|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
AT LAUNCH OF KOREAN MILLENNIUM VILLAGE PROJECT, SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES
ALL PARTNERS TO ‘JOIN HANDS TO DELIVER ON OUR COMMITMENTS’
Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at the launch of the Korean Millennium Village Project, delivered today, 4 November:
I am grateful to the Korea International Cooperation Agency for this major contribution in support of the Millennium Village Project.
I am particularly grateful and excited that I am doing something, a very valuable project with my home country, the Republic of Korea, and I very much appreciate your initiative.
Let me also commend the Sustainable Tourism for Eliminating Poverty Foundation, and the Province of Gyeongsangbuk-do, for joining in this partnership. I thank Governor Kim Kwan Yong for his active contribution and initiative to this project.
In fact, I had an opportunity of discussing this matter with Governor Kim several months ago.
Your efforts are especially welcome at a time when many are predicting a sharp decline in development assistance because of the global financial crisis. The United Nations is working hard to ensure that this does not happen. I am grateful to all of you, and to the Government of the Republic of Korea, for your support.
Official development assistance from Korea to Africa has more than quadrupled since the beginning of this decade. The Korean Government has pledged to continue increasing its assistance. This is very commendable.
I am pleased to say that others are following this example. At this past September’s High-Level Event on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), I warned that, despite important gains, we were falling behind in meeting the Goals, especially in Africa. Governments, businesses, foundations and civil society came together and made new financial commitments totalling $17.5 billion. This will go a long way in improving people’s standards of living.
Those resources are desperately needed. In my first visit to Africa as Secretary General, I came face to face with this need in Kibera, Nairobi, the large slum in Africa. I was deeply moved by what I saw. Living conditions are totally unacceptable. I called on the people of Kibera not to lose heart, and promised to do all I can to improve not only their situation, but that of people throughout the developing world.
The villages that the Millennium Village Project supports in Uganda and Tanzania have poverty levels of between 40 and 50 per cent. Already, the Project has helped villagers in Uganda realize a bumper harvest that has boosted food stocks. It has also distributed thousands of nets treated with insecticide to villagers in Tanzania, saving many lives.
This approach is driven by the idea that villagers can overcome their own challenges given the right tools and environment. It empowers people to help themselves. This is the best way to ensure that improvements are sustainable.
Korea, for its part, can also offer its own experience of village-based development. Local authorities there are involved in a wide range of development and educational activities. So there is further scope for exchanging knowledge and expertise between the Province of Gyeongsangbuk-do and the Millennium Villages.
Tourism remains an important source of income to both Tanzania and Uganda. The expertise of the Sustainable Tourism for Eliminating Poverty Foundation will be invaluable in promoting development-friendly tourism.
There can be no let-up in our work to achieve the MDGs. Too many people continue to live in unacceptable conditions of poverty. Last week while visiting a small village in Bangladesh, I could witness how much difference a partnership between the Government and the United Nations could bring to the villagers in improving their living standards. All partners need to join hands in a broad effort to deliver on our commitments. I thank all those who have made the Millennium Village Project possible for contributing so much to that effort.
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