as observers were representatives of the Palestinian National Authority; Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), International Organization for Migration (IOM), International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), International Olympic Committee (IOC), International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Asian Development Bank (ADB), Sovereign Military Order of Malta, Partners in Population and Development, Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean, Commonwealth Secretariat and the Common Fund for Commodities.
From civil society were representatives of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, International Chamber of Commerce (India Chapter) and the Friendship across Frontiers of China.
The Assembly will reconvene at 9 a.m. on Thursday, 23 September, to begin its annual general debate.
The General Assembly met today to continue and conclude its high-level plenary meeting on the Millennium Development Goals.
VIKTOR YANUKOVYCH, President of Ukraine, said solidarity between States, mutual support and responsibility were essential to the world’s well-being and he reaffirmed the will of Ukraine’s new political leadership to reach the Millennium Development Goals. Reforms, initiated by him, and the Government’s action plan had a social orientation and were closely associated with the Goals’ implementation. Ukraine had started systemic structural reforms to establish a modern technology-based economy, as well as to ensure high living standards and to protect the most vulnerable. The Goals were both a guideline and system of priorities to implement the reforms, as they reflected the most dramatic problems the country faced today.
Achieving the Goals was a major target for the economy, he said, adding that Ukraine had also established its own national targets that were higher than the international targets. It had adopted sectoral and intersectoral programmes to implement the Goals. Ukraine had submitted to the United Nations its national report on the Goals and, in general, was meeting its objectives within the Millennium Development Goals framework. Most importantly, by increasing the minimum social standards, Ukraine had reduced the number of people living below the poverty line. It also had done quite well in education and health care, with a reduction in child mortality and improvement in maternal health. Special efforts must be focused on HIV/AIDS.
With the pre-crisis sources of rapid growth exhausted, Ukraine could only achieve sustainable development by improving its economic competitiveness and creating a balanced social policy. “We are open for cooperation,” he said, noting that last year, for the first time, Ukraine had contributed to the World Food Programme (WFP) and the country could become an important player in helping to overcome hunger around the world. This year, Ukraine had also provided assistance to Haiti, through the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).
MAHINDA RAJAPAKSA, President of Sri Lanka, said there was still time to renew political will and harness synergies to reach the targets. While each country had a sacred responsibility to ensure the welfare of its people, “we cannot survive in isolation” in an increasingly interconnected and globalized world. In that regard, achieving the Millennium Development Goals had become even more important to the collective interest. Recent global economic and financial crises severely reduced access to resources and capital flows for developing countries. The trend for more restrictions and protectionist measures in trade, debt relief and access to technology had posed a challenge for development. The world must, therefore, act with a sense of urgency and partnership.
For economic development to be sustainable, it must include emphasis on protection of the environment, he said. Green technology in industrial production was one of the central needs of the times. His country had embedded social development goals, such as free health care and access to education, into its overall policy framework since its independence. Its approach to economic and social policy has been guided by its Buddhist tradition. Incorporating the Millennium Goals key performance indicators into its national budget policies, Sri Lanka had already attained or was on track to attain the Goals, despite formidable odds, including facing for almost 30 years a violent terrorist movement and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
He noted that Sri Lanka has made significant progress in the areas of universal primary education and maternal and child health. While the focus had mainly been on countering tropical epidemics such as malaria and other vector-borne diseases, there was a need to pay adequate attention to forms of non-communicable diseases. To that end, he urged access to medicines at reasonable costs, as well as more predictable financial and technical assistance to develop local capacities. Environmental degradation could be seen through the onset of natural disasters in recent years. The world, therefore, must reach consensus on curtailing global warming based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibility and the Bali Action Plan.
VALDIS ZATLERS, President of Latvia, said significant progress had been made towards attaining the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, but more effort was required, especially to improve results in key sectors of gender, education, health and food security. A stronger global partnership was needed to accelerate progress in the Goals, while maintaining national ownership and a holistic approach. Development financing goals had not been reached, and must be met over the next five years. But, financial aid alone would not ensure development progress; there needed to be a much greater emphasis on aid effectiveness, or the cost of aid fragmentation and duplication could annually reach several billion euros.
As a new donor, Latvia was gradually building its aid policy, but it was already clear that it needed to concentrate on aiding development in a small number of partner countries in order to have an impact. As part of the European Union, Latvia could offer expertise to partner countries in the European Union Eastern Neighbourhood region and Central Asia, based on its recent transition experience, providing valuable promotion of good governance practices and sustainability. Latvia was fully committed to the Goals, he said, especially since its European Union presidency in 2015 coincided with the pivotal year for global development policy. Latvia had also supported development of Afghanistan’s rule of law, social and economic empowerment of women, water and sanitation, remaining committed to supporting long-term development of the country.
Reaching the Goals requires political will and broad public support, a particular challenge amid the impact of the global economic and financial crisis. Even greater effort was needed to promote awareness among politicians, especially parliamentarians, as well as the wider public. It was our opportunity and duty to demonstrate strong and concrete political commitment to increase efforts to reach the Goals, he said.
IVAN GAŠPAROVIČ, President of Slovakia, linked achievement of the Goals and sustainable development to national ownership and good governance in developing countries. All national development policies and strategies had to respect that basic principle. Most would agree that the key task was to support economic growth and job creation in developing countries. But, good political governance, fighting corruption, and preventing armed conflict were no less important. Two thirds of States facing the most difficulty in fulfilling the Goals were either going through conflict, or had done so recently.
Highlighting the importance of domestic efforts in partner countries, he cited a need for higher tax revenues through better tax administration, transparent tax policies, measures to combat tax evasion, and the creation of ample conditions to bring in foreign investment. The absence of an agreement at the multilateral trade negotiations, and the remaining barriers to world markets for developing countries, remained a problem. More efficient financing also needed to be ensured, with particular emphasis on the key role of the private sector.
Despite tight budgetary constraints, Slovakia was allocating specific funds to support developing and transforming countries, he said. It was determined to uphold this policy, in which the provision of aid was based on a profound knowledge of local conditions and on identifying what partner countries needed. One example was southern Sudan, where Slovakia has been contributing to reducing illiteracy through gender-equality-based projects for children and adults. Other projects in the area focused on disease prevention. Significant aid had also gone towards sustainable development, mainly in Kenya, Afghanistan, Mozambique and Mongolia.
RICARDO MARTINELLI BERROCAL, President of Panama, reaffirmed that his country was making progress in achieving the Millennium Goals. Its strategies for development were based on two pillars: increasingly incorporating its economy into the international arena; and strengthening human and productive capacity. Panama had maintained significant growth over the years, due to the use of correct, competitive policies. It had positioned itself as an excellent place to do business, attracting international companies. Significant progress had been made in reducing levels of extreme poverty and increasing primary school enrolment.
Nearly 93.2 per cent of the population in Panama now had access to drinking water and sanitation. Citizens were provided with housing vouchers to enable them to purchase homes. Efforts towards promoting gender equality included providing girls in indigenous areas with access to education. Further, his country had seen a 90 per cent reduction in mortality from measles and other infectious disease, as a result of vaccination programmes. He noted several social programmes, including one that offers monthly funds for people over the age of 70 who lacked pensions. His Government also provided over 800,000 students with a universal scholarship to enable their access to education, regardless of political affiliation.
Panama was, however, still faced with many challenges in achieving the Millennium Goals. There was a need to strengthen the fight against poverty in indigenous areas. His Government had begun creating networks of free medical services in indigenous areas and building a modern hospital in the capital to provide medical care and improve its performance on health indicators. He stressed that Panama would promote various health technologies and ensure that medicine reached all those in need. The Millennium Development Goals were not negotiable and not subject to conditions. “It is up to us to ensure that they are fulfilled without excuses”, he said.
FRANÇOIS BOZIZÉ, President of the Central African Republic, said his country bore the scars of trauma and chaos. Life expectancy fell from 52 years in 1990 to 45 years in 2000, or 10 years under the African average. More than 80 per cent of its people lived in an advanced state of destitution, and only shadows of the Republic’s institutions remained. It was far behind the rest of the world, and only with great difficulty could one or two of the Goals be achieved – the ones regarding access to potable water and primary schooling for girls. Poverty remained alarming from all points of view.
Restoring peace and security was a heavy burden for States emerging from conflict, taking up most available resources, he said. Some progress had been made in his country vis-à-vis governance, but in some areas, such as security, reforms had not moved forward at the desired pace. The situation was far from hopeless, but experience had showed that post-conflict States faced greater perils that would undermine any meagre gains achieved.
Achieving the Goals in the Central African Republic would require an estimated $5.5 billion in financing terms, he said, or more than $10 billion if the costs of natural or humanitarian disasters are added. It was nevertheless determined to achieve some of the Goals, so long as all parties focused on security and peacebuilding, restoring the administrative capacity of the State, addressing basic social service needs, particularly in the countryside, and mobilizing resources to cover the costs of peacebuilding and economic reconstruction. An ad hoc programme of partnership for fragile States, taking into account their specific needs, should be put into place, so that 2015 was not just another missed milestone for countries in difficulty.
LAURA CHINCHILLA MIRANDA, President of Costa Rica, said that her country had fully accomplished the second Millennium Development Goal on universal elementary education. All school age Costa Rican children now attended educational centres. However, the Government was worried that only 90 per cent of them actually completed the cycle. The country was, therefore, working so that by 2015, all children would complete school. That challenge was bigger with regard to higher education, where 89 per cent of the young people entered high school but only 40 per cent completed it. The dropout problem had, however, been reduced, thanks to monetary transfer programmes targeting families with limited resources. Additionally, an Ethics, Aesthetics and Citizenship programme was making learning more attractive and relevant through sports, artistic and service activities. The country hoped that, in five years, high school coverage would reach 89 per cent and that graduation rate would be much higher than today.
As the first woman President in her country’s history, she was particularly proud of its advances in the participation of women in political life. Nearly 40 per cent of the members of Congress were women, as were 30 per cent of the Supreme Court members. On the environment and sustainable development, her country’s dedication preceded the seventh Millennium Development Goal. Thanks to clever measures taken four decades ago, 25.9 per cent of the national territory was under some type of environmental management or conservation scheme. The country had recovered forest coverage. It had made investments in order to increase the proportion of electricity that it generated from renewable sources and the proportion of clean energies within the total consumption. The Government was promoting several initiatives so that Costa Rica could generate 100 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources in the next 10 years. The country was also working on the reduction of the production of greenhouse gases and had committed to making the country carbon-neutral.
Costa Rica recognized and had demonstrated to the world that sustainable human development must be supported with democratic governance, the rule of law, transparency, respect for human rights, peace and security, she said. It believed that freedom must be part of development, but, in order to achieve development, there needed to be an intelligent link between growth, health, innovation, respect for the environment and the reduction of poverty. Costa Rica had seriously assumed those responsibilities and did not blame others for its problems.
ROSA OTUNBAEVA, President of Kyrgyzstan, stressed that working at a national level to deliver on the Millennium Goals would make the world more reliable and its social fabric stronger. Events occurring in the past six months in Kyrgyzstan had compelled her Government to incorporate into its agenda efforts to combat uncontrolled corruption, implement serious reforms, depoliticize governance, and recover the rule of law. A violent inter-ethnic conflict in the south this past June had resulted in over 300 deaths, as well as the destruction of 2,000 residential houses and 327 service buildings. She affirmed that her country was making every possible effort towards rehabilitation and recovery. To that end, she thanked all countries and international organizations and development banks for providing urgent relief funds.
It was extremely important to Kyrgyzstan to learn from the experience of post-conflict countries that had successfully gone through the process of peacebuilding, she said. The Government was, therefore, focused on developing open and responsible governance, improving performance in policy implementation, and eradicating corruption mechanisms in the areas of private business and public administration. Turning to progress made in achieving the Millennium Goals, she noted strides made with regard to women’s empowerment. The upcoming parliamentary election this October would observe and follow the 30 per cent quota requirement for women in the party lists. With regard to the environment, her country attached importance to the practical implementation of the debt for environment swap mechanism.
