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Text of Statement by Rt. Hon. Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’, at the UN General Assembly High-Level Event on the Millennium Development Goals, 25 September 2008
25 September 2008 / 12:00

Statement by Rt. Hon. Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’,
Prime Minister of Nepal,
at the UN General Assembly High-Level Event on the Millennium Development Goals
ROUND TABLE: POVERTY AND HUNGER
New York, 25 September 2008
 
Distinguished Co-Chairs,
Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates,
1.                In 2000, the world leaders adopted goals and targets, Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), as the collective commitment of the international community to take on poverty, hunger, diseases and many of the development challenges confronting the world.
2.                Despite such solemn pledge, it is ironic that more than a billion people, the so-called “bottom billion”, mostly in developing countries, are still trapped in conditions of grinding poverty with an income of less than a dollar a day. This is unbecoming of the contemporary human civilization, which has so much of affluence and prosperity at its disposal.
Mr. Chairman,
3.                Nepal has a mixed result on the achievement of the MDGs. We are on track of achieving goals related to halving the poverty by 2015, achieving universal primary education, reducing under-five child mortality, and providing safe drinking water.
4.                But we have numerous challenges to address. The biggest challenge is effectively addressing mortality among new borns and reducing hunger among the children under five. We have to address the problem of inequality and exclusion, which is denying the distribution of fruits of development to the people, who often live in the periphery of the state and the economy. The current government is therefore committed to put the people, who have been traditionally marginalized, at the centre of its development strategy and initiate collective interventions at various levels.
Mr. Chairman,
5.                We feel that MDGs on their own cannot be achieved by all and more specifically by the LDCs. We can meet them only with global political support, stronger partnerships and coordinated efforts of all. Our achievements, including in reducing poverty, are likely to be thwarted by the rising food and oil prices and threats of climate change. We need short term relief and long term measures to deal with them in a comprehensive manner.
6.                We welcome the initiative of the Secretary General for establishing a Task Force under his leadership on the global food crisis. Similarly, we also welcome the recommendations of the World Food Summit held in Rome earlier this year. We hope some concrete action will be taken under these initiatives. Unless we invest systematically in the agriculture sector and develop it, the achievement of the MDGs will neither be possible nor sustainable.
7.                It is alarming that the increasing use of bio-fuels has shifted the focus from crops for food to that for fuel and has triggered the rise in food prices. The artificial barriers such as agricultural subsidies are causing the food prices to be distorted globally. This must be corrected.
Mr. Chairman,
8.                The commitment to “making poverty history” will sound empty without a genuine support and cooperation from the developed countries.
9.                The situation we are facing demands visionary and strategic choice to be made globally. It is about time that this Assembly rose up to its challenge and adopted that strategic choice. After all, investment in development in the poorer countries is an investment in the peace and stability of the world. Our choice should be guided by this imperative. I think it is yet another opportunity for this Assembly to stand up to the challenge of poverty and hunger.
10.             On behalf of the people and the Government of Nepal, I would like to pledge to work together in a spirit of partnership. In the same vein, I would like to urge our development partners for enhanced level of targeted cooperation for sustained socioeconomic development, for the reduction of poverty and for addressing all development challenges. Working together, we can effectively deal with the current challenges. We have to employ all our collective energy to attain our collective objectives, as only a short time is available for us to meet the MDGs.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman.