Focusing on Needs of Most Vulnerable Lays Foundation for More Sustainable, Prosperous Tomorrow, Says Secretary-General, at MDG Report Launch

23 June 2010

Focusing on Needs of Most Vulnerable Lays Foundation for More Sustainable, Prosperous Tomorrow, Says Secretary-General, at MDG Report Launch

23 June 2010
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Focusing on Needs of Most Vulnerable Lays Foundation for More Sustainable,


Prosperous Tomorrow, Says Secretary-General, at MDG Report Launch


Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to a press conference to launch the 2010 Millennium Development Goals report in New York, 23 June:

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.  Thank you very much for joining us.

Today, we are releasing the 2010 Millennium Development Goals Report.  It pulls together the latest analysis and data from more than 25 United Nations and international agencies around the world.

As the report shows, despite the financial crisis, the food crisis, the fuel crisis, the world is still making progress on reducing poverty, albeit more slowly.  The overall poverty rate is expected to fall to 15 per cent by 2015.  That means about 920 million people will be living below the international poverty line.  That is half the number in 1990.

Yes, the sharpest reductions are in Asia.  But the report also finds that the greatest progress in primary education is in sub-Saharan Africa.  We have seen important headway in child health and gender equality in Latin America and the Caribbean.

There is bad news, as well.  Around the world, across the MDGs, progress has been uneven.  In some areas, we are sliding back.  Take poverty, for example.  Even before the food and financial crises, hunger and malnutrition in South Asia were on the rise, taking us in the wrong direction.  Stubborn gaps persist between rich and poor, between rural and urban, between males and females.

As this report shows, a girl in one of the poorest households is 3.5 times more likely to be out of school than a girl from the richest household.  And if girls are out of school, economies won’t make the grade.  That is just one finding.  But it illustrates a much larger point:  Meeting the MDGs goes beyond development.  At bottom, it is about generating growth — global economic growth.

And here, we must recognize a simple fact:  in today’s world, economic dynamism lies in emerging economies.  Like never before, global economic recovery depends on growth in developing countries.  That is why I am paying three visits to Africa this month — to highlight the importance of meeting the MDGs for all of us.

I will also take that human development message with me to the G-20 Summit in Toronto later this week.  We need to strengthen our focus on three areas:  priorities; political will; and partnerships.

Job one is jobs.  Today, world unemployment is the highest on record.  Two hundred and eleven million people are unemployed — and the world needs to create 470 million new jobs in the next 10 years simply to keep pace.

It is time to focus on decent work, not only in wealthy nations, but everywhere.  That means common sense investments in green jobs, economic opportunity for women, and more help for the biggest workforce in the world, small farmers.  Economic recovery can’t be sustainable without job recovery.

Similarly, we must focus on food security.  Delivering on L’Aquila commitments is a good starting point.  We must also use the crisis as an opportunity to plant the seeds of a green recovery:  investments in clean and sustainable energy.

Second, we need greater political will.  Success begins at home — and developing countries must lead in national plans to meet development goals.  But success doesn’t end there.  The world’s largest economies have pledged to double development aid to Africa.  Smart, reliable investments can make the difference.

One of the most effective places is maternal and child health.  In Canada, I will urge leaders to support our global action plan on women’s and children’s health.  In the twenty-first century, it is unacceptable that mothers should be dying during childbirth.

Third, partnerships.  We need to expand the coalition for action.  That is why I am announcing, today, that we will establish the MDG Advocacy Group — some of the world’s leading thinkers and doers coming together to combat poverty.  The Group will be led by co-chairs President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero of Spain.

The Group will include:  Muhammad Yunus of Bangladesh; Stine Bosse of Denmark; former President Michelle Bachelet of Chile; Philippe Douste-Blazy of France; Hiromasa Yonekura of Japan; Wangari Maathai of Kenya; Dho Young-Shim of the Republic of Korea; Julio Frenk of Mexico; Akin Adesina of Nigeria; Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser of Qatar; Jan Eliasson of Sweden; Graça Machel of South Africa and Mozambique; and from the United States, Ray Chambers, Bill Gates, Ted Turner and Professor Jeffrey Sachs.  Distinguished personalities from China, India, Japan and the United Kingdom will also join the Group.  As you can see, a real collection of superheroes in defeating poverty.

We need to emerge from the September Millennium Development Goals Summit with concrete national action plans for realizing the Goals.  These Advocates can help get us there.  They will help generate political will and mobilize a global grass-roots movement to meet the MDGs.  Prime Minister Zapatero of Spain will host the first meeting in Madrid next month, where I will participate myself.

To sum up, this report shows that economic uncertainty cannot be an excuse to slow down our development efforts.  It is a reason to speed them up.

By investing in the MDGs, we invest in global economic growth.  By focusing on the needs of the most vulnerable, we lay the foundation for a more sustainable and prosperous tomorrow.

Thank you.  This report will be available to all of you.

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