Continuing, she said the environmental focus would be on forest protection efforts, biodiversity preservation and water balance, self-limitation in the use of natural resources, and reduced impact of the greenhouse effect. As her country was located at the origin of mountainous rivers leading to Central Asia, she asserted that the safety of glaciers and clean water sources was a common responsibility to all downstream countries. Kyrgyzstan was still falling short in reducing child and maternal mortality rates, as pubic and private partnership in maternity protection remained undeveloped. Global partnership, she believed, was about doctors from developed countries volunteering and sharing new treatment practices.
JÓHANNA SIGURÐARDÓTTIR, Prime Minister of Iceland, said that the Millennium Development Goals had helped to draw the world’s attention to the mutual responsibility of all nations to help the poorest and most deprived citizens of the world. During the last decade, the global community had faced serious challenges such as famine, disease, natural disasters and wars. At present, the world was slowly recovering from the most serious international economic crisis in decades. A hard lesson had been earned from that financial turmoil and it had had its greatest effect on those that were the most vulnerable. The world must not lose sight of fundamental values, such as the need for a fair and just society. Short-term policies and benefits should not replace sound economic management and long-term stability. The challenges that developed countries faced must not divert attention from the burning issues at hand. Attention should be focused on the extreme needs in the poorest regions of the world.
She noted that many developing countries had made great strides in improving the lives of their people. Their hard work and success stories were a reminder that progress could be achieved. Gender equality and the empowerment of women were key to the success of the Millennium Development Goals, not only as a specific target, but for the Goals in general. Women bore a heavier burden of the world’s poverty than men, because of the discrimination they faced in education, health care, employment and control of assets. They were also particularly defenceless against violence and exploitation in conflict situations. UN Women was, therefore, a historic step. That entity should be made a strong and efficient agent for the needs of women and girls worldwide.
RALPH E. GONSALVES, Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, said his country had made tremendous strides in the last 10 years to achieve the Goals. For example, it had far exceeded the standard set in Goal 1 to halve the number of people living in extreme poverty. In the last decade, extreme poverty had been reduced from 26 per cent of the population to 2.9 per cent. But poverty, more broadly defined, remained a vexing challenge, with 30 per cent of people struggling with less extreme forms of poverty. His country also had far exceeded the Goal of universal primary education, while the health ministry had worked to meet the relevant Goals. Under-5 child mortality had been reduced by almost half and approached developed world standards. The spread of HIV had stabilized.
There were still many obstacles to achieving the Goals in the national, regional and international contexts, he said, citing Goal 8 (global partnership) as that most woefully unmet. As developing countries struggled to advance an increasingly difficult economic environment, development partners had replaced their pledges of assistance with platitudes and empty rhetoric. The developing world had received $120 billion in 2009, far short of the $300 billion that had been pledged. Gleneagles commitments to Africa were $20 billion short. The financial crisis and failed Doha Development Round belie the Goal 8 pledge to develop an open, rule-based, non-discriminatory trading and financial system.
Many of those unmet pledges of assistance had been made well before those countries had plunged the world into crisis, he said. Yet, illogically, those culpable for the crises had cited the very calamities they created as the basis upon which to avoid commitments. “Somehow, we are expected to soldier on, with less assistance than promised, and in an international environment that is hostile to development,” he said. Achieving the Goals was at a critical juncture: internationally, the Goals would be unattainable without reducing the yawning credibility gap between what had been pledged and delivered. For the next five years, Goal 8 must be the engine of development and fulcrum on which States must leverage their national and regional best practices.
JAN PETER BALKENENDE, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, noted that poverty, child mortality and malaria had all been reduced, more girls were in school, and more people had access to clean drinking water, a subject of particular concern to the Crown Prince of his country. But, progress was lagging in other areas, particularly with regard to maternal mortality and gender equality. “We can do better if we are prepared to think and work outside the box,” he said.
The Goals were not solely the responsibility of non-governmental organizations, Governments, and multilateral organizations, he said. The private sector was crucial as well; its expertise in science, logistics and innovation could push back the boundaries of development. It was also both a source and stimulus of employment. Within certain parameters, free-market mechanisms were essential. Investing in developing countries was still regarded as risky, but to get economic growth in gear, a helping hand from the private sector was needed. The Dutch Government was strongly in favour of public-private partnerships. Rather than viewing the private sector as merely a cash dispenser, it must be recognized as an equal partner in development.
He recalled a petition he received prior to departing for New York, signed by thousands of Dutch mothers who found it unacceptable that more than 4,400 women would die during pregnancy or childbirth during this week’s summit. They, like the Government, believed that equal rights and opportunities for women would bring achievement of most other Goals closer. Human rights were crucial as well; by ensuring equality and non-discrimination, the poorest and most vulnerable would have access to basic services. Making things accessible and affordable would ensure that the Goals were more than a short-term success.
EMIL BOC, Prime Minister of Romania, said the Millennium Development Goals were the most important acts of reform of international relations of the past two decades. States were gathered to push for achievement of the Goals but the context “is certainly not on our side”. They faced the mounting pressures of climate change, pandemics, volatile food and energy prices, lingering conflicts and countering the global economic and financial downturn. The crisis had been a lesson in the value of global solidarity. “Solidarity is not a slogan,” he said, and stressed that Romania’s work on behalf of its citizens bore the full mark of responsibility.
Since it joined the European Union in 2007, Romania had attained irreversible progress on its Goals, he said. Moving forward, its strategy would revolve around the goals of the EU-2020 Strategy, a plan that shared an evident “synergy” with the Millennium Goals. Also, Romania had a proud history of pleading for tolerance and building bridges within the international community. Whether by bringing together parties in conflict, overcoming the dividing lines between East and West, or promoting cooperation between developed and developing countries, Romania stood for enhanced multilateralism. It would continue to foster international development and contribute to the East-East dimension of development cooperation.
His Government had created a National Report, in anticipation of today’s meeting, in order to track its past success and progress. Romania also fully supported the implementation of the European Council’s conclusions on the Millennium Development Goals and, therefore, in its own development cooperation, would focus on good governance, strengthening democracy and rule of law, education and health, as well as environmental protection. Finally, he said, despite financial constraints, Romania would maintain its official development assistance (ODA) commitments adopted at the European Union level, and reaffirmed its commitment to contribute to the timely achievement of international objectives and global partnerships.
SEBASTIAN PIÑERA ECHEÑIQUE, President of Chile, speaking on behalf of the Rio Group, said that poverty affected one in three people in Latin America. But, never before had South America had a better opportunity to defeat poverty. It had everything it needed to do so: a large and fertile territory; abundant natural resources; two brother languages; ever-stronger democracies; no wars or religious conflicts; and a people with solidarity and vigour. The twenty-first century would be the century of Latin America and the Caribbean.
He took stock of Chile’s progress in achieving the Goals. Free primary and secondary education was universal; the challenge now was to raise the quality of education. Women now made up 40 per cent of the work force; however, the proportion of women in elected office – 13.7 per cent – trailed the Latin American figure of 22.5 per cent. Infant mortality and maternal health indicators resembled those in more developed countries, and no child in Chile was today being infected by HIV/AIDS through transmission from the mother.
Poverty in Chile had fallen from almost 40 per cent in 1990 to just over 13 per cent in 2006, but between 2006 and 2009 the rate had increased to 15.1 percent, affecting 2.5 million people, he said. The Government’s goal was to eradicate extreme poverty by 2014 and lay the foundations to eliminate all poverty by the end of this decade. Poverty had many causes, but lack of work, poor-quality education and weakness of the family had the strongest impact, and Chile was addressing these three issues. Chile in 2011 would be introducing an “ethical family income” to supplement the income of the poorest families and vulnerable middle class; it was also creating a Ministry of Social Development and increasing the frequency with which it measured poverty.
DENZIL L. DOUGLAS, Prime Minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis, noted that his country was “the smallest independent nation in the western hemisphere”, yet strove towards the highest standards of democratic governance, strict observance of human rights, sound economic principles, and commitment to a high standard of living.
In assessing progress related to the Millennium Development Goals, he stated that extreme poverty fell from 11 per cent in 2000 to 1.4 per cent in 2009; compulsory universal access to primary and secondary education was in effect since 1972; women’s participation at all levels of policymaking and governance was the norm; infant and maternal mortality was in a downward positive trend – the latter had been negligible – and geothermal and wind energy projects had been implemented.
His country’s progress towards achieving the Goals was the result of careful planning and management, he said. But progress made could be “blown away in a matter of minutes”. Saint Kitts and Nevis would be at the mercy of an already tight financial market, particularly difficult for his small nation due to the “unfair” calculation of its gross domestic product (GDP) using per capita, which placed the country in a higher bracket than reality justifiably supported and denied it access to concessional loans. “The fact that we are this concerned”, he said, “is not consistent with the spirit of the Millennium Development Goals.” He encouraged countries to take action “to promote the kind of collaborative efforts that advance the common good and place partnership above parochialism”.
TONIO BORG, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Malta, said that his country joined in acknowledging the need to push more strongly to achieve the Millennium Goals by 2015, as that would ensure that populations in middle- and low-income countries, including small and fragile States, enjoyed the basic essentials of decent life. While the Goals had been established during relatively stable times — when planning, growth and aid were relatively predictable — the world was now navigating in unknown and uncertain waters. “As we move closer to 2015, it is more than likely that the international community will have to devise and adopt an adjusted framework, as well as innovative approaches in the search for and mobilization of development mechanisms to respond to these changes.”
He said that it would not be appropriate to take for granted the availability of continued support for the Goals, including beyond 2015, without responding to concerns and criticisms voiced by several stakeholders. No development was possible without building an environment for security and cooperation, and no long-term security could be guaranteed without developing further the global partnership for development. Malta believed that it was of vital importance to make the examination of the successes and failures of the Goals a constant process that reflected the changing political, economic, social environments, with the principal priority to offer support for sustainable progress in poverty reduction.
His country fully accepted its responsibilities both as a United Nations Member State and as a signatory to the Millennium Declaration, he said. It continued to provide its modest share of assistance to developing countries. The basis of that policy was the fact that Malta considered education, health and food security to be the foundations of human and sustainable development, acting as catalysts for the achievement of all development objectives. For that reason, his Government was ensuring that its development policy focused primarily, but not exclusively, on the Horn of Africa and sub-Saharan Africa, which were facing major obstacles towards the Goals’ attainment. Through a continued commitment and partnership, Malta would work assiduously and closely with other United Nations Members States to fulfil the Millennium promise to make the Goals a reality.
KANAT SAUDABAYEV, Secretary of State, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, said achieving the Millennium Development Goals was a moral and political imperative to ensure a safer future for all humanity. Achieving simultaneous progress on sustainable social and economic development, security, and human rights was the best guarantee for international peace and the welfare of humanity. That balanced approach characterized Kazakhstan’s 2010 Chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) — a key international organization that promoted the concept of common and comprehensive security.
He credited the consistent implementation of Kazakhstan’s social, economic and political strategy to President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Reforms achieved in the country’s 19 years since its independence showed that the Millennium Development Goals were achievable, provided there was a strong political will of the State, clear development guidelines and close international cooperation.
Kazakhstan had made progress on many of the Goals, he said, most notably, in the area of economic development; since 2000, the country doubled its economy, and expected to triple it by 2015. In addition, there had been a fourfold decrease in the number people with incomes below the subsistence minimum; decreased hunger; and a substantial increase in spending on education and health. Nearly 100 per cent of secondary school enrolment had been ensured, and life expectancy had increased from 65 to 68 years. Additionally, the incidence of tuberculosis had decreased by 30 per cent; maternal mortality had halved; birth rates more than doubled; and women had achieved greater equality. Regarding sustainable development, Kazakhstan had launched the “ Green Bridge” initiative, which would deal with ecosystem protection and climate change issues.
