The world’s shared goals for fighting poverty and other economic and social ills remain achievable in most countries, but only if political leaders in rich and poor nations take urgent and concerted action, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today.
Addressing the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in Geneva, Mr. Ban said the mid-point progress report on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – which was released today – contained encouraging messages.
“Countries in Africa and elsewhere are demonstrating that rapid and large-scale progress on the MDGs is possible,” Mr. Ban said, referring to the set of eight development objectives which world leaders have agreed to work towards by the target date of 2015.
This week’s ECOSOC meeting is focusing on two of the objectives: cutting extreme poverty and hunger in half, and building the global partnership for development.
The Secretary-General urged a “strong and sustained effort” towards the targets. “Advancing on these two items is essential for human uplift, and it underpins our entire UN development agenda… Needless to say, millions of lives quite literally hang in the balance.”
He called on the leaders of poor States to ensure they have national development strategies in place that focus on job creation, productivity, practical steps for increasing investments in key areas and improving access to markets.
But “all of this will simply not occur without adequate financing, much of which has to flow from a strengthened global partnership for development,” the Secretary-General warned, noting that progress towards the Goals has so far been too slow in some countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.
Mr. Ban said wealthy nations must keep their promises to eventually spend 0.7 per cent of their gross national product (GNP) on official development assistance (ODA) to poorer countries and “address the disparities in the global trade regime which handcuff so many developing nations.”
He stressed the importance of a successful conclusion to the current so-called Doha round of trade negotiations.
“Existing trade barriers, agricultural subsidies and restrictive rules on intellectual property rights reinforce global inequities – and they make a mockery of our tall claims to eliminate hunger and poverty from our world.”