NEW YORK, United States, Wednesday April 3, 2013 – United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is urging Caribbean and other developing countries to keep alive the promise of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
In a message marking 1,000 days before the target date to achieve what he described as “a vital moment in history’s largest and most successful anti-poverty push,” Ban said while a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, “starting this week, we can march a thousand days forward into a new future”.
Many Caribbean countries have pledged to be part of the MDGs by 2015, agreeing to the eight goals set out in 2000 to cut global poverty and hunger by half, fight climate change and disease, tackle unsafe water and sanitation, expand education and open doors of opportunity for girls and women.
The UN Secretary General said that it was not the first time leaders had made lofty promises and that cynics expected the MDGs to be abandoned as too ambitious.
“Instead, the Goals have helped set global and national priorities, mobilize action, and achieve remarkable results.”
He said in the last 12 years, 600 million people have risen from extreme poverty and that a record number of children are in primary school with an equal number of girls and boys for the first time. Maternal and child mortality have dropped. Targeted investments in fighting malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis have saved millions of lives. Africa has cut AIDS-related deaths by one-third in just the past six years.
“There are also Goals and targets where we need far more progress. Too many women still die in childbirth, when we have the means to save them. Too many communities still lack basic sanitation, making unsafe water a deadly threat. In many parts of the world, rich and poor alike, inequalities are growing. Too many are still being left behind.”
But he said to accelerate action the international community should take four steps now.
He said they must first scale up success through strategic and targeted investments that have a multiplier effect, boosting results in all other areas.
“One million community health workers in Africa to serve hard-to-reach areas and keep mothers and children from dying of easily preventable or treatable conditions; scaled-up investments in sanitation; universal access to primary health services, including emergency obstetrical care; and adequate supplies to address HIV and malaria.
“Ensuring equal access by women and girls to education, health care, nutrition and economic opportunities is one of the most powerful drivers of progress across all the Goals.”
Ban also urged countries to focus on the poorest and most vulnerable countries, home to some 1.5 billion people.
“Often dogged by famine, conflict, poor governance and large-scale organized criminal violence, these countries are finding it most difficult to make progress despite their best efforts. Many have not yet achieved a single MDG. By investing in regions such as the Sahel, the Horn of Africa, and Central Asia, we can promote a virtuous circle of economic development, human security, and peace building.
“Third, we must keep financial promises. Budgets cannot be balanced on the backs of the poorest and most vulnerable. It is ethically unacceptable and it will help neither donor nor recipient.
“Despite austere times, many countries have been exemplary in honouring pledges. New donors among the emerging economies are also stepping forward. We should applaud these efforts and encourage more.”
The Secretary General said that the 1,000-day mark should be a call to action to a global movement from governments to the grassroots who have been so critical to success.
“We should also harness the full power of technology and social media – opportunities that were not available when the Goals were formulated at the turn of the century.
“The MDGs have proven that focused global development objectives can make a profound difference. They can mobilize, unite and inspire. They can spark innovation and change the world.”
He said success in the next 1,000 days will not only improve the lives of millions, it will add momentum as we plan for beyond 2015 and the challenges of sustainable development.
“There will be much unfinished business. But, as we look to the next generation of sustainable development goals, we can find deep inspiration knowing that the MDGs have shown that, with political will, ending extreme poverty is achievable and within our grasp.