Around $16 billion in new commitments unveiled at UN anti-poverty event

25 September 2008
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (C), Bill Gates (L), and Gordon Brown

Governments, foundations, businesses and civil society groups have rallied around the call to action to slash poverty, hunger, disease and other socio-economic ills by 2015, by announcing an estimated $16 billion in new commitments to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), at a high-level event at United Nations Headquarters.

“Today we did something special. We brought together a broad coalition for change,” Mr. Ban told a news conference at the end of the day-long event, which he convened with General Assembly President Miguel D’Escoto.

The gathering “exceeded our most optimistic expectations,” he stated, noting that it generated an estimated $16 billion, including some $1.6 billion to bolster food security, more than $4.5 billion for education and $3 billion to combat malaria.

“If so, that expression of global commitment would be all the more remarkable because it comes against the backdrop of financial crisis,” said the Secretary-General, who recently reported that soaring food and fuel prices and the global economic downturn are impeding advances in meeting the internationally agreed anti-poverty targets.

“Today, we have strengthened the global partnership for development,” Mr. Ban told participants at the event’s closing. “Your resolve to act is evident. Yes, you have stepped up to confront growing challenges. Now, I urge you to move with more speed and focus.”

Mr. Ban has called for a summit on the MDGs in 2010 to further assess the delivery of the commitments undertaken.

Mr. D’Escoto said the new initiatives will inject new energy, resources and hope into global efforts to achieve the Goals. “However, these good efforts, as important as they are, are not enough,” he noted.

“The only way we can alleviate the suffering of the world’s poor is by creating a sound and just international economic system,” he stated, urging participants to work towards progress on the stalled Doha round of trade liberalization talks. “Ultimately, all countries are responsible for their own development. But everyone must have fair opportunities to do so.”

Nonetheless, he acknowledged the great strides made today. “We must go forward in partnership, for what we can achieve together is far greater than what any country or organization can accomplish alone.”

Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero today added his voice to the chorus of those expressing disappointment at the lack of progress in alleviating the lot of the world’s hundreds of millions of poor people.

“We have not advanced as much as we should have. We have not progressed as we had planned. We have done something wrong,” he told the General Assembly on the third day of its annual General Debate.

“And yet the urgency is the same if not greater than it was when the Millennium Goals were adopted,” he said. “We cannot hold back. We cannot blame our failure to fulfil our obligations on the situation in the markets. We cannot hide behind circumstances to avoid our pledges.

“It is not only a matter of heeding ethical imperatives, which in themselves cannot be delayed. It is a matter also if acting responsibly in support of international stability and equilibrium.”


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