Role of local governments critical to achieving global anti-poverty goals – Migiro

24 September 2008

Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro today highlighted the vital role played by local authorities in efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – the globally agreed set of eight targets for slashing poverty, illiteracy and other socio-economic ills by 2015 – and improving the lives of their communities.

“Local governments are critical because of their proximity to the very people who are the beneficiaries of the MDGs,” Ms. Migiro said during an event at UN Headquarters in New York focusing on the contribution of local authorities to the Goals.

“Indeed, local authorities have a major role to play in the determination of the specificities of means of livelihood, in the running of primary health and educational facilities, and the provision of basic services such as water and sanitation,” she added.

Ms. Migiro noted that, for a number of years now, the UN has helped governments to ‘localize’ the MDGs. “Initially, this meant adapting the global MDG targets to the national level, to better reflect existing national contexts and ownership.

“In recent years, the emphasis has shifted to translating such ‘national’ MDG targets into sub-national or local targets and on supporting local efforts to achieve them,” she said.

Stressing that the role of local actors is critical, she urged that they be provided with the necessary financial and technical support to be able to carry out their important work.

Tomorrow Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and General Assembly President Miguel D’Escoto will be convening a high-level gathering to review progress to date, identify gaps and commit to concrete steps to ensure that all countries can achieve the MDGs.

Ms. Migiro said that while many countries have made significant progress, aggregate figures can conceal local disparities. “Without efforts that extend all the way to the local level – villages, districts, cities and regions can slip backwards,” she cautioned.

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