|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Secretary-General, Hailing Lions Club International’s Generosity, Says Progress
Achieved So Far Proves Millennium Development Goals Can Be Reached
Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message to the thirty-fourth Lions Day with the United Nations, delivered by Robert Orr, Assistant Secretary-General for Strategic Planning, in New York on 16 March:
It is my pleasure to welcome all Lions to the United Nations. I thank you for focusing on the Millennium Development Goals.
More than a decade has passed since the international community agreed on eight Millennium Development Goals on extreme poverty and hunger, access to education, employment, good health and shelter, the right of women to give birth without risking their lives, and a world where environmental sustainability is a priority.
As we approach the 2015 deadline for achieving the Millennium Development Goals, we see broad and very encouraging progress on a number of fronts. We have met the targets of halving the proportion of people living in extreme poverty and halving the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water. There are remarkable signs of progress in our fight against diseases such as tuberculosis and malaria. Girls and boys have nearly equal access to primary school. And the lives of at least 100 million slum-dwellers have significantly improved.
This is all welcome. But the global figures mask massive disparities between and within regions and countries. Many people who have escaped extreme poverty are still vulnerable to economic shocks. Hunger remains a global challenge. Hundreds of millions of children are undernourished. Two-and-a-half billion people still lack improved sanitation. And the absolute numbers of people living in slums continues to grow.
The progress we have achieved so far proves that the Millennium Development Goals can be reached. As we push to the finish line, we are deriving important lessons about the importance of national ownership, targeted financing and innovation. The “Every Woman Every Child” initiative I launched two years ago with some committed leaders is now a global movement with the potential to save 16 million lives. Our “Sustainable Energy for All” and “Scale Up Nutrition” initiatives can also help millions of people.
The United Nations is committed to working with Governments, civil society, the private sector and others to address our planet’s major challenges. The new partnerships facility that we will be establishing aims to bring new dynamism to these relationships.
In that spirit, I salute the generosity and dedication of the Lions Clubs International and its 1,350,000 members worldwide. From helping to vaccinate 41 million children in Ethiopia, Madagascar, Mali and Nigeria to planting nearly 7 million trees, Lions continue to show admirable engagement in our shared mission to meet pressing development needs and objectives.
I hope your eyes, like mine, are now on the “ Rio+20” United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development to be held in June — a once-in-a-generation opportunity to shape our future. I urge you to strengthen your partnership with the United Nations on the road to Rio, at the Conference itself and in the years ahead.
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