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UN calls for more action to tackle global poverty

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

The United Nations will host an international summit on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in an effort to push for concrete measures on how countries could accelerate progress toward the achievement of a broad range of international anti-poverty goals.

A report published by the UN highlighted the lack of progress being made and noting that nations only have until the 2015 deadline to meet their obligations.

Many countries had signed up to the goals launched by the UN in 2007 committing to the delivery of a broad range of international development goals identified by the UN that seek to target global poverty in developing countries.

These goals cover areas such as education, health, poverty and the environment were agreed. While some progress has been achieved most developing countries are still not on track to meet the desired targets by 2015.

The economic downturn has resulted in many nations failing to deliver on their aid pledges. One of the few exceptions to this, however, is the current UK Government who has both ring-fenced international aid from domestic public sector cuts whilst increasing their financial contribution.

Challenges such as the global food, climate, energy and economic crisis that have further affected the implementation process of the MDGs should also be addressed as a matter of urgency to ensure that the 2015 deadline is adhered to.

In relation to African nations that face a shortfall of $16 billion in aid, Africa accounts for 80 per cent of that gap in international donations raising the question that racism could be affecting the commitment of some countries to fulfill their international obligations.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated that:

“It is particularly distressing that the place of greatest need is also the place that accounts for the lion’s share of the shortfall”.

He singled out Belgium and the United Kingdom for praise for keeping up their assistance pledges, calling on other developed nations to follow their lead.

The new report cautions that economic recovery is “still very fragile and uneven,” hampered by the continuing job crisis and mounting public debt.

There are only five years left till the 2015 deadline for the MDGs and that other commitments made by groups of countries – including at the so-called Doha round of negotiations on reducing international trade barriers – have little chance of being achieved by this year.

The Secretary-General said today that the report’s findings should motivate world leaders, who will gather next week at UN Headquarters in New York to measure progress made so far towards achieving the MDGs.

“But while the gaps are serious, let us not be daunted by them,” he said. “Despite setbacks, shortfalls and obstacles, we have the tools and the resources to achieve the goals by 2015.”

Investment in the goals is an investment in global economic growth, and recovery hinges on progress made in developing countries, Mr. Ban said.

“We must not balance our budgets on the backs of the poor,” he stressed.

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