While considerable progress has been made in the Asia-Pacific region towards reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) such as halving extreme poverty and hunger by 2015, some 766 million people there still live on less than $1 a day, a senior United Nations official told a workshop in Manila today.
The prevalence of underweight children and the proportion of people below minimum level of dietary energy consumption paint a “disturbing picture,” the Executive Secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), Kim Hak-Su, said in opening the two-day meeting.
The region is home to some 106 million undernourished children and some 122 million people living below the minimum level of dietary energy requirement, Mr. Kim noted.
The poor and malnourished tend to be concentrated in built-up areas in densely populated countries, increasing their vulnerability to communicable diseases, he told participants from 10 countries in the region.
The workshop on dissemination of the first UN Development Programme (UNDP)-UNESCAP regional report on the MDGs in Asia and the Pacific is being organized by UNESCAP, UNDP and the Philippine Institute for Strategic and Development Studies (ISDS), an independent think-tank.
The MDGs, adopted by a UN summit in New York in 2000, aim to tackle many of the world’s ills according to time-bound targets.
“What is needed therefore is that we in the Asia-Pacific region should demonstrate the political will to carry out the MDG commitments,” the Secretary of the National Economic and Development Authority of the Philippines, Romulo Neri, told the meeting. “It is clear that additional efforts and resources are required if we are to meet the goals.”