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Millennium Development Goals seek end to poverty, hunger

Conflict, crisis and drama top UN talks bill
United Nations (AFP) Sept 17, 2010 - The world's conflicts, crises and diplomatic dramas -- from stumbling efforts to cut poverty to Iran's nuclear drive and Pakistan's flood disaster -- will be debated and disputed by global leaders from Monday at the annual UN summit. Presidents Barack Obama of the United States and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran and China's Premier Wen Jiabao will be among about 140 heads of state and government jostling for the limelight at a Millennium Development Goals (MDG) summit and then the UN General Assembly. World leaders will have a hard time convincing doubtful aid agencies that they are serious about meeting the eight big development goals that were set at the Millennium summit in 2000 with a target date of 2015. They will try at a review summit from Monday to Wednesday.

Targets such as cutting abject poverty by half, child under-five mortality by two thirds, halting the spread of AIDS and empowering women are all looking too ambitious, according to experts. But none of the leaders is yet admitting defeat publicly. "I know there is skepticism but this MDG is a promise, a blueprint, by the world leaders to lift billions of people out of poverty. This must be met and delivered," UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told AFP in an interview ahead of the summit. "Now how can we overcome this skepticism and actual difficulty on the ground? With the right mix of political leadership combined with resources, international aid. Then I think we can still achieve these goals," he declared. Ban estimates that more than 125 billion dollars will be needed in the "final sprint" to 2015 as well as enormous political commitment. But a US official said: "This is not a time nor a venue when you will be hearing any significant new resource commitments from us nor others."

And many aid groups are scathing at what they see as a lack of all those requirements. "World leaders are heading toward an extraordinary collective failure unless they deliver an urgent rescue package to get the MDGs back on track, ensuring that nobody goes to be hungry and even the poorest can take their children to a doctor when they are sick," said Oxfam spokeswoman Emma Seery. The new UN General Assembly starts on Thursday with Obama, Wen and other leaders airing their criticisms and ideas on the Afghanistan war, Middle East peace, climate change, key independence votes in two Sudanese regions, terrorism, Iraq and host of other topics. During the week, the UN secretary general will host a top level meeting on disarmament and foreign ministers from Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States will discuss Iran's refusal to halt uranium enrichment on Tuesday. No one should expect moves toward a fifth round of sanctions yet, a US official said.

NATO and Russian foreign ministers will also meet and scores of bilateral meetings will be held in New York hotels and conference rooms. Sudan will be a recurring theme, with some UN ambassadors saying it will be the most important geostrategic topic for the rest of the year as the country prepares for two referenda in on whether southern Sudan and another smaller region break away from the rest of the African giant. Preparations for the votes are way behind schedule and in a sign that the international community expects action, Obama will be at a special meeting on Sudan on Thursday along with two Sudanese vice presidents and many African leaders. "The Sudan dossier will be one of the top priorities. That is why I am convening the high level meeting on Sudan," said Ban Ki-moon.
by Staff Writers
United Nations (AFP) Sept 19, 2010
The eight Millennium Development Goals set by world leaders in 2000 with a target date of 2015:


-- Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than one dollar a day

The UN says the global economic crisis has slowed progress but the goal is still possible.

-- Full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people

Another target badly hit by the crisis. Employment around the world has fallen and more workers are now "living in extreme poverty," according to the UN.

-- Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger

This has been hit by the global economic and food crises of recent years. One in four children in the developing world are still underweight.


-- By 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling

Hopes are fading that this can be achieved, though progress has been made. Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia are home to the vast majority of children out of school.


-- Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education at all levels by 2015

Education remains elusive for girls in some regions. Poverty is a major barrier to education, especially among older girls. In nearly every developing region, men outnumber women in paid employment with women relegated to more vulnerable jobs. Top level jobs still go overwhelmingly to men.


-- Reduce by two thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-five mortality rate

Child deaths are falling, but not quickly enough to reach the target. Revitalizing efforts against pneumonia and diarrhoea, while bolstering nutrition, could save millions of children.


-- Reduce by three quarters the maternal mortality ratio

The lack of basic health skills is the main problem. Giving birth is especially risky in Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, where most women deliver without skilled care.

-- Achieve universal access to reproductive health

More women are receiving antenatal care but striking inequalities in care during pregnancy remain. The UN says progress has stalled in reducing the number of teenage pregnancies "putting more young mothers at risk" and in increasing the use of contraception.


-- To halt and reverse the the spread of HIV/AIDS by 2015

The spread of HIV appears to have stabilized in most regions, and more people are surviving longer. Many young people still lack the knowledge to protect themselves against HIV though.

-- Achieve, by 2010, universal access to treatment for HIV/AIDS

The rate of new HIV infections still outstrip the expansion of treatment but expanded treatment for HIV-positive women safeguards their newborns

-- Halt by 2015 and begin to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases

Simple weapons such as soaring production of insecticide-treated mosquito nets has helped in the fight against malaria and more effective antimalarial drugs are now available. The UN says the number of malaria deaths is falling but more finance is needed.

Progress on tuberculosis, the second leading killer after HIV, inches forward. Tuberculosis prevalence is falling in most regions


-- More use of sustainable development in country policies and reverse the loss of environmental resources

The rate of deforestation shows signs of decreasing, but is still alarmingly high, says the UN. A decisive response to climate change is urgently needed.

-- Reduce biodiversity loss, achieving, by 2010, a significant reduction in the rate of loss

The 2010 target for biodiversity conservation was missed, with potentially grave consequences, according to UN experts.

Key habitats for threatened species are not being adequately protected and the number of species facing extinction is growing by the day. Overexploitation of fisheries has stabilized, but stocks are still threatened.

-- Halve, by 2015, the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation

The world is on track to meet the drinking water target, but accelerated efforts are needed to bring drinking water to rural households.

With half the population of developing regions without sanitation, the 2015 target appears to be out of reach.

-- By 2020, to have achieved a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers

Slum improvements are failing to keep pace with the growing ranks of the urban poor. Slum prevalence remains high in sub-Saharan Africa and increases in countries affected by conflict.


-- Meet the needs of least developed countries, landlocked countries and small island developing states

Aid continues to rise despite the financial crisis, but Africa is "short-changed", according to the UN. Only five donor countries have reached the UN target for official aid.

-- Develop an open, rule-based, predictable, non-discriminatory trading and financial system

-- A comprehensive deal on the debt of the developing world

Debt burdens are easing and are well below historical levels.

-- With pharmaceutical companies, provide access to affordable essential drugs in developing countries

-- With the private sector, widen the availability of new technology

Demand grows for information and communications technology but access to the World Wide Web is still closed to the majority of the world's people.

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