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Millennium development goals reachable with reform

Millennium development goals reachable with reform, increased aid - UN report

Goals set by the United Nations Millennium Summit to lift millions of people out of poverty by 2015 can only be achieved if poor countries pursue wide-ranging reforms and wealthy nations respond with improved trade terms and increased aid, according to the UN Development Fund (UNDP) annual flagship report released today.

The "Human Development Report 2003" illustrates how countries fared during the 1990s, a decade of impressive economic growth for some but one of deepening poverty for many. Specifically it focuses on the progress towards the UN Millennium Development Goals, set by the 2000 Summit of halving the number of those hungry by 2015.

"The world is on track to halve income poverty by 2015, driven by the tremendous economic growth of China and India, but at the same time the 1990s was a decade of human development crisis," UNDP Economist and co-Author of the report David Stewart, said during a press briefing at the UN Headquarters in New York.

He said, "Fifty-four countries ended the decade poorer than they began it and in 21 the human development index actually went backwards which is unprecedented, it hasn't happened in previous decades. The implication for this on the goals is that sub-Sahara Africa, for example, is not going to achieve the goal for reducing under five mortality for a 150 years."

The Report also introduces a new "compact" through which countries can work to achieve the Millennium Goals.

"The poor countries on one side need to institute quality reforms, fight corruption and most importantly put the Millennium goals at the centre of their development strategy. On the other side of the coin, the richer countries really have to fulfil the commitments they made to these goals," Mr. Stewart said. "Aid needs to be approximately doubled for these goals to be met, yet aid to the poorest countries in the last decade has fallen by about a third."

Launching the Report in Dublin, Ireland, UNDP Executive Administrator Mark Malloch Brown said the Compact is a collective responsibility which "can unite us all, rich and poor, North and South, developed and developing not in rhetoric, but at an extremely practical level, where we can hold each other to account for shared goals and, together, change the world."

He was joined by Bertie Ahern, the Prime Minister of Ireland, Jeffrey Sachs, economist and guest editor of the report, Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, the report's principal author and Irish musician Bono, who has campaigned for debt relief for the poorest countries.

The Dublin event precedes the launch of the report at the African Union Summit in Mozambique's capital Maputo this Thursday. "Through this joint launch, in Dublin and Maputo, we want to dramatize the partnership between North and South which is required if we are to achieve these goals by 2015," Mr. Malloch Brown said.

At the 2000 Millennium Summit, Mr. Ahern pledged to double his country's development assistance to 0.7 per cent of GDP by 2007. Mozambique, a main beneficiary of Irish aid, is to receive 28 million euros this year under a bilateral assistance programme that began in 1996. The Irish and Mozambican governments have targeted the assistance towards projects to help progress towards the MDGs, focusing on education, farming, and reversing the HIV/AIDS epidemic.


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