Plan to slash global poverty 'is achievable in next 5 years'
Ten years after world leaders set the most ambitious goals ever to tackle global poverty, they gathered again yesterday to spur action to meet the deadline - which the United Nations claims will be difficult, if not impossible, in some cases.
• Despite little progress in countries such as Rwanda, the UN has said it will be possible to slash extreme global poverty. Picture: AFP
At the turn of the new millennium, leaders pledged to begin tackling poverty, disease, ignorance and inequality.
They vowed to reduce extreme poverty by half, ensure that every child has a primary school education, halt and reverse the HIV/Aids pandemic, reduce maternal mortality by three-quarters and child mortality by two-thirds. Goals additionally called for cutting by half the number of people without access to clean water and basic sanitation - all by 2015.
They also set goals to promote equality for women, protect the environment, increase development aid, and open the global trading and financial system.
The UN agrees the world is likely to halve poverty and hunger by 2015 but is behind in meeting the other goals of the initiative.
Yesterday in New York, UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon appealed to the richest countries not to divert aid from the poor to shore up their own economies in the wake of a sputtering global economic recovery.
"We should not balance budgets on the backs of the poor," Mr Ban told 140 leaders at the opening of a three-day summit to review the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
"We brought new urgency to an age-old mission. And now, we have real results. New thinking and path-breaking public-private partnerships. Dramatic increases in school enrolment. Expanded access to clean water. Better control of disease. The spread of technology - from mobile to green."
French president Nicolas Sarkozy pledged to boost aid to the world's poorest by 20 per cent over the next three years and issued a plea for other developed nations to join him.
"We have no right to do less than what we have decided," Mr Sarkozy said, adding that the UN should join in creating a small international tax on financial transactions that would go toward ending poverty.
British International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell called for a plan that would track progress in meeting the poverty goals over the remaining five years of the project.
In advance of this week's summit, diplomats from the 192 UN member states agreed on the document to be adopted which spells out specific actions to accelerate implementation of each of the Millennium Development Goals."We are convinced the Goals can be achieved, including in the poorest countries, with renewed commitment, effective implementation and intensified collective action by all member states and other relevant stakeholders," it states.
Many recent reports show the world's poorest countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, have made little progress in eradicating poverty. And in Africa, Asia and Latin America there is a lack of progress in reducing mother and child deaths, providing clean water and sanitation, and promoting women's equality.
"Many countries are falling short, especially in Africa," Mr Ban warned, adding that "inequities are growing," a problem compounded by the global economic crisis.
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