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At UN, world leaders agree to scale up actions against poverty, set new development goals

Goal 1 of MDGs: eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.
World Bank/Jamie Martin
Goal 1 of MDGs: eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.

At UN, world leaders agree to scale up actions against poverty, set new development goals

World leaders meeting at United Nations Headquarters today agreed to take bolder action against extreme poverty, hunger and disease, and called for a summit to take place in 2015 to adopt the next set of anti-poverty goals, which will heavily focus on achieving sustainable development.

During a special event on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), countries adopted an outcome document which acknowledges the progress made since the eight global targets were set in 2000, while also committing to do more to tackle many remaining challenges and accelerate progress.

Countries also agreed to hold a high-level summit in September 2015 to adopt a new set of goals that will balance the three elements of sustainable development: providing economic transformation and opportunity to lift people out of poverty, advancing social justice and protecting the environment.

The President of the General Assembly, John Ashe, who convened the event, stressed that fulfilling existing commitments must be a priority for Member States, as the new development agenda will build on the MDGs.

“As we prepare to begin work on the post-2015 development agenda, the international community is embarking on a process with the potential for global transformation. We are working towards a framework that will address pressing global problems such as climate change and biodiversity loss, conflicts, population demographics, inequality and job insecurity,” he said.

“This new agenda must not only tackle the unfinished business of the MDGs, it must go further – leading to a great overhaul in how we approach the planet and its people. On many levels, for many people, the new agenda’s composition will be a matter of survival.”

At today’s event, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon presented to countries his report ‘A Life of Dignity for All,’ which outlines his vision for bold action to achieve the MDGs and for a new and responsive sustainable development framework that meets the needs of both people and planet.

Mr. Ban said the post-2015 framework “must be bold in ambition yet simple in design, supported by a new partnership for development.”

“It needs to be rights-based, with particular emphasis on women, young people and marginalized groups. And it must protect the planet’s resources, emphasize sustainable consumption and production and support action to address climate change,” he said.

In addition to Mr. Ban’s report, governments, civil society and the private sector have all contributed recommendations for the future development agenda. More than one million people also voiced their concerns through the UN My World survey, and UN and partners engaged in almost 100 national and thematic consultations worldwide so citizens could contribute their ideas and perspectives to world leaders.

On Monday, the high-level event, ‘MDG Success: Accelerating Action and Partnering for Impact,’ showcased further commitments from countries, the private sector and civil society organizations. The day-long meeting generated some $2.5 billion in pledged funds towards boosting MDG achievement.

Today, the European Union and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced they would step up efforts to reduce hunger in six countries before 2015 through agricultural development activities worth nearly €60 million.

“So close to the deadline, when there is still so much to do, this good investment in agriculture will enable FAO to increase its efforts to eradicate hunger and do even more to help countries halve the proportion of hungry people by 2015,” said FAO’s Director-General, José Graziano da Silva.

Some two million people will be reached through the joint initiative in Burundi, Burkina Faso, the Gambia, Haiti, Madagascar, and Mozambique.

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 deadline. These include reducing the mortality rates from malaria and tuberculosis and stopping HIV infections.