How to implement global anti-poverty goals topped the agenda of a meeting of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) at United Nations Headquarters in New York today, which brought together senior UN officials and their counterparts from across the globe.
ECOSOC President Marjatta Rasi of Finland stressed the Council's central role in fostering "pro-poor" policies and following up on commitments made at major UN conferences. She especially stressed the importance of attaining targets set in the Brussels Plan of Action for the most economically disadvantaged States and in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) adopted at a 2000 UN summit.
During its substantive session later this year, ECOSOC will hold a high-level meeting on mobilizing resources and fostering an enabling environment for poverty eradication in the coming decade.
Anwarul K. Chowdhury, the Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, said this theme would provide a special opportunity for the international community to consider proactively the specific measures that could be taken to help those nations.
Looking forward to a meeting next month between ECOSOC and the "Bretton Woods" international financial institutions, he said participants should focus on issues related to financing for development within the framework of the Brussels action plan.
He added that the April meeting should foster dialogue aimed at enhancing coordination among multilateral agencies for the effective delivery of development and poverty reduction support. Until now, he said, all financing for development to support those countries had been based on official development assistance. With the new challenges being faced today, attention should be turned to increased foreign direct investment, debt cancellation, trade opportunities and, at the same time, new avenues besides the traditional financing support for LDCs.
Ambassador Chowdhury said for their part, those countries should further explore "South-South" cooperation as an alternative - not as a substitute - way to fund their development. He also hailed the UN's establishment last year of a World Solidarity Fund to support the poorest countries and said it should become operational as soon as possible.
Jeffrey Sachs, Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Adviser on the MDGs, told the session that to really improve security, it was necessary to think about the children that were dying in the LDCs - 100 infants out of every 1,000 - as well as the fact that life expectancy in those countries had not improved in 50 years while life expectancy in the developed countries has risen to 80.
Mr. Sachs emphasized that the problem centred on inadequate resources to meet international anti-poverty goals. Noting that every day, tens of thousands of Africans died of HIV/AIDS without stirring any attention, he called for action to focus on those who are dying, rather than on budgetary considerations.