BOYKO BORISSOV, Prime Minister of Bulgaria, said much had been achieved over the past two decades as more than 1.6 billion people gained access to safe drinking water, over 400 million people had been lifted out of poverty and advances in science and medicine had made possible vaccination against incurable diseases, while other diseases had been eradicated. Yet at the same time, humankind annually spent $1.5 trillion to guarantee peace and security, but invested 11 times less in development assistance. While millions in the developing world had to survive on 10 litres of water per day, pieces of equipment in the developed world expended tens of times more water per hour. That was a “world upside-down” and in dire need of change.
He said that Bulgaria, fully aware of the global need for development, would contribute within its capacity to achieve the Millennium Goals. Notwithstanding challenges imposed on all by the economic and financial crisis, Bulgaria was sustaining its effort to build a capacity of donor international assistance. Bulgaria was confronted by many challenges, including problems pertaining to its own development and living standards. Nevertheless, it gradually fulfilled the commitments it had made in the field of international development assistance. Bulgaria was conscious it relied heavily on European solidarity and opportunities it provided for developing its economy and improving Bulgarian livelihoods, and stood ready to provide solidarity to other regions of the world that were in need.
Bulgaria’s development cooperation policy aimed to eradicate poverty in all its dimensions and manifestations, making a priority assistance to sectors such as education, socio-economic transition and health-care reforms, infrastructure projects, environmental protection and preservation of cultural diversity. Specialists, expert assistance and know-how were forms of assistance to countries like Bulgaria, which had moderate financial resources and could make use of that to add maximum value to aid. Improving the quality of aid was no less important for achieving the Goals than increasing its volume, and thus, Bulgaria had embraced principles of aid effectiveness laid down in the Paris Declaration and reaffirmed in the Accra Agenda for Action. Through the Goals, the world could be turned upright and kept “as it should stand”.
MUSA KOUSA, Secretary of the General People’s Committee for Foreign Liaison and International Cooperation of Libya, said that achieving economic growth in some developing countries was important, but that more important was bringing about a real change in infrastructure and social structure, as those affected the people’s lives, their food, environmental and health security, and attainment of the Millennium Goals. Such change could only be achieved through confidence building, cooperation and integration of national efforts for the development and bilateral and multilateral partnerships on the one hand and the enhancement and strengthening the role of the United Nations on the other.
He said that the risk of a second financial crisis remained valid in view of the fact that the relative economic recovery achieved by some countries did not reflect the social repercussions of the financial and economic crisis. The best example of that situation was the sovereign debt crisis that affected many industrialized countries. The macroeconomic indicators did not reflect a complete picture of the social and humanitarian situation in developing countries, especially in Africa. That situation was characterized by increases in unemployment, malnutrition, and famine, and plagued by women and youth issues, illegal immigration and trafficking in persons, drugs and transboundary crimes, as well as desertification and drought. Those exacerbated political and security tensions in communities and countries.
Libya’s national efforts had been directed, through social security programmes and fair distribution of income, to improvement in living standards and the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, he said. The Government had also sought to achieve development convergence with remote areas. It had adopted several policies to increase family income, after determining minimum wages, establishing national programmes for small and medium-sized enterprises and providing microfinance for youth and women. In 2007, 98.2 per cent of Libyan children were enrolled in basic education, with females accounting for 48.4 per cent and males 51.6 per cent, owing to a policy of free and compulsory education for all citizens. Libya had also achieved remarkable progress in reducing child and maternal mortality through intensified programmes for vaccination and eradication of diseases, such as polio, and the control of measles.
LUIS ALMAGRO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Uruguay, stated that his country’s national efforts in achieving the Goals had shown much progress. Several programmes to initiate the eradication of poverty had been implemented, among them the Social Emergency Plan, targeted to extremely impoverished populations, and the ensuing Equity Plan which deepened previous strategies already established. In ensuring work and dignified employment, the Work for Uruguay programme had also been initiated.
However, as a middle-income country, Uruguay still faced serious challenges in impacting their most vulnerable population, he said. Although the One Laptop Per Child programme had made progress in reducing the educational gap for each child in primary education, universalizing secondary and tertiary education required further work in infrastructure and development. The reduction of unemployment between the years 2005 and 2009 was encouraging, but gender equality still needed to be addressed and, with recently adopted national measures, there was hope that would improve.
Turning to child and maternal mortality, he stated that that serious health issue was a priority and that indicators had been satisfying, notably by 2008 reducing by half the mortality rate for children under 1 year old. The implementation of national programmes, including the National Health Programme for Children, the National Health Programme for Adolescents and the National Health Programme for Women would continue to strengthen services for women and the most vulnerable sectors. He noted that 90 per cent of pregnant women received health services in their first two trimesters and that almost all births were medically attended. In closing, he stressed that Goal 8 was essential to achieving all the Millennium Development Goals.
SALI BERISHA, Prime Minister of Albania, recalled memories of the 1992 General Assembly when he represented his country — at that time one of the poorest in the world, with a failed economy. Since then, per capita income had increased tenfold, and Albania now belonged to the group of countries with middle-upper-income levels. Once considered the most “hyper-collectivized” country on earth, his country reduced absolute poverty from 25 to 12 per cent in the last 10 years. Moreover, it had reduced extreme poverty from 4.2 to 1.3 per cent in the same time period. In considering its priority project for European Union integration, Albania upgraded its Millennium Goals in order to realign with the needs and requirements of integration objectives.
To that end, his country had increased budgetary spending in the last four years by over 40 per cent for health care, 60 per cent for education, and 80 per cent for social assistance. Over 90 per cent of students who completed the nine-year basic education programme later enrolled in high school. The number of university students had tripled, and Internet access had become available in every school throughout the country. Life expectancy had increased to 77.96 years, and maternal mortality was now several times lower than that of certain developed countries. Child mortality rates, however, were still not at the level they should be, in spite of a drastic decline. Turning to environmental protection, he noted that tremendous progress had been made, as nearly 98 per cent of electricity in Albania now came from renewable resources.
Despite the major global financial crisis, his country’s economy had been able to maintain positive economic growth of 3.5 per cent as of 2009. Some distinguished world economy and finance personalities had labelled Albania’s development as a “quantum leap”, yet there was still a long way to go. The unemployment rate remained at 11 per cent, and many citizens faced poverty. Achievements made thus far in Albania were a result of not only the hard work of its citizens, but also of the comprehensive reforms undertaken in the areas of the economy, health, education, social policies, and the fight against corruption. The phenomenon of corruption, he declared, was “the worst enemy of free people and free societies”. His country’s fight against it, as well as its other reforms, helped to transform it into a secure European country.
PAUL-ANTOINE BOHOUN BOUABRE, Minister of State and Minister of Planning and Development of C ôte d’Ivoire, said that, after 10 years, the road ahead for most African countries was still long, and the chances of achieving all the Goals by 2015 were slim. Despite a crisis unprecedented in its young history, Côte d’Ivoire remained committed to the Goals. There had been some encouraging progress, and there was a realistic chance that gender equality in primary education would be achieved.
Regarding HIV/AIDS, for which the Government had set up a dedicated Ministry, the Minister said the rate of infection had fallen from 6.9 per cent in 2000 to 3.7 per cent in 2008. HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis were not only a matter of public health, but a serious burden on economic and social development in Africa. To ensure better care and awareness, there should be a significant increase of funding for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
Poverty had grown in Côte d’Ivoire during the past decade, from 38.4 per cent in 2002 to 48.9 per cent in 2008, the Minister reported. The Government had, nevertheless, pressed ahead with extending the electrical grid to rural communities and expanding the supply of clean drinking water. Efforts have also been made to curb deforestation. Success in easing the debt burden had, meanwhile, enabled the Government to redirect funds to basic social services. Côte d’Ivoire was counting on the support of the international community and on strengthening its partnership with donor countries; in that regard, presidential elections set for 31 October augured well for the country.
WINSTON BALDWIN SPENCER, Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Antigua and Barbuda, observed that, years after the establishment of the Goals and with concrete results questionable, “something seems terribly amiss”, and he asked why this commitment made to the world’s most vulnerable people had not been fulfilled. However, despite fragmented results in achieving the Goals, he was not without hope that the international community would be able to fulfil the promises of the Goals if it acted with urgency and with a “massive infusion of focused efforts and resources”.
Continuing, he pointed out that developing countries such as his had been told repeatedly that the Goals were achievable when national development strategy programmes were supported by international partners. His country had developed such programmes and, although the necessary international resources and knowledge existed, support from the international partners had been slow, if at all. He also stressed that trade and debt relief were essential, in order for the developing world to achieve the Goals. To that end, he called for the Doha Round of trade talks to be completed. Least developed countries needed access to duty-free markets for their exports, and with a renewed emphasis on trade, they would be able to “rescue their battered economies and lift their people out of poverty”.
He said it was vital for the international system to work for small developing countries as effectively as it did for large, developed countries. In that regard, the matter of online gaming, which his country had successfully brought against the United States before the World Trade Organization Dispute Settlement Body had yet to produce any benefit. He urged the United States to work with his country to resolve the situation. He called on the international community to recommit to accelerating the implementation of the Millennium Goals; by supporting country-led development and effective governance, as well as ensuring global partnerships, among other things, the “noble yet practical” Millennium Development Goals could be achieved.
BASILE IKOUEBE, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of the Congo, said success had been uneven in achieving the Millennium Goals and much remained to be done. Many countries had made huge sacrifices to move in the right direction. Further, all countries had in recent years been overcome with severe challenges, including food scarcity, natural disasters, and the financial and economic crises, among many others. Those challenges, however, must not be used as an excuse or pretext for inaction, but should instead galvanize action. He urged development partners in the global North to keep their promises, particularly with regard to ODA and investments necessary for sustained economic growth. “Without it, the Millennium Goals may be elusive for many countries.”
As a post-conflict country, the Congo had to rebuild everything, mainly at its own expense. The cancelling of most of its foreign debt helped to move forward the initiation of anti-poverty plans. His country had made tremendous progress in the areas of primary education, fighting HIV/AIDS and promoting sustainable development. However, more efforts were needed to combat extreme poverty and hunger, lower child and infant mortality rates, and promote gender equality. He noted that the Congo had undertaken various programmes, including a support fund for agriculture and Government investment in diversifying the petroleum sector. Overall, efforts to combat the effects of climate change were needed to enlarge the productive base of the national economy.
In light of the fiftieth anniversary of the Congo’s independence, the Government had taken measures to strengthen its programmes. To fill gaps in education, it was working to increase enrolment rates at the primary level and to provide students with more textbooks. His country considered gender equality as a part of sustainable development and, therefore, adopted legislation on the representation of women in governmental bodies in order to remove barriers. Measures were also being taken to prevent maternal deaths, and free HIV/AIDS treatment was offered to prevent mother-to-child transmission. The Congo’s President was focused on eradicating poverty, viewing the battle against it as “a cornerstone in achieving human dignity”.
MAMADOU TANGARA, Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Gambians Abroad of Gambia, said that since the Millennium Summit, his country had not relented in its consideration of poverty reduction and the enhancement of growth as the cornerstone of its national development priorities. Despite resource gaps, it had mobilized a significant level of partnership with genuine friends, both bilaterally and at the multilateral level. Its effort had included the strengthening of national planning capacity with the creation of a Planning Commission in 2006. That commission had been recently transformed into a ministry in charge of directing national planning efforts using a Goal-based poverty reduction strategy paper and the Vision 2020 development blueprint as a basis.
Describing some of his country’s achievements, he said that net enrolment in primary education in the Gambia was now at 77 per cent and that 62.9 per cent of pupils starting grade 1 reached the last grade of primary education. Gender parity almost favoured girls more than boys due to the deliberate creation of a Girls Education Trust Fund and the pioneering use of the highly successful President’s Empowerment of Girls Education Programme, which was promoting both the enrolment and retention of girls in schools. The Gambia continued to be committed to the ideals of gender equality and the empowerment of women.
