New York

08 March 2012

Secretary-General's remarks at press conference on Millennium Development Goals

SG: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen,
I came here today with two of my top development experts - senior advisers.  I am pleased to be with them.  I wanted to announce loud and clear what has become ever more apparent: when we pull together, we can achieve great things.
Partnerships for development work – they are good investment.
It is now more than a decade since the international community agreed on the eight Millennium Development Goals and their numerous related targets.
The deadline for achieving them is 2015.
Today, I am gratified to tell you that we can report broad progress.
First, the World Bank has announced that preliminary estimates indicate that the global target of cutting by half the proportion of people living in extreme poverty was achieved in 2010.
In addition, the number of people living in extreme poverty has also declined in all regions of the world, including in Africa where challenges are greatest. 
Second, this week a joint UNICEF/WHO report announced that the world has met the MDG target of halving the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water.
Third, the world has made progress in driving down tuberculosis, with 40 per cent fewer deaths compared to 1990, and global malaria deaths have declined by nearly a third over the past decade.
Fourth, we now see near parity in primary education between girls and boys.
Fifth, we have achieved the MDG target of significantly improving the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers – ten years in advance of the 2020 deadline.
These are major achievements. 
Nonetheless, big challenges remain. 
The global figures mask massive disparities between and within regions and countries.
Only 61 per cent of people in sub-Saharan Africa have access to improved sources of water, while the level in most other regions is 90 per cent or higher.
Furthermore, with 2.5 billion people lacking improved sanitation, the world is unlikely to meet the MDG sanitation target.
Lack of sanitation is also a major obstacle to girls’ school attendance.
Many people who have escaped extreme poverty are still vulnerable.  Their incomes have not risen sufficiently to protect them from shocks, such as the impending food crisis in the Sahel region.
Hunger remains a global challenge.
Hundreds of millions of children are undernourished.  Stunting affects almost 200 million children worldwide.
And the absolute numbers of people living in slums continues to grow.
But today’s figures tell us that the MDGs can be achieved – and more.
We have learned much.
The MDGs brought not only better results but also better ways of measuring that have led to greater accountability.
We know that national ownership and leadership are central to success.
We know that well-directed financing brings development dividends.
We know that innovations – in technology, medicine, social policy and service delivery – can bring dramatic change.
And we know that partnerships work.
Every Woman Every Child is now a global movement, set to save 16 million lives.
We plan to make a similar impact with Sustainable Energy for All and the Scale Up Nutrition programme.
Our new partnerships facility will harness public and private partnerships to achieve the MDGs and support sustainable development.
Working together, governments, the United Nations family, the private sector and civil society can succeed in tackling the greatest challenges.
This is also my message as we move towards the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development.
As the 2015 deadline is fast approaching, we must be united and steadfast in our resolve to accelerate progress and achieve the MDGs. This is my commitment to build the future we want.
Thank you.