With the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) looming, United Nations officials today called on countries to accelerate action to meet the global targets that have spurred the fastest reduction of poverty in human history.
“With less than 830 days to go before the MDG target date, now is the time to accelerate progress – not give up,” said the Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), Helen Clark, at a high-level panel held on the margins of the 68th session of the General Assembly.
“Our efforts must focus on progress for the poorest and most vulnerable people and countries, many of whom have been left behind, despite global progress towards the MDG targets,” she said.
Achieving the MDGs will help address global disparities and lay the foundation for the post-2015 agenda, Miss Clark added.
Agreed by world leaders at a UN summit in 2000, the MDGs set specific goals on poverty alleviation, education, gender equality, child and maternal health, environmental stability, HIV/AIDS reduction, and a global partnership for development.
The targets that have already been met include halving the number of people living in extreme poverty and providing more than 2 billion people with access to improved sources of drinking water. Countries have also made great strides on health targets, and are within close reach of achieving them by 2015. These include reducing the mortality rates from malaria and tuberculosis and slashing HIV infections.
“Today, many nations have achieved what could have been considered a dream in 2000 – cutting in half the number of people living in extreme poverty, eliminating gender disparities in school, expanding access to safe drinking water, and improving living conditions for slum dwellers,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim.
“But progress on health, sanitation, and primary school completion is at risk. The challenge before us remains large. It is larger than the capabilities of any single institution. It goes beyond the capacities of most governments alone. We need productive partnerships among governments, the private sector, and civil society to accelerate progress.”
The panel also hosted heads of State from Bangladesh, Costa Rica, Ghana, Tanzania and Tonga, as well Melinda Gates, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and nine-time Olympic gold medallist and UN Goodwill Ambassador Carl Lewis.
At a separate event today, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appealed to innovators to use their creativity, ideas and inspiration to achieve the MDGs.
“You come from different fields of expertise – but you share the same understanding that we must help the most vulnerable members of our human family so that we can build a prosperous and peaceful world for us all,” Mr. Ban said at the MDG Innovation Forum held at UN Headquarters.
“Let us give hope to the more than 1 billion people who still struggle in poverty. And let us help them reach their potential – so that together we can create the future we want.”