SECRETARY-GENERAL WARNS WORLD FALLING SHORT
NEW YORK, 1 October -- United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today warned that the world was falling short in meeting the objectives agreed by global leaders two years ago in the Millennium Declaration and outlined a series of steps being taken by the United Nations and its partners to help accelerate progress towards achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Presenting his first annual progress report on implementing the Millennium Declaration, about which he will brief the General Assembly on 4 October, the Secretary-General warned that prospects for reaching the MDGs on current trends are "decidedly mixed", with marked differences between and within regions. He also cautioned that insufficient progress was being made in meeting the broader objectives in the Declaration on issues such as human rights, democracy and good governance, conflict resolution, and the special needs of Africa.
"Progress must be made on a much broader front," he urged in the report. "Otherwise the ringing words of the Declaration will serve only as grim reminders of the human needs neglected and promises unmet."
The Secretary-General said that he was initiating a Millennium Campaign to make the commitments better known throughout the world and to ensure that they are the focus of global action. As part of this, the United Nations system will work with national governments, civil society, the international financial institutions and other partners to produce a series of regular national reports – complementing his annual global reports on the Millennium Declaration -- to measure and monitor progress towards achieving the MDGs on a country-by-country basis. "Our hope is that, in this age of democracy, annual reporting will force action," he said.
To help drive forward the new Campaign, Mr. Annan announced he had appointed Eveline Herfkens, former Netherlands Minister for Development Cooperation, to act as his Executive Coordinator for the Millennium Development Goals Campaign.
Ms. Herfkens will work to promote the MDGs by helping to spread awareness of them and to build new coalitions for action to achieve them in both developed and developing countries. "Ms. Herfkens has shown outstanding leadership over the past few years in helping bring the Millennium Development Goals to the forefront of the global development agenda, and I am confident she will now play a key role in galvanizing action from grassroots to governments in achieving them," he said.
In her new capacity, Ms. Herfkens will be working closely with Mark Malloch Brown, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Chair of the United Nations Development Group (UNDG), who, at the request of the Secretary-General, is leading the United Nations contribution to the MDG campaign. A Campaign Director is also being recruited and will be announced soon.
"The benchmark reports will generate new debates across and within nations while triggering political action and commitment to the greatest development challenges," said Mr. Malloch Brown. "They will provide much of the information that Eveline and all our partners are going to need to help drive forward action where it is most needed: at country level."
A dozen pilot country reports have already been completed. The aim is to have every developing and transition country produce a progress report by the end of 2004, with regular reports to follow thereafter. The pilot reports are already being successfully used to identify challenges and opportunities for real results on the ground from Bolivia to Cameroon, working with civil society, government officials and other partners. There are also signs of increasing interest from the private sector.
The overall campaign will be supported by research from a new initiative, the Millennium Project, that will mobilize networks of scholars from developing and developed countries to work with experts from across the United Nations system around the MDGs. This global effort is intended to stimulate fresh thinking on the policies countries will need to meet their goals, and on ways to finance and carry out those policies. In addition, the United Nations plans to mount another initiative, working with partners, to help developing countries improve their statistical capacity, so that they can both prepare and make good use of accurate reports.
Prospects for Reaching Goals Are Mixed
Endorsed by all members of the United Nations, the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) comprise a series of time-bound and measurable targets. They range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS to providing universal primary education, all by the deadline of 2015.
According to the Secretary-General's report, there has been some progress towards meeting the Goals, but in most places it is too slow. Net primary school enrolment has risen from 80 to 84 per cent over the past decade and the proportion of people getting inadequate nutrition fell from 20 per cent to 17 per cent over the same period, but both trends now need to be accelerated.
The proportion of people living on less than $1 a day -- the benchmark for extreme poverty -- has fallen from 29 per cent to 23 per cent in the last 10 years, although that masks significant regional differences. In the same period, East Asia has seen the proportion of people living on less than $1 per day drop from 28 per cent to 14 per cent. South Asia, where nearly half the world's very poor still live, has seen a more modest drop from 44 per cent to 37 per cent -- and in Africa the drop has only been from 48 per cent to 47 per cent.
A report prepared last year for the Secretary-General by a panel headed by former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo, and including former United States Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, estimated that meeting the MDGs would cost an additional $50 billion in annual aid. Earlier this year, at the Monterrey Conference on Financing for Development, the United States pledged to increase aid spending by 50 per cent, or $5 billion a year, and the European Union promised an additional $7 billion a year, as its first step toward meeting the target of 0.7 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) for development assistance.
Efforts to achieve the Goals have been further boosted by additional targets agreed and initiatives launched at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg last month. These include a target to halve the proportion of people without access to basic sanitation, to match the Millennium target of halving the proportion of those without access to clean water.
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