|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Press Conference on Launch of 2013 Millennium Development Goals Gap Task Force
Report ‘The Global Partnership for Development: The Challenge We Face’
A renewed and stronger global partnership was necessary to accelerate the race to meet internationally agreed development goals by 2015, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today as he launched an annual progress report on those global commitments.
“We are here today to help advance that effort for one and all,” he declared at a Headquarters press conference. Introducing the Millennium Development Goals Gap Task Force Report 2013, titled “The Global Partnership for Development: The Challenge We Face”, Mr. Ban said he was pleased to report progress, particularly on Millennium Development Goal 8, the global partnership for development.
The report showed that tariffs on exports from the developing world were down while exports from developing to developed countries were up, he said, adding that a larger proportion of exports from least developed countries were being admitted tax-free. Access to mobile phone technology and the Internet continued to expand rapidly, and some medicines, such as those to treat HIV/AIDS, were becoming more affordable.
“However, much more needs to be done,” he emphasized, pointing out that, for the first time in a long while, official development assistance had fallen for two consecutive years in 2012 while the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations remained at an impasse. Many more developing countries were in need of debt restructuring, essential medicines often remained unaffordable and hard to find, and access to new technologies was still limited in developing countries.
Turning to the nexus between the Millennium Goals and the post-2015 development agenda, the Secretary-General said that greater progress towards the current targets would fuel confidence and mobilize support for the new framework.
Accompanying Mr. Ban were Shamshad Akhtar, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Pingfan Hong, Acting Director of the Department’s Development Policy and Analysis Division, and Olav Kjorven, Assistant Secretary-General at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Ms. Akhtar stressed that now was the time to redouble efforts towards meeting the Millennium Goals despite austerity and the lingering effects of the global economic slowdown. Noting that official development assistance had dropped 4 per cent to $126 billion in 2012, after falling 2 per cent in 2011, she said it was possible to reverse the trend because several countries had increased their aid, among them Australia, Austria, Iceland, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Republic of Korea and Switzerland.
The report, she noted, made concrete recommendations in five areas: official development assistance, market access, debt sustainability, access to affordable essential medicines and access to new technologies. “All are attainable,” she said, adding that there was no better way to make the transition to the post-2015 agenda than accomplishing unfinished tasks.
Mr. Kjorven acknowledged the “tremendous efforts made day in and day out” by States in spite of scarce budgetary resources. “It was not by coincidence that a large number of targets have been achieved in a large number of countries,” he said. But with two years left until the 2015 Millennium Goals deadline, the timing of signs of erosion in the partnership between developed and developing nations — as seen in declining official development assistance trends — could not have been worse.
Asked about Syria, Mr. Kjorven said no country in conflict or emerging from it had made good progress on the Goals over the past 12 to 13 years, and Syria was no different.
When asked about the safety of affordable medicines, Ms. Akhtar stressed the importance of implementing national legal and policy frameworks to ensure compliance on the part of drug manufacturers and other stakeholders. Enforcement actions must be taken against purveyors of fake or inappropriate drugs, but many countries were far from having the necessary mechanisms in place. Civil society could play a role in reporting problems, she said, emphasizing that more international cooperation and exchanges of information were required in that regard.
Mr. Hong added that progress had been made in terms of the availability and affordability of medicines, citing an arrangement to allow developing countries to produce patented drugs without paying royalties. He urged drug manufacturers to set different prices in different markets, saying that even though they set lower prices in developing countries, they could still make a profit.
Asked why the report did not focus on the nations responsible for the decline in international aid, Mr. Kjorven said the authors wished to highlight the Governments that were showing the way, rather than shame those forced to cut back on aid due to their financial plight, such as Greece and Spain. Despite austerity, the United Kingdom had decided to increase international assistance in 2013, he pointed out.
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