Even though Gambia was among the best performers in Africa with regard to meeting some of the Millennium Development Goals targets, there remained daunting tasks and challenges, he stated. His country intended to respond to those challenges in a more structured and targeted manner through a Programme for Accelerated Growth and Employment that would run from 2012 to 2014. Gambia joined the call for the outcome document of the present review meeting to reflect stronger commitment to specific actions, as well as realistic timelines and requisite financing to deliver the Millennium Development Goals. His country held that it was high time wealthier countries provided added and committed assistance to less endowed and poverty-stricken nations. It was also time to prove to those in whose lives the Millennium Development Goals would make a true and realistic difference that the international community “meant what we had promised them”.
MOHAMED BOLKIAH, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Brunei Darussalam, recalled several lessons that he learned in the last decade, most notably, how the Millennium Development Goals enabled government workers, business people, professionals, families, and communities, to come together. As a result, his country was starting to feel a renewed confidence in the future and was “less frightened” by its many challenges.
Since 2000, he said Brunei had made progress, most notably strengthened policies and legislation. In addition, public and private sectors were working together in health and education and all ministries had set long-term development programmes. These achievements, when added to Brunei’s comprehensive housing programmes and its commitment to the rule of law, allowed him to see how striving to reach the Goals helped to strengthen social welfare.
Despite its progress, his small developing country realized an important lesson: “We cannot do everything on our own.” Brunei “needs others”, and that was why its regional association was very important to it. The challenge was to become part of an “ASEAN Community” by 2015. However, regarding issues of natural resources and biodiversity, even though his country had signed key agreements, it had a very real problem — “we don’t know enough”. It did not have enough highly skilled people, and without that some goals would be very hard to achieve. In closing, he stressed that success could not depend entirely on each individual country; it called for a deep level of cooperation, especially sharing ideas and expertise.
ALI JARBAWI, Minister of Planning and Administrative Development of the Palestinian National Authority, recalled world leaders’ acknowledgement, via the Millennium Declaration, of their collective responsibility to uphold the principles of human dignity, equality and equity at the global level. As it strove for independence, Palestine was heartened by world leaders’ commitment to the right to self-determination. Palestine was committed to achieving the Millennium Goals, despite the illegal, prolonged military occupation by Israel. However, the occupation was a major obstacle in attaining the Millennium Goals, and must end.
Nevertheless, he said, universal primary education and gender equality in education had been achieved, and great strides were being made to improve maternal health care. Such achievements had been made despite the fact that Palestinian pregnant women and children were still held up routinely at Israeli military checkpoints while travelling to school and health-care facilities. While improvements in basic services had been attained, essential investments in public infrastructure were often obstructed or indefinitely delayed by complex restrictions imposed by the occupation. Israel and its settlers were also systematically overexploiting Palestine’s natural resources. It was Palestine’s firm belief that if the occupation ended and the government could be consolidated into a sovereign and independent State, then it could not only meet but, in fact, exceed most of the Millennium Development Goals before 2015.
In those geographical areas where the Palestinian Authority had access – nearly 40 per cent of the West Bank – performance in achieving the Millennium Goals was good, he said. Conversely, the situation in areas obstructed by Israeli military forces was very different. Schools in East Jerusalem were in a state of disrepair and hospitals in the area faced perennial shortages in essential medicines and equipment. There were also struggles to provide the most basic services to communities isolated by the “expansionist annexation wall”. Furthermore, the International Monetary Fund had reported that the unemployment rate in the Gaza Strip currently stood at 37 per cent – now the highest in the world.
“If the current status quo is allowed to continue, the socio-economic inequalities that exist between Gaza and the West Bank will widen to unprecedented proportions with tragic consequences,” he stressed. The blockade on the Gaza Strip must be completely lifted. If not, Palestine’s path to attaining the Millennium Goals could be further obstructed or reversed. Concluding, he said Palestine was committed to ensuring equal rights and opportunities for its families. It would strive to do so in line with international law and the spirit of the Millennium Declaration.
ALBERTO D’ALOTTO, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Argentina, said that the Goals were ambitious, but attainable, and achieving them was crucial for the rights of all peoples. Further, the Goals were within the capacity of developed and middle-income countries and, in that regard, he said that Argentina had expanded upon them, in particular in reducing poverty and expanding employment. In 2007, the goal of reducing unemployment had, through national programmes and initiatives, been reached, and despite the global and economic crisis, his country had maintained employment levels.
In order to ensure the integration of the Goals into national policies, a multidiscipline approach through specialized structures had been initiated in the Office of the President. He pointed out that, concerning the objective of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, Argentina had reduced it below 15 per cent by 2008. His country had also reached its Millennium Goal of reducing HIV/AIDS through national initiatives in 2007, as well. Turning to the area of child mortality, he reported their success in reducing the mortality of children under the age of 5 by two thirds, and maternal mortality had been reduced by 75 per cent.
Since 2000, candid and thorough reviews were held to assess the progress made and to adjust course when needed, he said, and the successes were not from magic formulas, but from good practices. He concluded by stating his conviction that the international community, including the most developed countries, had the strength to fulfil their commitments to ensure the success of the Goals.
AFELEE FALEMA PITA ( Tuvalu) said that meeting the Millennium Development Goals required the commitment of national Governments in ensuring that the appropriate policies and systems were in place to facilitate their attainment. Such commitment needed not only to be complemented and supported by development partners, but also required that the developed countries deliver their commitments in a timely manner. In his country, despite limited resources, coupled with its unique challenges as a small island developing State and a least developed country most vulnerable to external shocks and environmental disasters, it had been able to make some progress in achieving some of the Goals during the past 10 years. The country’s population did not suffer from extreme poverty and hunger and there was very high participation in primary education. The participation of women in the society was prominent, although representation in Parliament remained an issue.
A lesson that Tuvalu had learned from its review of the Goals was that, while it had made progress in achieving the Goals, those successes could be easily and very quickly reversed by its particular economic and environmental vulnerability, he continued. The global financial and economic crisis had had enormous adverse effect on Tuvalu’s economy. Tuvalu’s principal source of revenue was its Trust Fund, which was based on investments overseas. Those investments were severely affected by the crisis and would take some time to recover. As a result, Government expenditure declined dramatically, adversely affecting efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Another significant burden on Tuvalu’s economic sustainability was the effect of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. At a recent maritime security summit in Hawaii, it was noted that an estimated 20 per cent of the reported catch from the Pacific came from such fishing. Such activities in Tuvalu’s exclusive economic zone by distant water fishing nations robbed the country of the few sources of foreign revenue available to it. Addressing that issue was another crucial component of ensuring Tuvalu’s efforts to achieve the Goals.
He added that, for Tuvalu, addressing climate change in a substantial way was fundamental for sustainable development. The next climate change conference in Cancun must, therefore, not be allowed to be a failure like the one in Copenhagen. Tuvalu was one of the most vulnerable countries in the world in terms of climate change, especially with regard to sea level rise. Its very survival was threatened by the impacts of climate change. It, therefore, held the view that the unique situation and needs of small island developing States and least developed countries needed to be given special attention, since their extreme vulnerability made it highly likely that their achievements towards attaining the Millennium Development Goals could easily be lost overnight.
ROBERT AISI ( Papua New Guinea) said his country had adapted the Millennium Goals to localize them by establishing 15 targets and 67 indicators within the 2005-2012 Medium-Term Development Strategy. The second report on the Goals had recently been completed and it indicated progress had been made towards implementation of the national targets, particularly with regard to Goals 2 and 4, related to education and child mortality, respectively. A new 20-year strategy was focused on transforming the rural sector, which was home to 86 per cent of the population. The aim was to transform those corridors of poverty into robust socio-economic areas, with improved basic services, including road and infrastructure linkages.
He said thatin the five years leading up to 2015, Papua New Guinea’s development plan would focus on fulfilling the internationally agreed targets. The focus and resources would be dedicated to making progress in improving gender equality, addressing climate change and promoting the role of the private sector. To accelerate the pace of implementation, four provinces had been identified as pilots to test programmes aimed at fast-tracking efforts to achieve the Goals.
Development partners should contribute to joint commitments under the Paris Declaration and the Accra Agenda for Action beyond 2015, he concluded. At the same time, South-South cooperation and partnerships were equally important in meeting the deadlines. The Asia Pacific Ministerial Meeting in Indonesia, on 3 and 4 August, had culminated in the Jakarta Declaration, aimed at accelerating achievement of the Goals through South-South cooperation. The General Assembly should give consideration to that Declaration.
ALAN GARCÍA PÉREZ, President of Peru, said his country was making progress in achieving the Goals in all areas, despite the challenges, including a drop in ODA funding and the current global economic turmoil. His country’s success was due to its focus on investing in the infrastructural bases for sustainable development. Further, public investment was heavily supported by private sector investments. As a result of those combined efforts, the poverty rate in the country had been reduced from 54.4 per cent to 14 per cent in the last five years. Based on its report with regard to indicators related to the Goals, the United Nations had affirmed that Peru had achieved its 70 per cent point in poverty reduction. By 2011, the 30 per cent rate was expected to have been achieved. By 2015, it was expected that only 10 per cent of the population would be living in poverty.
Continuing, he said the Government’s poverty reduction measures had been supported by public investment to create 2 million jobs in other poverty-reducing sectors. One of those was to increase access to water and sanitation, which had benefited 4 million people who had had no access to drinking water before and had provided sewage disposal services to 3 million people. The gap between those who had access to drinking water and those who did not was expected to be closed within the next 10 years. A similar “light for all” campaign was providing electricity to people at the same rapid pace.
Further, he said progress had been achieved in all areas, especially in education-related areas. Enrolment in schools towards the aim of achieving universal primary education had been increased, as had the number of students in attendance at schools. Planning was under way to introduce legislation for compulsory secondary education. The illiteracy rate had been reduced to 5 per cent. Similar progress had been made in achieving the Goals on reducing gender inequality and maternal mortality. The 2015 Goal for reducing child mortality had already been achieved. Vaccination campaigns had eradicated measles and reduced the incidence of diseases such as malaria. Challenges remained, but the aims of the Goals could be achieved, as could those of the United Nations. The time had come to incorporate as a supreme goal the aim of living in peace and reducing the use of weapons. The time had come for the world to embrace the principles of democracy, realism and freedom.
HARIS SILAJDŽIĆ, Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, noted that, as a country that had received significant international support for reconstruction, the country now invested significant efforts “to achieve sustainability and its own responsibility”. The country’s National Human Development Report on the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 gave high priority to poverty reduction, development humanization, and development support enhancement. In addition, the nation’s development strategy (2010-2013) and social inclusion strategy would provide for a more stable, efficient and competitive economy, while achieving social inclusion and integration into the European Union.
Several initiatives undertaken by the country addressed social inclusion. The country’s Disability Policy would enable access to, among other things, the labour market. The nation had also implemented, he said, a project to integrate child social protection through multisectoral cooperation. Further, an action plan to address the educational needs of the Roma, the country’s biggest national minority, had been developed, but, he added, the results had not been satisfactory and “much remained to be done in the areas of education and employment” for the Roma.
“We are fully determined to continue working with our partners in the international community in order to strengthen local self-responsibility and stimulate long-term development on the path to full membership in the European Union,” he stated. But, the country was witnessing an escalation of open calls for secession, necessitating constitutional reform that would create a single economic space and make the Government functional and rational. “The active support of the international community to Bosnia and Herzegovina in this reform process is of the essence,” he said.
BATBOLD SUKHABAATAR, Prime Minister of Mongolia, said that with adequate resources, renewed commitment and intensified collective action, the Millennium Goals could and must be achieved. The journey ahead would not be smooth, as the world was already grappling with the economic crisis, volatile energy and food prices, issues of food security, and climate change. The combined effects had reversed hard-earned development gains. To withstand those and other emerging challenges, an effective global partnership for development should be enhanced. That partnership would include national ownership and leadership, deliver on commitments already made, and take into account the special needs of vulnerable groups of countries, including landlocked developing countries.
