Current crises threaten to roll back development gains, warns Ban

26 September 2008

The challenges posed by the weakening world economy, steep rises in food and energy prices, and climate change threaten to reverse previous development gains, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today, addressing the countries most likely to bear the brunt of the impact of these problems.

“This is especially true in the least developed countries,” Mr. Ban told the annual meeting of the foreign ministers of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, noting that recent data suggests that the number of people living in extreme poverty in LDCs is much higher than previous estimates.

“This complex development emergency makes it all the more imperative that we take urgent action,” he added.

The Secretary-General said he was heartened by the pledges made at yesterday’s high-level event, during which governments, foundations, businesses and civil society groups announced an estimated $16 billion in new commitments to slash hunger, poverty, disease and other socio-economic ills by 2015, the targets that make up the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

“With only seven years to the MDG target date, the world cannot afford to spare any effort,” said Mr. Ban, stressing that consolidating the global partnership for development, which is MDG 8, is particularly important.

“This will drive progress in the areas of aid, trade and access to new technologies and affordable essential medicines, where implementation is far behind schedule,” he noted.

On that note, he renewed his appeal to Member States to rapidly conclude the Doha round of trade liberalization talks, which broke down this summer, stating that a pro-development Doha round would be a strong catalyst for integrating developing countries in the international economy.

“If we truly wish to take the lead in our own development efforts, we must begin to transform an international economic system that affords some and denies others the benefits of development,” General Assembly President Miguel D’Escoto told the meeting.

He also cautioned that even if all actors meet their commitments, the MDGs mark only a beginning. “We must insist on long-term reallocation of resources to national priorities, the stepped-up transfer of technologies, reduction of agricultural subsidies and the opening of markets, all of which require significant resources and commitments from our partners in the North,” he stated.


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