2005 is 'make-or-break' year for world's poor, Annan says

9 June 2005
Annan briefs press on progress report

Launching an interim report on progress towards internationally agreed development targets, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today said this is a "make-or-break" year for the world's poor, when world leaders must decide on concrete steps to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.

"It is a mixed scorecard," Mr. Annan told journalists at UN headquarters. "There has been a massive unprecedented reduction in poverty worldwide since 1990, led by Asia. But at the same time, the very poorest are getting poorer in sub-Saharan Africa."

If current trends persisted, many of the poorest countries would miss the MDGs, he said. "Considering how far we have come, such a failure would be a tragically missed opportunity."

The year was crucial in the work to achieve the Goals, he said. "In September world leaders will meet here at the United Nations, five years after they adopted the Millennium Declaration and 10 years before the Goals fall due. They will assess how far their pledges have been fulfilled and to decide on what further steps are needed."

"In many ways, the task this year will be much tougher than it was in 2000. Instead of just setting targets, this time leaders must decide on concrete steps to achieve them. They must decide on a plan to reach the Millennium Development Goals," Mr. Annan added.

In the run-up to the September summit, expected to be larger than the meeting of leaders who drew up the MDGs in 2000, the General Assembly was scheduled to hold a high-level dialogue on Financing for Development later this month and the Group of 8 richest countries would meet in Scotland in July, he said.

He welcomed once more the European Union's decision to reach 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income (GNI), a long requested target, for Official Development Assistance (ODA) by 2015 and that 50 per cent of such aid would go to Africa, boosting efforts to reach the MDGs by the deadline year.

He also was strongly encouraged by the commitment of the EU and other donors to agree on debt relief, improving the effectiveness of aid and the Doha trade negotiations.

"I look to all donors to follow their example and I look to developing countries to do their part - to adopt and implement with the support of donors, national MDG strategies as a key step to accelerating progress," Mr. Annan said.

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Video of Annan's openning statement [5mins]

 

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