He said that the past decade of implementation of the Goals had revealed that sustained economic growth was not sufficient. Everyone, particularly the poor, should be able to participate and benefit from economic opportunities; economic growth should lead to job creation and be complemented by effective social policy. Recently, Mongolia conducted a thorough analysis of its progress on the Goals, and had found that 66 per cent of “our MDGs” were on track or likely to be achieved, including in the ratio of girls to boys in secondary schools, the percentage of children covered by essential immunization, infant mortality and under-5 mortality rates. Overall progress had resulted from mainstreaming the Goals into a long-term development policy document and budgetary framework and establishing a single Government agency responsible for coordinating their implementation, and creating a broad database for progress assessment.
Nonetheless, he noted, the country report sent a warning that the achievement of other targets was slow. The most challenging was poverty reduction, gender equality and environmental sustainability. To effectively address those challenges and ensure that economic growth benefited everyone, the Government was taking pertinent policy measures, including boosting productive employment, especially among youth; equitably distributing income and opportunities; and investing in rural development and agriculture. Financing those policies would be formidable, but his Government would continue working with development partners and seeking their assistance, especially to offset vulnerability to external shocks and the disadvantages of being a landlocked country. Touching on other topics, he mentioned the goal of ensuring gender equality and working to combat the impacts of environmental degradation, such as desertification. He said that Mongolia stood ready to do its part to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
WEN JIABAO, Premier of the State Council of China, said progress towards the Millennium Development Goals was uneven. Many countries had not yet made headway in improving the health of women and children, achieving gender equality and protecting the environment. A number of developing countries were hit hard by the global financial crisis, natural disasters and volatile food and energy markets. The global population living in hunger had increased. Achieving the Goals remained a “long and uphill journey”. China has been an active supporter of the Goals and since 1978 the number of Chinese living in absolute poverty had been lowered by over 200 million, accounting for 75 per cent of those lifted out of poverty in developing countries, as it introduced schemes to improve employment, housing and education for low-income groups.
China still had imbalances in development, as tens of millions of its people were still below the poverty line, but he said it was convinced it would achieve the Goals through greater emphasis on poverty alleviation. He added that China and its Government would contribute its share towards early achievement of the Goals throughout the world. The primary objective of China’s foreign assistance was to help improve livelihoods in developing countries through a number of initiatives. He announced that, within the next three years, China would donate $14 million to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Among its other initiatives, China would also reduce and cancel debts to least developed countries, while deepening financial cooperation, economic and trade ties with developing countries. On top of China’s recent humanitarian assistance to fight flooding in Pakistan, he announced it would provide another $200 million to help rebuild the country.
The international community must, with a greater sense of urgency and responsibility, put the achievement of the Goals on top of its agenda, so they were not interrupted or delayed by other issues. Developed countries should also honour their official commitments, improve coordination and cooperation to implement aid and uphold a durable peace and stability. He called for harder work and closer cooperation for the development of the Goals on schedule and for the progress of all mankind.
The Goals, as important as ever since their adoption 10 years ago even as the world had experienced significant changes, were a common reference point for the joint effort to create a better world for the poorest and most vulnerable people, said LARS LØKKE RASMUSSEN, Prime Minister of Denmark. He said the international community needed to focus on the Goals’ implementation during the remaining five years. Without private sector-driven growth, however, the international community would not be successful in eradicating poverty or mobilizing the necessary domestic resources for education, health and other social services. Ensuring that the benefits of growth reached the poor was especially important in Africa.
In 2008, he noted, Denmark had established the Africa Commission with the participation of African leaders and key stakeholders. The Commission stressed the importance of growth and employment, especially for young people, which represented a huge untapped resource. Denmark had co-sponsored an event on Inclusive Growth and Employment in Africa this morning with the President of Liberia and Prime Minister of the United Republic of Tanzania to move this agenda forward, he noted.
He stressed that equality and equal opportunities for women were a vital engine for economic and social development, and there was no chance of achieving the Goals without a strengthened focus on women’s empowerment. Women must be able to freely decide if and when they wanted children and they needed access to health services when giving birth. He urged donor countries to live up to their commitments, noting that Denmark was one of only five countries that had exceeded the target of 0.7 per cent of gross national income for ODA. Stepping up in that way required a willingness to make development cooperation a priority. “We have gained valuable experience over the last 10 years. The challenge has been clearly defined. We have five years left. We have to do it right and we have to start today,” he concluded.
ALIK L. ALIK, Vice-President of Federated States of Micronesia, said the alarming population growth of his country had been reduced by almost 50 per cent during the 1990s and stood now at 3.28 per cent annually. The Government understood that the country had to do better in the areas of per capita income generation and human development, because employment and income were at the heart of poverty reduction. Micronesia had adopted a policy of streamlining the size of Government, while taking care that essential services were not adversely impacted. As the economy was dominated by a large public sector, a major challenge in efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals was the reduction of bilateral assistance. He, therefore, underscored the importance for the international community to honour its commitment to provide 0.7 per cent of GDP for ODA.
He said that a special partnership agreement with the United States, enshrined in the Compact of Free Association, included an economic package that could stimulate efforts towards attainment of the Millennium Development Goals through the improvement in the health and education sectors. Despite the country’s best efforts, growth had stood at 0.4 per cent in 2009. That growth was characterized by sluggishness in real per capita income, reduction in employment and an increase in outward migration. Thirty per cent of the population lived below the national poverty line. It seemed unlikely that that percentage could be halved by 2015.
He reported high enrolment rates at the primary school level, which now stood at over 90 per cent, with near parity between girls and boys. The increased access to education had helped considerably in narrowing the gender gap. Other initiatives had been taken to address issues relating to women’s representation in political arena, in maternity leave and domestic violence. The ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women had helped to raise the profile of women in the island communities. The country was on track to achieve the maternal mortality rate target. There was, however, one large challenge that would render all achievements irrelevant. “We cannot meaningfully talk about the MDGs unless the international community addresses the real danger that Micronesia and other small island developing States will disappear because of the adverse impacts of climate change,” he said. “In short, we are the least responsible, but the most vulnerable.”
NICK CLEGG, Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, stated that, behind the “officialese” of the Millennium Development Goals Summit, development meant the right of every person to have freedom from hunger, disease, poverty, ignorance and the right to take their life into their own hands and determine their own fate. He noted that progress was uneven and that a number of the goals were off-track. That said, he stated, “the message is: we will keep our promises and we expect the rest of the international community to do the same”.
The United Kingdom, he said, was committed to reaching 0.7 per cent of GDP in ODA by 2013. Further, it would be enshrined in law and implemented in ways that would make the biggest difference. Deaths due to malaria in Africa would be halved and targeted towards the 10 worst affected countries. Maternal and infant health would be boosted, saving 50,000 mothers and 250,000 babies by 2015. Making the commitment to a 156 billion pounds sterling budget for aid against the backdrop of a very difficult economy was “not an uncontroversial decision”, he noted, but the United Kingdom recognized that it was even more important now than before.
He emphasized the interrelatedness of world economies, stating that, when the world was more prosperous, the United Kingdom would participate in that growth and when the world was less secure, the nation would be less secure within it. Twenty-two of the 44 countries furthest from reaching the Goals were emerging from violent conflict, he noted. So, the Goals were not simply charity or pure altruism, but a key to lasting safety and future prosperity. He called on others to show equal resolve. Developed nations must honour their commitments, but developing nations would not receive “a blank check”. Instead, they would be expected to administer aid in ways that were transparent and responsible, and placing priority on areas such as health, basic services, education, sustainable development and empowering women and girls. “There can be no doubt that women and girls hold the key to prosperity,” he said. He concluded his statement by saying, “Let them say that we rose to the challenge, that we kept our promises.”
BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States, said it was a valid question to ask why a summit on development was being held at a time when traditional donor countries were beset by domestic problems, including high unemployment. The answer, he said, was that the development of any country benefited all others. “Let’s put to rest the old myth that development is mere charity and that certain countries are condemned to perpetual poverty,” he added. Today’s world was one in which a disease such as smallpox had been eradicated after ravaging people the world over throughout history. It was one in which countries such as China and India were leaders in the global economy, where the doors of education had been opened to tens of millions of children, boys and girls, where diseases such as malaria and HIV/AIDS were down and access to drinking water was up.
However, progress in achieving other Goals had not come nearly fast enough, he continued. Too many women still died in childbirth and children still died from agony of malnutrition. If the international community continued on the same modest path, “we will miss many development goals”. The United States would do its part in world development, not just as a moral imperative, but as an economic and strategic priority. A comprehensive review of its foreign policy programmes had been conducted and the new global policy included pursuit of the Millennium Goals and stated clearly that the United States was “changing how it does business” with the world. First, the concept of aid was being redefined. Secondly, the perception about the ultimate goal of development was being revised because the present approach was leading to dependence rather than development.
That approach, he continued, meant that instead of just providing food, the United States would help countries develop their agricultural sectors. Instead of just providing medicines, it would help countries build better delivery systems as it had in Mali. Instead of just treating HIV/AIDS, it would develop pilot programmes to prevent the spread of the disease. He said that the third pillar of the new approach was for the United States to address poverty and to make progress towards achieving the Goals on poverty reduction by using the strongest force possible, the promotion of broad-based economic growth. Countries were most likely to prosper when they pursued their own paths to economic success.
The United States would partner with other countries, and it would ensure that the Doha Round worked for all countries, he said. The G-20 countries would be urged to strengthen their anti-corruption agendas because, in the long run, “democracy and prosperity go hand in hand”. The final pillar of the new approach would be to insist on greater responsibility, “both of ourselves and others”. “We need to be big-hearted but also hard-headed in making commitments.” The United States would put an end to hollow, unmet promises. The moment of taking responsibility had arrived for developing countries as well. “We can be partners but you must lead.” No nation could do everything everywhere and still do it well; they must be more selective and focused. There was an opportunity to forge a new division of labour for the new century. “Together, we can collaborate in ways unimaginable just a few years ago,” he said. “Together, we can deliver historic leaps in development.”
NAOTO KAN, Prime Minister of Japan, said that the remarkable victories and advances made over the past decade towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals notwithstanding; the challenge to achieve those Goals was not yet won. Announcing what he termed Japan’s concrete “promises” in the fields of health and education, where he said progress had been particularly slow, he called the new initiative the “ Kan commitment”, based on his personal determination to see progress in those fields.
The first “promise” was that Japan would contribute to addressing health issues for protecting lives, based on the belief that the role of Government and political leaders was to minimize sources of misery, such as disease, poverty and conflict, and establishing a “society with a minimum level of unhappiness”. Commenting on the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which Japan had helped to found, Mr. Kan said that having paid close attention to the issues of various diseases, including HIV/AIDS, he took the opportunity of the recent photo exhibition held in his country to renew his awareness that in Asia, Africa, South America and elsewhere in the world, a large number of people affected by AIDS continued to lose their lives. He promised that at the Third Replenishment Conference scheduled for next month, his country would announce its intention to make contributions amounting to $800 million in the coming years.
At the same time, Japan would also propose an assistance model in maternal and child health called “EMBRACE”. That model aimed to deliver a sequence of health services, including antenatal care with routine examinations and neonatal care at facilities with quality equipment and human resources, improvement in access to hospitals and immunization. He said education, in conjunction with good health, formed the basis upon which people’s social participation took place. Without proper education, people were deprived of opportunities for action in their society.
Continuing, the Japanese leader said his country would also provide $3.5 billion in assistance over five years beginning next year as a contribution to the achievement of the education-related Millennium Development Goals because he believed education led to the creation of jobs and social vitality, which he considered essential. “Today, I have announced Japan’s concrete measures for contribution targeting the fields of health and education, in accordance with the concept of a society with the minimum level of unhappiness. This is our promise to the next generation, who should be the world’s hope for the future,” he declared.
HAN SEUNG-SOO, Special Envoy of the President of the Republic of Korea, said it was critical to find consistent and predictable financial resources for development, if the promise of meeting the Millennium Development Goal targets by 2015 was to be met. Donor countries had to honour their long-standing commitments. Further, financing had to start at home too, raising and allocating more domestic revenues were allocated through improved tax systems and financing mechanisms. The Republic of Korea was moving to increase its ODA to 0.25 per cent of its gross national income (GNI) by 2015 while using innovative financing mechanisms to increase its support to the health sector.
