Launching the 2009 MDG Gap Task Force Report, Deputy Secretary-General Urges Governments to Strengthen Global Partnership for Development

16 September 2009

Launching the 2009 MDG Gap Task Force Report, Deputy Secretary-General Urges Governments to Strengthen Global Partnership for Development

16 September 2009
Deputy Secretary-General
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Launching the 2009 MDG Gap Task Force Report, Deputy Secretary-General Urges

Governments to Strengthen Global Partnership for Development

Following is the text of opening remarks by UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro at a press conference on the launch of the 2009 Report of the Millennium Development Goals Gap Task Force, Wednesday, 16 September:

I am delighted to participate in the launch of the 2009 Millennium Development Goals Gap Task Force Report.

As you know, the Millennium Development Goals are more than a set of targets; they are a solemn promise to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable.

In support of this promise, the Secretary-General created the Millennium Development Goals Gap Task Force in 2007.  The Task Force works to identify gaps in the world’s efforts to strengthen the global partnership for development called for under the eighth Millennium Development Goal.

I am joined today by representatives of the two United Nations bodies that co-chaired the Task Force on behalf of the Secretary-General:  Mr. Jomo Kwame Sundaram, Assistant-Secretary General for Economic Development in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, and Mr. Olav Kjørven, Assistant Secretary-General and Director of the Bureau for Development Policy at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).  I would like to thank them for their excellent work in coordinating some 20 United Nations institutions to produce this insightful Report.

Over the past year, the financial and economic crisis, the food crisis, the climate crisis and the influenza pandemic have combined to call into question our progress toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

In this troubled environment, Governments may be tempted to focus narrowly on national concerns.  This would be a grave mistake.  If recent events have taught us anything, it is that we are all interconnected.  It would be self-defeating for any country to ignore the fundamental fact of our global interdependence.

We made substantial advances in strengthening the global partnership for development under Millennium Development Goal8 before the financial and economic crisis began.  We now need a new push to counter the threat the crisis poses to our hard-won goals.

The Secretary-General has urged the international community to deliver on its long-standing commitments to increase financial and technical support to developing countries; to improve market access for poor countries; and to make medicine and technology more readily available to the poorest and most vulnerable.

There have been some encouraging signs. According to the Task Force’s 2009 Report, many donor countries have increased aid flows in recent years.  They have also reaffirmed their pledges to increase aid further.  I commend them for their leadership.

We now need to layout -- country by country, year by year -- how this increase in aid will be delivered.  To meet the targets agreed at the G8 Summit at Gleneagles for 2010, the Task Force reports that global aid would need to be increased by about $35 billion per year.  Of this, about $20 billion would need to be earmarked for Africa.  2010 is less than a year away.  There is no time to waste.

Some donors have already gone beyond the Gleneagles commitments.  They have allocated more than 0.7 percent of their annual national income to aid -- thereby meeting a target first agreed at the United Nations in 1971 and reconfirmed on many occasions since then.  I urge the rest of the donor community to follow their lead.

Debt relief under the Heavily-Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC) and the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative has also helped many developing countries devote more resources to health, education and social services.  Yet, the current crises are creating new pressure on the capacity of many countries to service their debts.  More support is therefore needed.

Aid and debt relief provide distinct forms of support, but neither is enough.  We must ensure that developing-country farmers, entrepreneurs and companies can sell their goods on world markets.  We need to undo the trade barriers that have arisen in response to the present crisis.  And we need to conclude the Doha Round of trade negotiations on terms that support development.

More specifically, the Report shows that we still face a situation where many essential medicines are not accessible to developing countries.  Prices remain high and trade restrictions limit availability.  We need to reduce the prices of essential drugs.  And we need to improve the supply of affordable generic medicines in developing countries.

Finally, the Report outlines the substantial progress we have made in increasing access to information and communications technologies in developing countries.  But, the current crisis threatens to undo our efforts to narrow the digital divide.  We must prevent this.

We must also ensure that the technologies we need to address global challenges -- such as climate change -- are affordable for developing countries.  This will be critical to our efforts to “Seal a Deal” on climate change at the United Nations Conference in Copenhagen this December.

Better economic times helped to strengthen the global partnership for development.  Now that a crisis is upon us, we must show that we can also work together in bad times -- when the poor, the sick and the vulnerable need us most.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.