UN Millennium Development Goals: Are they being reached?
The UN leader urges world leaders attending a summit to rededicate themselves to reaching the Millennium Development Goals. Despite some successes on poverty and school enrollment, many challenges remain.
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Some countries and international institutions have already announced their plans and contributions for reaching the development targets. The World Bank on Tuesday announced $750 million in new aid toward reaching the education goal, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy said his country would increase by 20 percent its contribution to the Global Fund to fight HIV-AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.Skip to next paragraph
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In addition, Mr. Sarkozy and Spanish President José Luis Zapatero called for a global tax on financial transactions to create a fund for development financing. That proposal was especially well-received by some nongovernmental aid organizations.
“With almost a billion people hungry, and nearly a thousand women dying in childbirth every day, hard cash is needed to meet [this] development goal and save lives,” says Emma Seery, a spokeswoman for Oxfam. “A tiny tax on the financial sector could raise hundreds of billions annually to fight poverty and climate change that are blighting the poorest countries.”
Focus on children
Some development experts say experience and research support the targeting of child health and development goals as the surest and most effective option for further reducing poverty levels. Reflecting that, Ban and others on Wednesday will propose a new strategy for meeting the goals related to children.
“The [goals] related to children are still the farthest behind, but Ban is going to make the point that if we can charge up those goals we can make greater progress on all as a whole,” says Susan Meyers, executive director in New York of the UN Foundation, an organization founded by Ted Turner to work with the UN on development and peace issues. A new “global strategy on women and children” will establish new financing, encourage policy changes on the ground, and propose “innovative ways to deliver services better,” she says.
Mr. Obama is expected to underscore in particular the roles that economic development at the local level and individual entrepreneurship can play in reducing poverty, in particular among women.
Indeed, some development experts point out that if substantial progress has been made in the goal of halving extreme poverty, it is largely thanks to very strong economic growth in a few large countries such as China and India. The “glass-half-empty” side of that observation is that equivalent growth in many smaller poor countries, particularly in Africa, won’t be easily achieved.