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NZ's contribution to global fight against poverty

9 September 2005

NZ's contribution to global fight against poverty

On the eve of the United Nations 60th Anniversary Summit, Aid Minister Marian Hobbs has launched a report on New Zealand's contribution to helping developing countries reach targets set out in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

"New Zealand is committed to improving the lives of the millions of people who exist in poverty," Marian Hobbs said. "The report, 'New Zealand’s Contribution to the Global Partnership for Development’ assesses our progress five years into the project.

"The goals and associated targets, agreed at the Millennium Summit in 2000 cover areas such as education, health, gender and the environment. They are a bold acknowledgement that the problems faced by the developing world are challenges for us all.

"Through our international aid and development agency, NZAID, and other departments, New Zealand is giving more than $380 million in aid to developing countries this year, (plus public donations which totalled approximately $49 million in 2002/03). It is very important that we know this funding is working – the MDGs help provide this framework.

"New Zealand aid is achieving positive results, especially in our region of focus – the Pacific. Under MDG 2, access to primary education for all children, New Zealand is making a difference. For instance, we are contributing to the Solomon Island Government's efforts to remove school fees, so that all children in the Solomon Islands can have a basic education to Year 9 level. School fees are a major barrier to primary education, especially for girls.

"As the report details, aid alone will not make the MDGs a reality. A wide range of government initiatives and policy choices influence development prospects of other countries. A fairer trade system, for instance, is something that New Zealand advocates strongly as it would make an enormous contribution to eliminating poverty in developing countries.

"The road ahead is not easy and global progress towards the MDGs is far from impressive. Some regions and countries are on track, but others are falling behind and the Asian tsunami has put further pressure on some countries.

"We are doing our bit and I think there are some lessons to be learned in the approach New Zealand takes -- to focus on the quality rather than the quantity of our assistance. It is easy to throw money at these issues. The much more difficult challenge is to work in a way that has lasting impact and really makes a difference.

"We will be working hard in New York to make the Summit a success, with an outcome statement that puts the development, security and rights agenda squarely at the forefront of international efforts to solve the pressing problems of our generation. It will not be easy.

"We must make progress on aid, trade, and debt, and key proposals such as the Peace Building Commission and reforming the Human Rights machinery. Above all, however, world leaders must reaffirm the vital importance of an effective multilateral system, with a strong and effective United Nations at its core. For the developing world, and for small states like New Zealand, our secure and prosperous future depends on it. Anything less will be a crucial opportunity foregone."

The report is available at: www.nzaid.govt.nz/events.html

ENDS

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