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Statement by H. E. Mr. Madhu Raman Acharya, Permanent Representative of Nepal to the United Nations, at the Thematic Debate of the General Assembly on the Millennium Development Goals on the theme "Recognizing the achievements, addressing the challenges and getting back on track to achieve the MDGs by 2015"
New York, 3 April 2008
The President of the General Assembly deserves appreciation for convening this timely debate on the progress towards the achievement of the MDGs.
In the Millennium Declaration and subsequent conferences, countries on either side of the development agenda made certain commitments. The developing countries would take the ownership of their own development, provide good governance, and improve their economic and social sector reform and achieve certain indicators of development. The developed partners would provide the necessary resources and enabling environment including freer access to their markets, debt relief, capacity building, technology transfer and sustained flow of investment.
Since these commitments were made, the developing countries have made great strides, especially in poverty reduction and many other MDGs. But these achievements have been restricted to some regions and countries. The achievement of the MDGs in the world’s poorest countries, where the so-called “bottom billion” is mostly concentrated, hangs precariously on the sustained flow of resources and enabling environment that was committed in these compacts.
Besides, the achievement of MDGs is threatened by the spread of HIV/AIDS, humanitarian crises, conflicts and new challenges of climate change. The world’s poor and hungry people are being further marginalized by the increasing oil and food prices. Continuing deadlock in the negotiations of the Doha Development Agenda and the lack of an environment of sustained flow of migrant workers from the developing to the developed world continues to stymie the opportunities that the market could offer to boost their efforts in achieving the MDGs.
When we adopted the MDGs and the Monterrey Consensus, we did not take into account the threat of climate change, especially the urgent need for adaptation in the most vulnerable countries. How that can be done without diverting the resources committed to their development should be considered seriously in the forthcoming review of the Monterrey Consensus.
Whereas it is important that the Paris Declaration on aid effectiveness should be implemented for achieving better results, it cannot substitute sustained flow of additional resources to the developing countries. It has become clear that without the sincere fulfillment of the commitments made by the developed countries, the MDGs cannot be fully attained in the remaining half.
Poverty reduction is central to all MDGs. We cannot possibly think of achieving other goals without reducing poverty. Failure to poverty reduction would mean that millions of people will continue to languish in crippling poverty and hunger on less than a dollar a day even after 2015. That is unacceptable in a world which has so much resource at its disposal and which spends so much on armaments and luxury.
The panelists have clearly pointed out what works for poverty reduction and other MDGs. Today, it is clear that growth alone cannot guarantee that we will achieve the MDGs. Despite a sound economic growth in the last six years, many African countries are still far away from achieving their MDG targets. The growth must be accompanied by targeted investment, such as in agriculture and social sector.
It is important to mention here that achievement of all the internationally agreed development goals, especially the compacts on the countries with special situations, is crucial to meeting the MDGs. For example, this year we are reviewing the Almaty Program of Action for the landlocked developing countries. Similarly, we reviewed of the Brussels Program of Action for the LDCs last year. The recommendations of these reviews should be implemented with all the seriousness they deserve.
Nepal has achieved mixed progress in the MDGs. Despite the last 12 years of internal conflict, there is substantive progress in poverty reduction. Nepal's poverty line reduced from 42 percent in 1996 to 31 percent in 2004. The current interim development plan (2008-2010) aims at reducing poverty to below 24%. Thus, we are on track to achieve the goal of halving poverty by 2015.
Recent reports have shown that we have made great strides in achieving universal primary enrollment, with 84% children going to schools, compared to 64% in 1990. We may achieve this target as well. There is also good progress in health-related MDGs. The under-five child mortality rate and maternal mortality ratio have been reduced substantially. But, we have yet to make substantive progress in combating HIV/AIDS.
Though Nepal has been able to maintain macro-economic stability, both the population growth rate and GDP growth rate have hovered around 2 percent, straining our efforts in achieving the MDGs. Nepal’s interim plan (2008-2010) aims at reducing poverty and achieving 5.5% annual economic growth. It also seeks to integrate the MDGs into the national development strategy. But we are constrained by the huge post-conflict rehabilitation and reconstruction needs. We are confident that our development partners will continue to support us in these endeavors.
We are hoping that the ongoing political transformation process, including the forthcoming elections to the constituent assembly on the 10th of April, will pave the way forward for further accelerating our efforts in achieving the MDGs, while crating an environment for long-term peace, development and stability in the country.
In conclusion, the success of MDGs will be judged by their implementation. At this crucial half way, we have an opportunity for a soul-searching and retrospection to find ways for better implementation in the remaining half.
We should not engage in the business of reinventing the wheel or re-stating the obvious. We need strategy for better implementation of our commitments and perhaps a mechanism for monitoring the commitments made by both sides. We must not miss the opportunity to fine tune our commitments with a view to achieving the full implementation of the MDGs by 2015. That is how partnership- global partnership for development- counts.
Nepal looks forward to actively participating in the mid-term review of the MDGs, including in the high-level event on 25 September this year.
I thank you Mr. President!