As the United Nations gears up to fast track progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Secretary-General BAN Ki-moon and General Assembly President Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann are convening on Thursday, 25 September, a High-level Event on the MDGs at Headquarters in New York.
The High-level Event will bring together n early 100 Heads of State or Government, UN officials, representatives of the private sector and civil society partners to discuss specific ways to intensify efforts towards achieving the eight set Goals in all countries by 2015.
It will be the first summit-level gathering on the MDGs since 2000, when world leaders committed to the goals laid out in the Millennium Declaration (A/RES/55/2). Among other things, the goals aim to slash extreme poverty and hunger by half; halving child mortality; halving the proportion of the world population suffering from hunger; achieving universal primary schooling for all children; and eliminating gender disparities in primary and secondary education.
Past the halfway point towards the 2015 deadline, experts say despite significant progress, urgent and increased efforts are needed by all partners in order to meet the goals. Many countries – especially in sub-Saharan Africa – are lagging behind.
“The September High-level Event will mark a turning point in the work to reach the Millennium Development Goals,” said Secretary-General BAN, who has made the issue a top priority. To all stakeholders, he said, “I will ask you to be bold and specific. I will ask you to say what you will do, and how you will do it to help us get on track for success by 2015” (full statement).
Thursday’s event serves as a forum for the world leaders to review progress, identify gaps, and commit to concrete efforts, resources and mechanisms, as well as translate existing commitments into action on the ground to ensure that all countries achieve the goals.
The meeting will also send a strong message to delegates to the Follow-up-International Conference on Financing for Development , known as the Doha Review Conference, to be held in Doha, Qatar, from 29 November to 2 December 2008. The Doha meeting to review the implementation of the Monterrey Consensus, was mandated by the General Assembly in resolution 62/187 (A/RES/62/187) of 19 December 2007.
“I expect the meeting will also send a strong message that governments are ready to rise to the financing for development challenge,” Mr. BAN said.
The event is part of several major programmes taking place during the 63rd General Assembly debate. It comes on the heels of another high-level event on Africa’s development needs held on 22 September.
According to the programme for the meeting, in the General Assembly Hall, there will be an o pening Plenary Session to be addressed by the Secretary-General, the General Assembly President and invited guests. This will be followed by parallel roundtables on Poverty and Hunger, Education and Health, and Environmental Sustainability, as well as a closing press conference by Messers Jakaya Kikwete, President of Tanzania, Gordon Brown, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Bill Gates, Chairman of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation .
New MDG Report
On 11 September, at a Headquarters press conference, the Secretary-General launched the 2008 MDG Report, one of the key inputs for the High-Level event. The report finds that there has been strong and sustained progress in reducing extreme poverty. However, while most of this decline occurred in East Asia, particularly China, other regions had much smaller decreases in the poverty rate and only modest falls in the number of poor.
Improved estimates of poverty from the World Bank confirmed that between 1990 and 2005, the number of people living in extreme poverty fell by over 400 million, and that the 1990 global poverty rate is likely to fall by the targeted 50 per cent by 2015. The estimates also reveals that the number of poor in the developing world is larger than previously estimated, at 1.4 billion people.
“We face nothing less than a development emergency,” Mr. BAN said. “Halfway to the target date of 2015, it is clear that we are not on track to meet the Goals, especially in Africa. And new global challenges – an economic slowdown, high food and fuel prices, and climate change – threaten to reverse the progress we have made.”
UN family galvanize efforts
The 2008 report was simultaneously launched by UN Information Centres earlier this month as the UN family work with partners to galvanize efforts to bring up to speed programmes to achieve the goals.
In Nairobi, senior UN officials briefed more than 18 TV and print reporters on the Report and the High Level event. Present at the Nairobi event were the Director-General of UNON and Executive Director of UN Habitat, Anna Tibaijuka; Dr. David Okello, WHO Representative in Kenya, Jan Vandemoortele of UNICEF, New York, and the new UNDP Resident Representative, United Nations Humanitarian and Resident Coordinator for Kenya, Mr. Aeneas Chuma.
In South Africa, UNIC Pretoria hosted a successful joint launch for the 2008 MDG Report and the UNCTAD Africa Report 2008 in Johannesburg on Friday, 12th September. The event provided UNIC Pretoria with an opportunity to engage with partners in various sectors.
The launch, chaired by the UNIC Officer-in-Charge, Masimba Tafirenyika, was attended by over 50 participants, including representatives of the national and international print and broadcasting media.
The salient points of the MDG report were highlighted by the acting Resident Coordinator, and UNFPA Representative, in South Africa, George Nsiah, who was assisted by Mr. Udo Etukudo, Macroeconomics Specialist at the UNDP Regional Office. The UNCTAD component of the launch was led by one of the authors of the report, Dr Sam Gayi.
In addition to a diverse range of questions posed to the panellists during the discussion time, the acting Resident Coordinator fielded four interviews with the journalists, including a live broadcast for the South African Broadcasting Corporation.
On Tuesday, 23 September, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean ( ECLAC ) announced it has transformed its web site on the MDGs to enhance dissemination of information and progress monitoring. The new site in Spanish and English, can also be accessed from the ECLAC home page .
It provides a regional perspective on the MDGs and contains updated information on work being carried out by ECLAC and other United Nations agencies in the different areas related to the MDGs and provides access to several publications on MDG related issues, as well as presents regional and country progress reports on the achievement of these goals in Latin America and the Caribbean.
As part of this year's special focus on the MDGs, the Department of Public Information last month launched at Headquarters a redesigned MDG web site in all six official languages.