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Millennium Development Goals have unprecedented support, Annan says

Millennium Development Goals have unprecedented support, Annan says

Annan addressing the G8 in London
For the first time developed and developing countries have accepted their responsibilities for reducing poverty, while the targets for reducing vast socio-economic ills have garnered unprecedented political support, giving the world a make-or-break moment to improve the lot of the poor, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today.

In a speech prepared for delivery to an anti-poverty event at London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral, he focused on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which were approved at a UN summit in 2000 and which prescribe measurements and targets for the reduction or elimination of current socio-economic ills by 2015. Progress on achieving them will be reviewed at what is expected to be the world’s largest summit ever in September at the UN.

“All of you are here because, like me, you know that this is a make-or-break moment for the Millennium Development Goals – and for the world’s poor,” Mr. Annan said. “You know that how we fare for the next 10 years hinges on decisions that must be taken within the next days and months.”

Major advances in reducing hunger, improving access to safe drinking water and sending more children to primary school have been offset by women dying needlessly in childbirth, while HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria continue to spread and kill, gender equality is a distant dream for many societies, and environmental damage threatens food, water supplies, livelihoods and homes, he said.

“There is no autopilot, no magic of the marketplace, no rising tide in the global economy that will lift all boats. If current trends persist, some of the poorest countries will not be able to meet many – or perhaps any – of the Goals by 2015. Considering how far we have come, such a failure would be a tragic missed opportunity,” Mr. Annan said.

What makes the MDGs different from “the bold pledges that became broken promises in the last 50 years” is that rich countries and poor countries have accepted, for the first time, their responsibility to achieve these goals, he said.

According to the eighth MDG, he noted, “each developing country has a duty to its people to take charge of its own development” by instituting better governance, fighting corruption, devising measures to strengthen its economy and making real resources available to fund the fight against poverty.

If they achieve that, the developed countries must provide more and better quality development assistance, make the global trading system support development and offer wider and deeper debt relief, he said.

“We have a once-in-a-generation chance to bring about historic fundamental change. But it will depend on the will of governments and on the commitment of groups and individuals such as you,” Mr. Annan said.

“So between now and September, please keep making your voices heard, loud and clear enough to lift the sky. And keep raising your voices after that, to hold governments to their promises and to help translate those promises into action.”