22 October 2008
Press Conference

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York


The recent “Stand Up Against Poverty” event “shattered” the Guinness World Record for mass mobilization, with almost 177 million people –- close to two per cent of the world’s population –- participating, Shalil Shetty, Director, United Nations Millennium Campaign, told correspondents today at Headquarters.

Following the 25 September General Assembly High-level Event on the Millennium Development Goals (see Press Release GA/10752), there had been a massive public mobilization against poverty, and for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals from 17 to 19 October that had involved 131 countries and over 8,000 events, and had resulted in the participation of 116,993,629 people in almost all parts of the world, as verified by Guinness World Records, he continued.

Asia, Africa and the Arab States had the greatest number of participants, he said.  It was indeed appropriate that the parts of the world that lived “with the daily reality of poverty” were the ones with the biggest mobilization.  In 2006, the first year that the event took place, there was a participation of some 23 million people, and in 2007, some 44 million, he added.

The event had been initiated by the United Nations Millennium Campaign, in collaboration with the United Nations system as a whole, including the Department of Public Information and the United Nations Information Centres.  He said that many of the United Nations country teams had been heavily involved, particularly in the Philippines and Egypt, as well as some major partners such as the Global Call to Action against Poverty.

He said the coming period was the “countdown” to achievement of the Millennium Development Goals 2015.  It was, therefore, heartening that people in remote villages and in the slums in Africa, Asia and Latin America were standing up and taking action.  In Badarpur Khadar, a village near Delhi, India, he had personally witnessed people “standing up” and deciding to start a school, as they never had a school there.  Millions of trees had been planted over the weekend.  Through standing up and taking action, participants had sent a “wake-up call” to Governments that time was running out, and that leaders were expected to take action.

He went on to say that several Heads of States and Government had participated –- among them the Presidents of the Philippines and Rwanda -- as well as the Prime Ministers of Nepal and the United Kingdom.  A parliamentarian group in Uganda had participated as well.  There had been “massive” media coverage in many parts of the world.  “We are very proud that there has been such a massive citizen’s response for the Millennium Development Goals and against poverty.”

Answering a correspondent’s question, he said Eveline Herfkens had been actively involved in support of the campaign in Europe.  She had been working on a $1 a year basis, in an arrangement with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).  She had been working with Marina Ponte, the Executive Head of the European Campaign.

* *** *

For information media • not an official record