Global crises need not hinder achievement of anti-poverty goals, says UN official

9 June 2010

While the global recession and other crises have meant difficult times for developed and developing countries, the United Nations development chief today stressed that achieving the poverty reduction targets with a 2015 deadline is possible, outlining priority areas for action in the next five years.

“If we are to reach the MDGs by the target date, 2010 must spark five years of accelerated progress,” Helen Clark, Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), said referring to the Millennium Development Goals of slashing hunger, poverty and a host of other socio-economic ills.

“That progress needs to reach the countries, communities, and marginalized groups which have been left behind – overlooked, bypassed, and unable to benefit from progress made elsewhere,” she said in Madrid, Spain, at the Conference on Development Cooperation in Times of Crisis and on Achieving the MDGs.

Miss Clark noted that the Goals – the most broadly supported, comprehensive, and specific poverty reduction targets the world has ever established – offers the means to a better life for those living in extreme poverty.

They offer the poor a life with access to adequate food and income; to basic education and health services; to clean water and sanitation; and to empowerment for women.

“Put simply, advancing the MDGs will be an important milestone in our quest for a more just and peaceful world,” she stated.

A special summit will be convened at UN Headquarters in New York in September to review progress to date, which, as Miss Clark noted, has been uneven across the Goals and within regions and nations. The summit offers a chance to generate new momentum around the MDGs, she pointed out.

“What is needed from the New York Summit is agreement by world leaders on a concrete MDG action agenda to reach the Goals by 2015,” she stated.

“While it is clear to all that these are challenging times for both developed and developing countries, my message to you today is that achieving the MDGs is possible.”

The Administrator noted that there is a range of tried and tested policies, which, if scaled up and adapted to the national context, can ensure progress. These include the concerted action by civil society, the private sector, philanthropists, political leaders, and the multilateral organizations who have come together in unprecedented ways to expand access to HIV medicines, support mass immunization, and scale up the distribution of bed nets to prevent the spread of malaria.

In this regard, she highlighted the MDG Achievement Fund, established by the Government of Spain, which is supporting over 120 initiatives in nearly 50 countries to speed up progress towards the Goals.

“With strong global partnerships, with committed leaders, and by applying what we learn and replicating and scaling up what works, we can achieve the MDGs,” the UNDP chief stressed.

She added that while any action agenda must be adapted to each country’s unique context, the UN’s analysis and experience so far highlights eight common areas and opportunities for priority action.

They are: the need to support country-led development; foster inclusive economic growth; improve opportunities for women and girls; target investments in health and education, in clean water and sanitation, and in the professionals who run these services; and scale up social protection and employment programmes and other targeted interventions.

Other priorities are expanding access to energy and promoting low-carbon development; mobilizing domestic resources to finance the MDGs; and the international community delivering on the official development assistance (ODA) commitments it has made and improving the predictability and effectiveness of aid.

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