Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on Japan and the Republic of Korea to step up their efforts on climate change, food security and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in a speech to the Japan Society and the Korea Society in New York.
“We need countries such as Japan and the Republic of Korea to offer concrete measures to address three pressing, interrelated challenges: the global food crisis, climate change, and the race to reach the Millennium Development Goals by the deadline of 2015,” Mr. Ban said at last night’s event.
Referring to the global crisis caused by soaring food prices, Mr. Ban called on both countries to deliver on a full range of immediate food assistance over the next 18 months, minimize export restrictions on food commodities, cut agricultural subsidies and to increase the share of Official Development Assistance (ODA) from its current level of three per cent to 10 per cent.
“When the Group of Eight leaders meet in Hokkaido next month, they have a moral obligation to support the UN’s efforts to address the food crisis, in the short-, medium-, and long-term. But they also have a self-interested motivation,” the Secretary-General said. “If not addressed, high food prices may drive more than 100 million more people into poverty. If the crisis is not brought under control, it risks unleashing large population movements, instability and inflation throughout the world.”
On climate change Mr. Ban called on Japan and the Republic of Korea to “show real leadership” by focusing on ongoing negotiations to produce a new deal at next year’s summit in Copenhagen.
On the MDGs – a set of anti-poverty targets to be achieved worldwide by 2015 – Mr. Ban called for greater attention to be given to the goal of improving maternal health, which he said was the “slowest moving target of the MDGs.”
As well as increasing aid levels, especially for Africa, the Secretary-General said the international community, Japan and the Republic of Korea included, should build comprehensive primary health care systems, ensure universal access to reproductive health services, mobilize against AIDS, malaria TB and neglected tropical diseases, and provide funding for 120 million desperately needed insecticide-treated bed nets.
The Secretary-General also applauded the agreement among Japan, the Republic of Korea and China to hold their first trilateral summit, and to cooperate on climate change, the food and energy crisis and assistance to Africa.
“All three are working together as part of the multilateral six-party talks on denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, a process that carries the most realistic promise to defuse one of the gravest security threats in the region,” he added.