The struggle for economic development, the need to do more to tackle climate change and the value of greater social cohesion were all spotlighted today by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as he travelled to Chile, the second stop on his tour to South America.
After arriving in the capital, Santiago, Mr. Ban told a high-level panel on the Global Partnership for Development that the world has a mixed scorecard at the midpoint of the race to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the series of anti-poverty targets which global leaders agreed to work towards by 2015.
While some progress has been made, he noted that almost one billion people still live on less than $1 a day, and that malaria, AIDS, other infectious diseases and malnutrition continue to exact an enormous death toll, especially among children.
More than half the population of many cities in poor and developing countries also live in slums, with little or no access to basic services such as sanitation and running water.
“Clearly, we are facing an emergency – and we need emergency action, while working with the strategic vision provided by the MDGs,” Mr. Ban told the panel, which included Chilean President Michelle Bachelet and Spanish President José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.
“The 2015 target date is a goalpost that cannot be moved. The clock is ticking louder every day. To reach the Goals on time, we have to take concerted action now.”
Mr. Ban also stressed the need for accelerated international action to deal with climate changes, which he described as “a serious threat to development everywhere.”
He urged leaders to play their part to ensure that concrete results can be obtained at next month’s negotiations in Bali, Indonesia, under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
After the panel, the Secretary-General held a meeting with Ms. Bachelet, and then tonight he is scheduled to address the Ibero-American Summit, which is also being held in Santiago.
Mr. Ban is expected to discuss how building and strengthening social cohesion, the theme of this year’s summit, is crucial to all the key challenges and issues faced by the UN, from climate change to migration to upholding indigenous rights and those of peoples with disabilities.
After leaving Santiago, Mr. Ban is slated to head to Punta Arenas, in southern Chile, and Antarctica to learn more about climate change. Later on the trip, he will travel to Brazil before heading on to Tunisia and Spain.
Yesterday, while in Argentina on the first leg of his official trip, Mr. Ban met President Nestor Kirchner and President-elect Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. He also held talks with Foreign Minister Jorge Taiana and several senior Argentine parliamentarians.