Stressing that the effective use of development resources was equally important, he said his country would host the fourth high-level forum on aid effectiveness in Busan next year. That forum would give Member States an opportunity to assess the relevance of the principles on aid effectiveness, based on data and their close monitoring. Acknowledging the importance of gender equality and women’s empowerment, he said the Republic of Korea had joined the Muskoka Initiative on maternal and children’s health and global efforts, and supported the Secretary-General’s Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health. This year, the Republic of Korea had also become a supporter of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, which focused on improving children’s mortality by vaccinating children less than 5 years old. Korea was the first Asian country to participate in the Alliance.
The international community needed to focus on the regions falling behind, such as sub-Saharan African countries and least developed countries, he said. His country was implementing the Korea-Africa Initiative as a multi-year programme for partnership with African countries and about 50 per cent of its bilateral assistance was allocated to low-income countries. The international community’s work did not stop with the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. “We must aim at sustaining them in the long run.” The upcoming G-20 Summit in Seoul was an opportunity to outline ways to ensure development through sustainable growth, he said.
S.M. KRISHNA, Minister of External Affairs of India, said the world had made substantial gains on the Goals, but that progress had been uneven and fell short of expectations. That was visible in the forgotten Goals, involving women’s and children’s health. He was thus pleased that the Secretary-General had set out a global strategy in that regard. Referencing the destruction emanating from the natural disasters in Haiti and Pakistan, he expressed solidarity as a fellow developing country. He also expressed growing concern about the impact of climate change on vulnerable regions. Rain-fed agriculture accounted for 60 per cent of the crop area in India, and climate change aggravated the situation in traditionally drought- and flood-prone regions. A national action plan on climate change would increase the share of clean and renewable energy, increase energy efficiency and expand forest cover.
He said that, with only five years to go to reach the Millennium Goals’ target year, it was imperative to step up efforts. More than 60 million people had slipped back into poverty in 2009, following the economic crisis. It was an important imperative, therefore, that global economic recovery be durable, balanced and sustainable. So far, India’s economy showed resilience and was expected to grow by 8.5 per cent between 2010 and 2011. However, the largest concentration of the poor was in India and South Asia, and he, therefore, urged a push for inclusive growth. He mentioned specific national measures, such as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, universal elementary education programmes for children ages 6 to 14 — the largest school-lunch programme in the world — and a special programme focused on female literacy. In addition, India had embarked on the most ambitious affirmative-action programme, mandating that one third of all elected positions in local government be reserved for women.
India faced enormous challenges in women’s health, and the Government had adopted a multi-pronged strategy under the National Rural Health Mission to provide health care in the rural areas, he said. The maternal mortality rate had declined. Progress had also been made in combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases. India made valuable use of technology, and had launched the second phase of the Pan-African e-Network project, which linked 53 countries in Africa with centres of excellence in India for telemedicine and tele-education services. Overall, he called for a robust global partnership, technology transfer and capacity-building. India was resolute in its commitment. Quoting Mahatma Gandhi on the limitless potential of human achievement, he said: “A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.”
XAVIER ESPOT MIRÓ, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Institutional Relations of Andorra, said that it might not be possible to fulfil the promises made 10 years ago to combat poverty and protect the most vulnerable groups. He listed the persistent problems, noting, in particular, that the people most vulnerable to natural disasters had remained sidelined, the current financial crisis had raised food prices in regions like Africa, some 72 million children in the world did not receive schooling, the AIDS crisis had not been resolved, and shortages of drinking water continued. Although some progress had been made, the results were uneven and fell short of the Goals.
He said his country had endorsed the Goals’ objectives and cooperated to achieve them. For example, his Government had created a Development Cooperation Service in 2001, and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs devoted 23 per cent of its financial resources to development cooperation. He asserted that States should increase efforts and that the role of the United Nations was crucial, and he expressed Andorra’s support for the meeting’s outcome document.
HUGO ROGER MARTÍNEZ, Minister for External Relations of El Salvador, said it was a priority for his country to comply with the Goals’ indicators. The model of an inclusive economic growth emphasized many things regarding the public good, including universal primary education. Several development initiatives should be taken on a regional level, which would increase inclusion within this area. Of particular importance was the creation of jobs for youth, at a time when unemployment was a threat in urban areas. Despite the financial crisis and vulnerability to natural disasters, he said the country had advanced in many areas, including the development of a real estate guarantee fund, land tenure certificates, and a rural solidarity community programme, which reached 100 municipalities. In addition, a universal basic pension plan had been granted to 32 municipalities.
He noted other progress, including the expansion of a school feeding programme and distribution of out-of-work certificates, which guaranteed laid-off workers six months of health-care services. In a framework of health reform, there was growing awareness among the population of the need to reduce mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS and boost access to antiretroviral drugs, free of cost. He noted that, in order for policies to be effective, they must include a gender perspective. He urged participation among schools, non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders to prevent school dropouts.
Social protection needed to be broadly inclusive, he said. In education, the Government had implemented assistance to low-income families, offering school kits that included uniforms and school supplies. That major task had assisted families and promoted employment to those who sewed uniforms, among others. To strengthen aid for the neediest in the country, El Salvador provided a universal basic pension for those over 70 years old. Given the threat of exponential urban poverty, he noted two pilot programmes, the first which gave temporary assistance to unemployed youth, and the second, which provided agricultural kits to help families with their businesses. He was convinced that the best results would come from a commitment of increased commitment by the international community. El Salvador shared the vision that all Member States could achieve the Millennium Goals and improve living standards for all vulnerable groups.
KEVIN RUDD, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia, described the challenges two children born into poverty faced each day in their lives. One girl from Soweto ended up in a school with a bright future. The other, a boy living in a slum near a mega-city ended up “without hope”. He told their stories because they were the “human face” of what happens when the world “acts with compassion and when it does not”. He asked that his description urge the Member States to fulfil their commitments and the promise of the Goals. At this 10-year review, although the failures of achieving the Goals were often used as arguments that international aid was ineffectual, he stated that the Goals were an expression of basic human rights, and their success would benefit the global community. “Eliminating extreme poverty boosts global growth for all. […] It grows trade and investment. It grows jobs. It acts against political and religious radicalization,” he stressed.
With 70 million children unable to attend school, hundreds of thousands of women dying in childbirth and infectious diseases still devastating poor communities, he observed that less than half the funding pledged to Africa five years ago in the Gleneagles declaration of the G-8 had been delivered. He urged that Member States “to do what which we say we will do. To honour our commitments.” His own country had reviewed its efforts several years ago and, seeing that there was more to do, had doubled its aid budget of 2005, including a 200 per cent increase in aid to Africa alone. Australia, he stated, planned to double those figures again, making it the fastest-growing donor country in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and he pointed out it was doing that despite the impacts of the financial crisis.
Continuing, he said, Australia was also allocating $A5 billion to education in its overseas aid, as well as $A1.6 billion to women’s and children health and $A1.8 billion to food security. It would also work to open world markets to least developed countries which spurred private commerce, trade and investment, and thus alleviated poverty. He emphasized, in conclusion, that the goals, policies and timetable were clear, and that rather than begin with “another grand plan”, the international community “should simply begin by doing that which we say”.
MOURAD MEDELCI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Algeria, noted that today was a chance to review and learn of the obstacles facing the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. However, he pointed out that many countries, in particular African countries, would not be achieving those objectives, as their progress had been complicated by the global economic and financial crisis. The last African Union meeting in Kampala, Uganda, had focused on the Goals, specifically maternal mortality and children’s health. But he called for the international community to share the responsibility in achieving all objectives of the Goals. The eradication of poverty and hunger was, in his view, the main priority and “broadly determines” the others.
Continuing, he stated that the G-8 ODA played a “key role” in poverty reduction and that financial mobilization was at the heart of any action to achieve the Goals. To that end, he proposed several ideas for future actions in accomplishing that, among others, a moratorium on debt on countries that were struggling, and either cancelling or mitigating the debt burden on the poorest and the least developed countries, the increase of foreign investments to the poorest countries and an increase and improvement of market access from least developed countries to developed countries.
Algeria, having just completed its second national report on its progress in its efforts to achieve its Millennium Development Goals, showed improvement in reducing poverty from 1.7 per cent in 1990 to 0.5 per cent in 2009, with an additional 1 million housing units built between 2005 and 2009. School enrolment had increased as well, from 93 per cent in 1999 to 97.6 per cent in 2009. He said, in conclusion, that the challenges faced today required a response from the international community that was faster and better. “More than ever, self-reliance both through solidarity and developing everybody’s capacity and partnership for the poorest and most underprivileged” would, he emphasized, bring success.
MÁRCIA HELENA CARVALHO LOPES, Minister for Social Development and the Fight against Hunger of Brazil, said that despite sectoral advances in some countries, if current trends were maintained, the Millennium Development Goals would not be reached by 2015. Additional financial resources provided in a predictable manner were needed, particularly for the poorest. International cooperation must be accompanied by substantive reform of the international economic system, including in the area of governance. Overcoming obstacles presented by agricultural subsidies and tariffs, as well as by restrictive payments and unsustainable debt, was necessary.
For its part, she said, Brazil had set, reached and surpassed a more ambitious poverty eradication goal than that established in 2000 — to cut hunger and extreme poverty by three quarters by 2015. By 2008, the extreme poverty level had stood at 4.8 per cent, down from 15.6 per cent in 1990. The Government also had put a wide-ranging social protection system in place, reaching 70 million people each month, and significantly increased the minimum wage, which had improved the income of workers, retirees and pensioners. Income-generating policies had been expanded, while in education, 95 per cent of children were in school. In other areas, the wage gap between men and women had shrunk over the last five years. However, high levels of violence against women still posed a challenge.
Regarding health care, she said an important result had been a 58 per cent decrease in mortality in children under age 5, meeting the Goal before the deadline. Maternal mortality was a major challenge, despite a drop since 1990, and it required more targeted policies. To address HIV/AIDS, the Government had ensured access to antiretroviral drugs to around 220,000 more people. On Goal 7, Brazil had reduced deforestation in the Amazon, while 45 per cent of its internal energy supply came from renewable sources. As for the global partnership, Brazil was sharing successful experiences and deepening South-South cooperation. Between 2003 and 2009, the Government had concluded over 400 cooperation agreements with other developing nations and had granted $125 billion in debt relief.
MUHAMMAD MUMUNI, Minister for Foreign Relations and Regional Integration of Ghana, noted how his country had set the Goals as the minimum requirements of its development agenda. Achieving the Goals, however, was no simple task. Halving the proportion of people living in poverty in Ghana would require about $1.9 billion per year. Its economy still depended on exports of primary commodities, such as cocoa and gold; there was concern, too, that the discovery of oil could aggravate the situation. Agricultural output could meanwhile be affected by climate change.
Despite such constraints, he said Ghana was on track to attain middle-income status by 2020. According to the British Overseas Development Institute, it was on course to become the first African country to halve poverty and hunger by 2015. The maternal mortality rate of 451 deaths per 100,000 live births remained unacceptably high, however, and the challenge of halting and reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS remained daunting, though not insurmountable.
Turning to developing country debt, the Minister recalled that, two years ago, it was said that meeting the Goals, especially poverty reduction, would require increasing the annual flow of ODA by at least $50 billion to $60 billion. That figure definitely paled in comparison to what the developed countries have spent on bailouts and other measures to respond to the global financial crisis.
LUÍS FILIPE MARQUES AMADO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Portugal, urged delegations to seize the moment and implement the commitments made towards the Millennium Goals, and noted that for 2 to 3 October, his Government would host a ministerial meeting on the “mobilization of financial resources for the least developed countries”. That gathering would be an opportunity to review the issues discussed at the current summit and assess ways to collectively address them. He said that many countries, including in Africa, had made progress towards achieving the Goals, but that they all now faced the twofold challenge of adopting measures to produce results in the near future, as well as addressing new challenges beyond 2015.
