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Time to translate anti-poverty commitments into action, says Assembly President

Time to translate anti-poverty commitments into action, says Assembly President

Srgjan Kerim, President of the 62nd session of the General Assembly
The world has “a critical window of opportunity” this year to accelerate progress towards the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by translating earlier broad commitments into concrete action, General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim said today.

Addressing the opening of the Assembly’s thematic debate on the MDGs, Mr. Kerim said the world will only achieve the MDGs by the target date of 2015 if Member States show more commitment and dedication to the cause.

“At the midway point to achieve the MDGs… all of our commitments must now be urgently translated into practical plans with systematic follow-through by all parties,” he said, noting that current trends indicate the pace of progress so far has been too slow. None of the eight Goals will be met in sub-Saharan Africa without a dramatic improvement, for example.

“The stakes are high. If we achieve the MDGs on time, 500 million people will be lifted out of poverty, 300 million more people will be adequately fed, and 30 million young children’s lives will have been saved.”

Mr. Kerim said affluent countries need to do more to translate their commitments of aid or support into more concrete action on the ground.

“Donors need to issue country-by-country timelines for how they are going to increase aid, so partner governments can plan for essential investments in services. All of our attention must be focused on creating a more coherent development agenda, based on the nexus between Financing for Development, the Millennium Development Goals and the challenge of global warming.

“This is the only strategy we can adopt to create a more sustainable, just and equitable future for all.”

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the debate that too many countries are not on track to achieve the Goals, despite the laudable efforts so far in many parts of the world.

He said the UN was working to improve internal coordination and to streamline its procedures to help countries reach the targets, which world leaders pledged in 2000 to try to achieve.

Mr. Ban said he hoped that a series of gatherings this year, particularly the high-level meeting on Africa’s development needs scheduled for 22 September in New York, will send a strong message to governments that they should rise to the challenge of providing greater financing for development.

Representatives of dozens of countries will speak before the Assembly debate – entitled “Recognizing the achievements, addressing the challenges and getting back on track to achieve the MDGs by 2015” – over the next few days.

In a related development, Mr. Kerim and the United States businessman Ted Turner, chair of the UN Foundation, announced that the Foundation and the United Methodist Church and the Lutheran world movement are working together to try to raise an additional $200 million to fight malaria in Africa.