Millenium Declaration Inspired Great Hope, but Progress on Anti-Poverty Goals Must Accelerate to Make Good on Original Promise, Says Deputy Secretary-General

4 March 2010

Millenium Declaration Inspired Great Hope, but Progress on Anti-Poverty Goals Must Accelerate to Make Good on Original Promise, Says Deputy Secretary-General

4 March 2010
Deputy Secretary-General
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Millennium Declaration Inspired Great Hope, but Progress on Anti-Poverty Goals Must


Accelerate to Make Good on Original Promise, Says Deputy Secretary-General


Following are Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro’s remarks to the General Assembly on the Launch of Preparations for the 2010 MDG Summit in New York, 4 March:

Ten years have passed since the adoption of the Millennium Declaration, in which world leaders made a promise to the world’s poorest, most vulnerable and marginalized people.  “We will spare no effort”, the Declaration reads, “to free our fellow men, women and children from the abject and dehumanizing conditions of extreme poverty.  We are committed to freeing the entire human race from want”.

That promise, as enshrined in the Millennium Development Goals, inspired great hope, led to a truly impressive mobilization of people around the world, and generated real and important gains in standards of living throughout the world.

Yet, with only five years left until the deadline of 2015, it is clear that we have to accelerate progress if we are to make good on the original promise in full.  If we continue on the current trajectory, we will fall short.  We cannot allow this to happen.

Failure is not only unacceptable in moral terms.  It would also make it more difficult to tackle ‑‑ and could even exacerbate ‑‑ many other challenges, from instability, violence and epidemics to environmental degradation and demographic pressures.

The 2010 Summit is a unique opportunity to scale up our efforts and agree on practical steps to accelerate progress to meet the MDGs by 2015.

Ten years of experience have shown that when strong commitments are backed by the right policies, adequate investment, and international support, remarkable progress can be achieved, including in the least developed countries.

What we need are immediate, large-scale, targeted interventions coupled with long-term, well-planned and well-managed national development strategies backed by responsive partnerships for development and measures that promote longer-term structural transformation.

We know that targeted interventions have powerful multiplier effects that can quickly improve peoples’ lives.  Subsidized agricultural inputs for farmers.  School meals for children.  Conditional cash transfers to poor households.  The elimination of fees for education and health care.  These are the kinds of steps that can dramatically increase access to essential goods and services, and quickly alleviate the immediate plight of many vulnerable people.

Of course, such measures are not a substitute for long-term national development strategies and structural change.

We must pay particular attention to inequality, social exclusion and lack of participation.

Gender inequalities remain another major concern.  The 2010 Summit should send a strong message that gender considerations must be front and centre in all our development work.  Toward that end, we must make the best possible use of the 15-year review of the Beijing Platform for Action, the 2010 Annual Ministerial Review on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and the imminent establishment of a new United Nations gender entity.

The horrific loss of life in Haiti and the devastation in Chile are painful reminders that reducing disaster risk is vital for the achievement of the MDGs.

The poor cannot wait.  We must not use the economic crisis, the food crisis or other setbacks as an excuse for failing to live up to our commitments.  The world has the knowledge and the resources to achieve all the MDGs.

What is needed is decisive joint action.  We need a clear agenda, with each actor ‑‑ not just Governments but also other stakeholders ‑‑ working efficiently, effectively and collectively.

Indeed, the Summit is also an opportunity for all actors to reconnect to the MDGs and to each other.  We, therefore, strongly welcome the decision by the General Assembly to involve civil society and the private sector in the run up to the September Summit.

In the coming months, there will be multiple opportunities for you to engage in dialogue with different stakeholders.  I understand that as early as next week, the co-facilitators will organize several interactive sessions.

Later in the year, hearings with non-governmental organizations and the Global Compact Leaders Summit on 24-25 June will provide additional opportunities to deepen that dialogue.  I urge Member States to support efforts to ensure grass-roots participation in the hearings by representatives from both the North and the South.

We will also undertake many other efforts to reach out.

The Secretary-General has decided to create three groups to engage in advocacy for the Summit:

-- The “MDG Advocacy Group”, eminent personalities from all walks of life who will raise awareness;

-- The “MDG Champions”, a group of celebrities and athletes who will lend their star power to this effort; and

--The “MDG Leaders”, business executives who have stood out for their strong commitment to the MDGs.

In addition, the Millennium Campaign will hold its annual “Stand up, take Action, Make a Noise for the MDGs” event over three days immediately prior to the Summit.  Last year’s Stand Up event attracted a record amount of more than 170 million participants.  I hope we can do even better this year, and show the leaders travelling to New York that the world expects them to act.

Substantive preparations are also well under way.  Later this month, the Secretary-General will issue his report for the Summit, which identifies MDG successes, highlights gaps, and lays out an agenda to accelerate progress.

Extensive work is continuing within the United Nations Development Group on analytical papers on each of the MDGs.  We hope these will help you in your deliberations in the six round tables and when working on an action-oriented outcome document for the Summit.

To support the Summit as One UN, an MDG Task Team, working under my direct supervision, will ensure that the diverse and rich expertise from across the United Nations system is a full part of the picture.

In closing, I wish you, Mr. President, and your two co-facilitators all the best for success.  As you now begin intensive preparations for the Summit, the Secretary-General and the entire United Nations system will continue to support you and the Member States in fulfilling the great and important promises that the world’s leaders made to the world’s people.

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