Commenting on how the world had changed dramatically since the Millennium Declaration, Mr. Amado outlined new problems at hand, including climate change, the financial crisis and new geopolitical tensions. Building resilience to climate change was vital, and Portugal was involved in the global effort on renewable energies, believing that low-carbon development strategies would contribute to sustainable growth. Because mobilizing financial resources was also essential, Portugal supported ongoing work on innovative sources of financing, as well as favoured the creation of a new tax on financial transactions allocated to development, including the fight against climate change. Finally, concerning the role of emerging economies in achieving the Goals, Portugal stood ready to cooperate with and engage in a constructive dialogue with developing countries.
JORGE LARA CASTRO, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Paraguay, opened by saying that today’s world was in a process of transition to a new world order. Global change was accelerating, and there were many conflicts over the strategic interests of the great Powers, and the weaknesses of interdependent nations. Paraguay was a State that was vulnerable, due to geography and history. As a landlocked State, the country had been crippled by the looting of natural and strategic resources. One of the largest freshwater aquifers, the Guarani aquifer, was a strategic resource that required development on a just and equitable basis for all. Paraguay’s aim was to have sustainable development without compromising the needs of future generations. Sustainable human development was possible if the planet was sustained. Living in harmony with Mother Earth must be imperative, and was a historical responsibility for future generations.
Globalization posed a threat and required a shared undertaking for all people. The noble Millennium Development Goals represented the broadest consensus from all mankind, but the world was running out of time. By shouldering responsibility for the Goals, his country had worked with the public and private sector and civil society. The 2020 Plan, known as “ Paraguay for All”, was a policy and a guiding framework for social policy, and included universal access to public good and social services provided by the State, social and economic equity among people and institutional strengthening. With progress made and challenges pending, next year, Paraguay would celebrate its bicentennial, hopefully with a significant reduction in extreme poverty. There had been a significant absence of social policy for two and a half decades, and thus attainment of the Goals had fallen behind. Favouring more and better social investment, the universalization of human rights was key and an instrument of social coherence. Therefore, developed and developing countries needed to cooperate with financing mechanisms.
PAUL BADJI ( Senegal) said that the Assembly’s evaluation of progress towards the Millennium Development Goals showed there was an absolute duty to act and at the same time that it was not too late to achieve those agreed targets. His country was committed to doing so and would pursue tough reforms to improve the daily living conditions facing the people of Senegal.
However, the global and economic crisis had a negative impact and many challenges remained. Because of that, Senegal had refocused its efforts and would “opt for success”. To that end, it identified three areas of priority to promote development, including developing and encouraging lasting economic growth, which would facilitate young people’s access to employment and foster private initiatives; developing and modernizing agriculture, which one third of the population depended on for a livelihood, and which would stabilize food stability and stem the exodus of people; and the expansion and acceleration of basic services, in particular, health-care access, which was a prerequisite to eradicating infectious diseases and improving nutritional access.
There was, he said in conclusion, “no other option but to work together”, and he urged that respect for commitments made in the existing partnership for development be honoured. He also told the Assembly that Senegal was more determined than ever to work with others for “this better world we are looking forward to”.
Summaries of Round-Table Discussions
Providing insight on round table I, on “poverty hunger and inequality”, Co-Chair SHEIKH HASINA, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, said participants had agreed that concrete national and international actions were needed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, which were essential for economic and social development efforts. Member States had committed to pursuing policies for inclusive sustainable development, giving priority attention to alleviating the effects of recent global crises and climate change. The participants had also pledged to mobilize private and public sector resources and increased development assistance. Additionally, they had recognized the promotion of gender equality and the need to include women in all levels of decision-making and to implement gender-responsive laws.
Summing up round table II on “meeting the Goals in health and education”, Co-Chair GERT ROSENTHAL ( Guatemala) said that several speakers had underscored the link between education and health. As the two sectors were central to poverty reduction and achieving all the Millennium Goals, many interventions had stressed that they must be closely coordinated in national development plans. Inequalities in education and health were seen as barriers to attaining the Goals. It was therefore crucial to improve access to good-quality education and health services, particularly for women and children, those living in rural and remote areas, vulnerable and poor populations and persons living with disabilities.
On the work of round table III, on “promoting sustainable development”, Co-Chair ETTA ELIZABETH BANDA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Malawi, said that social, economic and environmental policies needed to be better integrated and the link between environment and development strengthened. National ownership of agreed development goals was crucial and commitment to better governance essential. All participants had given priority to improving access to clean water, reducing mortality, facilitating education and promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment. There had been a call to address the most fundamental rights of urban slum dwellers, including access to water and sanitation, adequate shelter, nutrition, health and education. Investment in ecological infrastructure had been underscored, and peace and stability identified as essential preconditions for sustainable development and a better quality of life for all.
Summarizing the work of the round table IV, on “addressing emerging issues and evolving approaches”, Co-Chair TARJA HALONEN, President of Finland, identified an urgent need for a new development paradigm with environmental sustainability and social inclusion at its centre. Moving to a green economy was both necessary and feasible, although several participants had said that financial assistance beyond existing commitments for ODA would be needed. A more comprehensive approach to the global financial and economic crisis had been called for; a long-term solution would require a review of regulatory oversight, pursuing reforms and putting job creation and decent work at the heart of macroeconomic policies. Basic social protection floors were important for combating poverty and rising inequalities. She also said participants were concerned that the importance of food security had been underestimated and had stressed that more investment was needed to feed a growing world and to improve rural livelihoods.
As for round table V on “addressing the needs of the most vulnerable”, Co-Chair WINSTON BALDWIN SPENCER, Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Antigua and Barbuda, said the international community must spare no effort to advance equality and non-discrimination in terms of gender, age, disability, ethnicity, geographical location and HIV status. More disaggregated data was need to determine who were the most vulnerable and why. Adequate resources were needed to tackle basic sources of vulnerability, such as lack of access to adequate nutrition, education, skills training, health services and decent jobs. Speakers had urged the international community to help vulnerable countries meet their specific needs and development challenges, focusing urgent action on effective aid and trade policies, fulfilling all ODA commitments and further mobilizing financing for development, capacity-building and technology transfer.
On Round table VI, regarding “widening and strengthening partnership”, Co-Chair TIINA INTELMANN(Estonia) said that, while the responsibility for development lay with both developing and developed countries, the role of civil society and the private sector had also been acknowledged. Increasing the effectiveness and quality of aid according to the Paris Declaration was most essential. Ultimately, participants had said, Governments were responsible for their own development. Another precondition to development was creating a stable and secure environment, involving the rule of law and the fight against crime. The round table had also acknowledged the need for a fair and equitable trading system to strengthen global partnership. Finally, it had recognized that many countries were in debt distress and that more mechanisms were required to deal with sovereign debt.
Action on Draft Resolution
The Assembly took up the draft resolution entitled “Keeping the promise: united to achieve the Millennium Development Goals” (document A/65/L.1).
A statement of financial implications was read out. It noted that at present, it would be premature to consider the financial implications of two events mentioned in the draft - a 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development and a 2013 special event for follow-up on achievements towards the Goals. Those implications would be considered at a later date.
The draft was then adopted without a vote and by acclamation.
ALI ABDUSSALAM TREKKI, former President of the General Assembly and co-Chair of the High-level Plenary Meeting, said delegates at the Summit had shown a spirit of consensus, inclusiveness and openness. The outcome document conveyed the urgency that only five years remained before the deadline to achieve those Goals. The document also stressed national ownership and outlined strategies to achieve the Goals. Inclusive and equitable growth was essential for achieving and eradicating poverty. Women had a central role and called development of strategies to help the poor pull themselves out of poverty.
He went on to say that the outcome went beyond the previously developed health strategy Goals. It focused on small-holder agriculture as a basis for lifting the poor out of poverty. In addition, the document called for strengthening health systems and recognized the special needs of Africa, as well as of the least developed countries. “We should be proud of this achievement,” he said.
RICHARD BOUCHER, Deputy Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, said that over the past decade hundreds of millions of people had emerged from poverty to build new lives based on their own energy and enterprise, but gains had been uneven. Too many mothers and their children died at birth from scarce sanitation and easily preventable illnesses, while fragile and conflict-ridden States had yet to achieve a single Millennium Development Goal. The economic crisis, threat of climate change and volatility of food prices compounded the challenge. To achieve the Goals by 2015, countries should harness their efforts to provide new economic opportunities. Developing countries should maintain the pace and scope of political and economic reforms, while developed countries should complement those efforts with stronger action in areas such as taxation, combating illicit capital flows and further liberalizing trade.
He said it remained vital for developed countries to meet their aid targets. Technical cooperation and financial assistance would continue to play a vital role creating infrastructure, education and systems needed by the poorest of the poor to better their lives. New donors, philanthropic organizations and innovative finance were playing a good growing role, but as global aid systems grew more complex, coherence of different programmes and policies needed to improve. The OECD would continue to lead the effort to improve domestic and private investment by putting in place systems to prevent, detect and punish corruption, which victimized the most vulnerable. It also felt a special responsibility towards tracking aid into a concrete set of development objectives, which could be measured and monitored. The OECD was committed, with a broad range of partners, to distil and promote best practices, integrating the development agenda into all aspects of its work.
William Lacy Swing, Director-General for the International Organization for Migration (IOM), said a growing body of research showed the impact of migration on development and that the links between migration and the Millennium Development Goals was complex and uneven. The links varied in each country depending on several factors, including the type of migratory movement; the characteristics, resources and behaviour of the migrant population; and various political social, legal and economic factors in the host country.
He said that migration cut across most, if not all, the Goals, with stronger links to some than others. For example, remittances helped to reduce poverty by providing families in the countries of origin with additional income, which helped to achieve Goal 1, on ending poverty and hunger. According to the World Bank, official remittance flows to developing countries last year totalled $316 billion, two times the amount of overseas development aid and nearly as substantial as all global foreign direct investment. “When migration is managed humanely, it supports the right to development and the attainment of MDGS,” he said. “Towards this goal, IOM has pioneered the integration of migration into development planning.”
BEKELE GELETA, Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), stated that, while progress towards the Millennium Development Goals had been made, success remained uneven and huge gaps existed. He affirmed his organization’s commitment to contributing towards the achievement of the Goals, noting that it strove to be the world’s leading actor in humanitarian action and disaster response. In 2009 alone, the Red Cross and Red Crescent reached 13.5 million people in 113 countries with disaster preparedness and risk reduction programs.
The Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies also contributed to Goals 4 and 5 (child and maternal health) through campaigns on measles, malaria and polio; support to Government-integrated child health programmes; training traditional birth attendants and community first-aid volunteers; and water and sanitation and blood-donation programmes, he said. Additionally, the Federation worked towards the achievement of universal primary education by providing education facilities in disaster situations; water and sanitation projects for schools; and support to orphans and other children made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS.
NAWAL EL MOUTAWAKEL, of the International Olympic Committee, thanked the Assembly for granting the Committee observer status, which confirmed the importance of sports in furthering internationally agreed development targets, including the Millennium Goals. “Time is short and the list is long”, yet the goals of the Olympic Committee were closely aligned with the Millennium Development Goals, which worked to eradicate poverty and hunger and use sports for community development. To that end, she said, the Committee had opened a youth development centre in Zambia, which would address community, health care and educational needs. Furthermore, the Committee was collaborating with relevant partners for children and youth education through the world.
The Committee was also using sport to promote gender equality for girls and women, which was part of its charter, she continued. At the next Olympics, women would be participating in every event. Through these and other efforts, the Committee and the Olympic community were using the power of sports to promote the Goals. “We are doing our best […] but we are fully aware more must be done,” she said in conclusion, and she reaffirmed efforts to use the power of sports to inspire people to be the best they could be, to foster peace and better citizens of today’s youth.
VIDAR HELGESEN, Secretary-General of the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, said that for development to be truly sustainable, it must be owned and led by those whose development was at stake. Political actors were a critical but often a weak link in ensuring such ownership; too often they had failed to capture citizens’ needs and expectations, or to hold the executive to account. The international community had meanwhile failed to support the strengthening of democratic accountability. Responsive politics were needed in order for development to be truly nationally owned.
