Countries can halve extreme poverty and reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015 if they implement vital reforms and get adequate external support this year, "but by next year it might already be too late," United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today.
The MDGs, adopted in 2000, list goals to be reached by 2015 in tackling poverty, lagging rates of education, gender equality, child mortality, maternal health, HIV/AIDS, environmental degradation and global partnerships.
The goals could only be reached by building on the spirit and promise of the 2003 Monterrey Consensus for making trade between rich and poor more equitable, Mr. Annan said in his address opening the annual joint meeting of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the Bretton Woods Institutions - the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Trade Organization (WTO), which included for the first time, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
"But in the area where progress is needed most - trade - the record is mostly disappointing. Indeed, with the failure (of trade talks) in Cancun and a growing resort to bilateral trade agreements, we have backtracked significantly," he said.
Meanwhile, national policies, resources and strategies had to be focused on reaching the MDG's, Mr. Annan said.
"Domestic resources are the largest source of financing for development and can be especially effective if focused on education, health, infrastructure, capacity- and institution-building and efforts to improve regulatory frameworks and public administration," he said.
The developing countries, especially those that improved their investment climate, needed more foreign investment, while the 2001 Doha agenda, a mandate for negotiations to free up trade, should produce real gains for the developing countries by providing unhindered access to markets in rich countries and eliminating rich country subsidies for its own producers, he said.
Other promising ideas that have been proposed, such as the Global Finance Facility, needed action, while the high debt burdens of low- and middle-income countries that are not a part of the World Bank Groups' Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative had to be addressed, he said.
Video of the ECOSOC meeting [1hr 19mins]