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Academia's Role In Economic Development Heralded

Ban Ki-moon heralds role of academia in promoting economic development

Academic and research institutions play a vital role in promoting development, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today as he kicked off the inaugural symposium of the joint Africa Series initiative of the United Nations University (UNU) and Cornell University.

In a message delivered on his behalf to the symposium, held at UN Headquarters in New York, Mr. Ban said he was greatly encouraged by the Africa Series initiative and its potential to produce "new and innovative ideas" for how the UN and the wider human race can tackle the problems of development.

"Scholars have demonstrated the vital importance of knowledge in understanding the complexities inherent in combating extreme poverty and in charting out a sustainable path for economic development," he said in the message. "Academic and research institutions also make important contributions to capacity-building."

Today's symposium focuses on the African food system and its interactions with health and nutrition, and future symposiums are slated to examine governance, development and security crises and the socio-economic impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

Mr. Ban noted that the symposium was taking place at the midpoint in the race to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the series of ambitious anti-poverty targets which world leaders have committed to try to attain by 2015.

"Many African countries have made good progress towards the Goals. But overall the continent is not on track," he said, calling for greater advances on extreme poverty, maternal mortality, gender equality and fighting AIDS in particular.


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