Democracy was more likely to bring about development gains than other forms of governance, he said. Elections empowered people to articulate their interests; democracy also facilitated a flow of information about the needs and aspirations of the poor. Democratic Governments were more efficient in providing public services, as well as the rule of law. Making the relationship between democracy and development work in practice was a daily challenge. From experience, the Institute was in a position to stress the importance of supporting the integrity of elections, the central role of parliaments and political parties, and the effectiveness of democratic dialogue.
EL HABIB BENESSAHRAOUI, Secretary-General of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, said his organization was an important agent in promoting development throughout the world. It promoted progress by disseminating good practices among people and ensuring political solidarity between States, between the global North and South and between generations. It maintained a dialogue between cultures and gave voice to the recognition that culture was a source of social cohesion.
Progress had been made in achieving the Goals within the Francophonie community, but much remained to be done, particularly on the African continent, where the organization was a fertile ground for solidarity in development. New and traditional forms of resources had been mobilized to meet a challenge that endangered a large segment of the human society, the combat of poverty. Yet the multifaceted triple crisis in the financial, energy and food sectors was a threat to the progress that had been made in attaining the Goals. He said the result would be an unfair worsening of poverty. To address the challenge, the global economic crisis should be managed through shared governance in the same way that globalization should be managed. Those issues would be considered at the next Francophone meeting on 24 October in Montreal, Canada.
JULIA MARTON-LEFÈVRE, Director-General of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), said her organization was the world’s oldest and largest international conservation network. It had over 1,000 members ranging in size from small non-governmental organizations to States. The 1980 World Conservation Strategy developed by IUCN stressed the interdependence of conservation and development. It had been the first to give currency to the term “sustainable development”.
She said the concept of sustainable development was now commonplace, and yet 10 years after nearly 200 nations had agreed to integrate environmental sustainability into policy decision, the concept was still being defended and promoted rather than implemented. The latest research supported experience on the ground that achievement of several Goals depended on a rethinking of the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystems on the one hand and human well-being on the other. Among those were food security, poverty reduction, targets in water and sanitation, and natural-resource management.
“Investing in nature is investing in development and, at the same time, investing in the achievement of the Millennium Goals,” she said. The landmark study on “The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity” had gone far to demonstrate the contribution of nature to human well-being. Among those were tropical forests, food fish, coral reefs, medicinal plants and green marketing opportunities. Achieving the Goals would require a renewed focus and a redoubling of efforts by Governments and other actors, including civil society and the private sector. The new approach would put environmental sustainability at the heart of development efforts.
HARUHIKO KURODA, President of the Asian Development Bank, offered a regional perspective on the Goals, noting that Asia and the Pacific encompassed nearly three fifths of humanity, and that no global effort to achieve the Goals would succeed “unless our region succeeds”. Progress had been made, he said, noting that since 1990, 500 million people had overcome poverty in the region. The region was also likely to achieve near-universal primary school enrolment, attain gender parity in education, improve access to safe drinking water, and halt the spread of tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS. Still, it was home to two thirds of the world’s poor and still faced enormous development challenges, most notably in the areas of sanitation, literacy, infant mortality, gender equality and infrastructure.
He said the Bank had just launched “Paths to 2015”, a report created in partnership with the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and it remained committed to increasing its support, with dedicated funds. For example, its financing for clean energy had grown to more than $1 billion a year; water and sanitation plans had benefited more than 130 million people in the last five years; and school improvement benefited more than 22 million students.
ROBERT L. SHAFER, Permanent Observer for the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, said he was saddened by the dire situation of the more than 1 billion people living in extreme poverty and hunger; the international community should look to the short-term agenda and do as much work as possible, if it ever hoped to succeed in achieving the Millennium Goals by 2015. The targets regarding health were particularly important to Malta, and in the 120 countries on five continents where the Order was active, it was aligned with United Nations efforts to implement them. It was inexcusable that five diseases — pneumonia, diarrhoea, malaria, measles and HIV/AIDS – accounted for half of the deaths of children under 5, when low-cost prevention and treatment measures could save most of them.
He echoed the Order of Malta’s grave concerns over slow progress to reduce maternal mortality and improve maternal health, stressing its commitment to strengthening efforts in those areas. The Order had also mounted initiatives to provide care for the most underserved and needy in support of the promotion of sustainable public health and worked towards the goal of ensuring environmental sustainability by considerably expanding its activities in underserved populations living in slums. The Order was convinced more than ever of the importance of achieving the Millennium Goals, which, over the spectrum of human rights and social justice issues, were at the core of its mission.
SETHURAMIAH L. RAO, Permanent Observer for the Partners in Population and Development (PPD), said that, as an intergovernmental organization of 24 developing countries committed to the promotion of South-South cooperation, his organization was actively promoting the Goals. Since all the targets were linked, an integrated and comprehensive approach was necessary to achieve them. Priority areas for his organization included population data and analysis for sustainable development and poverty alleviation, universal access to reproductive health and HIV prevention, reproductive health commodity security and advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment.
While drawing attention to the regrettably low rate of progress in areas such as maternal and reproductive health, he said that renewed interest in those areas had nevertheless been shown by Member States, as evidenced by discussions at the last meeting of the Group of Eight (G-8) industrialized countries in Canada, and at the African Union summit in July. The WHO had reported a decline in maternal deaths around the world, but more intensive work was still required to collect and analyse direct data on the issue.
He noted with deep concern that the funding for family planning was lower today than in 1995. If that trend were not reversed, it would have serious implications for countries’ abilities to prevent unwanted pregnancies and reduce maternal and infant mortality, as UNFPA had warned. While statistics were lacking for South-South cooperation in those fields, evidence suggested that such cooperation was increasing. First-rate technical capacities existed in such fields in many developing countries, and greater efforts should be extended to fully capitalize on them through South-South and triangular cooperation.
FRANCESCO MARIA AMORUSO, Vice-President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean, stated on behalf of that 25-member group that the Mediterranean region was exposed to every aspect of poverty and extreme poverty with differing levels of development that could jeopardize stability there. It “must therefore be more deeply involved in pursuing the eight Millennium Development Goals”.
Public development assistance to the Mediterranean countries had increased but was still inadequate and some countries appeared unlikely to achieve the Goals by 2015 unless a supplementary effort was made. He noted that the region accounted for 60 per cent of the world’s water-poor populations, a factor that had “a huge impact on life, health, agriculture, energy production, transport — hence on the economy — the environment and biodiversity”.
He was proud to note that the General Assembly had adopted last July a resolution declaring that safe and clean drinking water and sanitation was a human right “essential to the full enjoyment of life”. In that context, he added: “I am solemnly requesting, in the name of the Parliamentarians of the Mediterranean, that this historic resolution does not remain a dead letter, but leads to the establishment of tangible rights.” The Millennium Development Goals, he said, provided a unique opportunity to do so.
RANSFORD SMITH, Deputy Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, said the incidence of tuberculosis had fallen in most of its 54 member States, while rates of primary education had risen significantly in many of them, and two thirds had eliminated gender disparity in education. Looking across the Commonwealth as a whole, however, much remained to be done. Prevalence of HIV, while falling in 11 of its member States, had risen in 16 others. Only 5 per cent of Commonwealth nations were likely to meet the target for reducing child mortality, and, “most shockingly of all”, two thirds of all maternal deaths occurred in Commonwealth countries.
He said that trade was essential for economic growth and poverty reduction, but the cost of the failure to agree on trade rules at the global level had largely been borne by the least developed countries and by small and vulnerable States. Political will must be found to deliver a fair, development-oriented conclusion to the current round of trade negotiations. Regional and other trading arrangements also should be pursued in ways that would strengthen productive capacity and improve access to markets, especially for women, youth entrepreneurs and small businesses.
The Commonwealth championed the linkage of governmental, business and civil society networks, he said. It was also guided by recognition of the interdependence of democracy and development. Achieving the Millennium Goals required the full engagement of all citizens; “people ownership” of the objectives was as essential as “country ownership”.
ALI MCHUMO, Managing Director of the Common Fund for Commodities, said that three quarters of the world’s extremely poor — 800 million people — lived in rural areas and depended on commodities and commodity-related jobs for their livelihoods. The implementation of the Millennium Development Goals could not be addressed without taking into account the imperative of commodity development. Commodities were particularly important in eradicating poverty and hunger, but were also relevant to many of the other Goals. Fairer international trade in commodities would result in more opportunities for poor farmers, directly influencing socio-economic conditions in many of the world’s poorest countries. Healthy and robust rural areas from fairer trade would alleviate the influx of people into slums, directly contributing to environmental stability and climate change mitigation.
Considering the importance of commodities for poverty reduction and the attainment of the Goals, he said, several systemic issues in the sector deserved attention, such as supply capacity limitation, including issues of technology, irrigation and seed varieties. Producers, especially smallholders, also needed to participate in the value-chain, while there needed to be appropriate instruments for tackling commodity price fluctuation and volatility, including consideration for the emerging issue of the “financialization” of commodity markets. More resources need to be committed in commodity development assistance by the international community, and he hoped it would be given adequate resources to continue making a modest impact in international development and the achievements of the Goals.
MELINDA FRENCH GATES, co-Chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation stated that the Gates Foundation felt an impatient optimism about the future and that the Goals embodied a similar spirit by recognizing “how much there is to be done, while at the same time signalling the scale and scope of the world’s ambition”. Continuing, she said that, although the view that the Goals were off track was technically accurate, that assessment obscured the extraordinary progress across the globe, and she pointed out that 4 million children who would have died in 1990 had survived in 2010.
Turning to the observation that progress hadn’t been evenly spread among all nations, she stressed that the fact that 1.3 billion people had lifted themselves out of poverty was cause for celebration, regardless of where they lived. “Bill and I started our Foundation because we believe that all lives have equal value, and I am not comfortable comparing one person’s suffering to that of another,” she stated. Pointing to the many successes regarding achievement of the Millennium Goals, she urged a sharing of best practices and that, rather than cut back on development spending which would shift an even bigger burden to the poorest, that support be increase in effective interventions.
RAJAT K. GUPTA, Observer and Chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce (India Chapter), said that five years ago when he had first addressed the Assembly, the role of business in the Millennium Goals was just emerging. Today, there was a dramatic impact in saving mothers and children from malaria. In the last 10 years, his organization had saved the lives of nearly three quarters of a million children across endemic countries in Africa. What was critical was a private sector approach to target scaling up and employing a war-room type strategy to meet the goal through better supply-chain planning, improved logistics and innovative financing approaches.
Healthy and developing societies created new business opportunities and new markets. That was why, despite the current economic challenges, investments in health must be increased. He urged stepping up commitments to get maternal and child health on track, and not to lose gains in malaria. Collective success was threatened with domestic budget cuts to health and international aid. Business needed to step up through innovative partnerships, co-investment and direct financial contributions. All three worked together in public-private partnerships. Partnerships could make good business sense and deliver sustainable development outcomes. The Goals could not be achieved without solving the smart urbanization issue. He concluded by saying that there could be no development without business, but added that business needed Governments to be successful.
LU ZHOU, of the Friendship across the Frontiers of China, observed that the old belief that profit was businesses’ only responsibility was no longer true. In fact, she said, business leaders from many developing countries, such as China, has shown that sustainable value did not come from profits but “from making a positive difference”. Governments alone could not tackle all problems and partnership, collaboration and commitment from the private sectors, and civil society was essential to achieve the Goals.
She called for the mobilization of resources and for enhanced South-South cooperation. With the knowledge of what strategies worked, where gaps existed and that a fairer trading system and private investment was essential, it was time for the private sector and civil society to explore new forms of innovative, multi-stakeholder partnerships focused on investing in the underprivileged. “The world is interconnected, what happens in one part, ripples and affects another part,” she stated and she urged focused efforts to achieve the Goals.
* *** *