United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called on all governments to live up to their pledge to halve extreme poverty by 2015 in line with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) agreed on at a world summit four years ago, a process which he said has not being going well overall.
“The goals remain feasible and affordable, but we need a quantum leap in aid, debt relief and trade concessions on the part of developed countries,” he said in a message yesterday to mark the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. “And we need similarly dramatic changes on the part of developing countries.”
Mr. Annan noted that most countries in Asia and Northern Africa are on track to halve extreme poverty and to achieve many of the social targets. Countries in West Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean have generally made good progress towards some individual goals, such as universal primary education, but have been less successful in reducing poverty, he added.
States in sub-Saharan Africa and other least developed countries are making far from adequate progress on most of the goals.
“Next September, world leaders will gather at UN Headquarters for a high-level event to review progress in implementing the Millennium Declaration they adopted in 2000. But even now, well before that event, we already know that a major breakthrough will be needed if the eight Millennium Development Goals derived from the Declaration are to be met by the target year of 2015,” Mr. Annan said.
Employment is the missing link between national economic growth and poverty reduction, the Director-General of the UN International labour Organization (ILO), Juan Somavia, said in his message.
“Indeed, inequality is worsened when growth, which creates wealth, is not accompanied by decent jobs, which spread wealth, fostering consumption, and driving investments. When that sound market cycle is broken, we are in trouble – as we are today,” he said.
“The problem is not poverty of effort, but poverty of opportunity,” he added.
More than a billion people are now unemployed, underemployed, or among the working poor, Mr. Somavia said. “Efforts to fulfill our collective commitments to fight poverty will fall short unless we focus on creating job opportunities and decent work for all.”