Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told a gathering of world leaders and top figures from the private sector, foundations and civil society that it is time to inject new energy into the global partnership to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) if countries are to slash poverty, illiteracy and other socio-economic ills by the target date of 2015. “While we are moving in the right direction, we are not moving fast enough,” Mr. Ban declared, as he opened a high-level event at United Nations Headquarters in New York to pinpoint gaps and identify further steps to accelerate progress towards achieving the MDGs.
Convened jointly by Mr. Ban and General Assembly President Miguel D’Escoto, the meeting came just days after a new UN report found that soaring food and fuel prices and the global economic downturn are impeding advances in meeting such targets as eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education and reducing child mortality.
“The current financial crisis threatens the well-being of billions of people, none more so than the poorest of the poor,” said Mr. Ban, adding that this only compounds the damage being caused by much higher prices for food and fuel.
The Secretary-General pointed out that there have been many successes, including the 7.5 million lives saved thanks to measles vaccinations, the inroads made against AIDS and surging school enrolment in several African countries.
At the same time, the number of poor people in sub-Saharan Africa has actually risen between 1990 and 2005. In addition, there are “disturbing” gender gaps in health, education, employment and empowerment.
“We must rise to all of these challenges immediately,” stated Mr. Ban. “We must inject new energy into the global partnership for development.”
Mr. D’Escoto said the progress made so far towards the Goals, with few exceptions, has been “limited,” with many countries having fallen behind and unlikely to achieve the Goals by the target date.
“Eight years after we adopted the Millennium Declaration, global inequality remains exactly the same or has even deteriorated since 2000, and the planet is at serious risk of not meeting the basic needs of the poorest of the poor,” he told the gathering.
The President stressed that a significant increase in international aid for the world’s poorest countries is essential for global development. While all donor countries have pledged to allocate 0.7 per cent of their gross domestic product (GDP) to development cooperation, very few have lived up to this commitment, he stated, adding that “for every dollar that the developed countries spend on international assistance, they invest $10 in military budgets.
“It is calculated that the amount spent so far on the Iraq war could have paid for a full course of primary schooling for all of the world’s children and youth who are not in school. The price of a single missile is enough to build about 100 schools in any country in Africa, Asia or Latin America,” Mr. D’Escoto stated.
Thursday, September 25th's day-long gathering featured several roundtables on poverty and hunger, education and health, and environmental sustainability, as well as a series of side events, including the launch of the Global Malaria Action Plan during which billions of dollars in new funding to curb the spread of the disease and boost research will be announced.