“We Can End
“We can end poverty”: this was the heartening message of the United Nations Summit on the Millennium Development Goals, which took place from 20-22 September 2010 in New York. The summit concluded with the announcement of a Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health.
The outcome document of the three-day Summit – Keeping the Promise: United to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals – reaffirms world leaders’ commitment to the MDGs and sets out a concrete action agenda for achieving the Goals by 2015. Based on examples of success and lessons learned over the last ten years, the document spells out specific steps to be taken by all stakeholders to accelerate progress on each of the eight Goals. It also affirms that, despite setbacks due to the economic and financial crises, remarkable progress has been made on fighting poverty, increasing school enrolment and improving health in many countries, and the Goals remain achievable.
One of the key outcomes of the Summit was the launch of the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health, with pledges of more than $40 billion over the next five years. It has been calculated that these pledges have the potential of saving the lives of more than 16 million women and children, preventing 33 million unwanted pregnancies, protecting 120 million children from pneumonia and 88 million children from stunting, advancing the control of deadly diseases such as malaria and HIV/AIDS, and ensuring access for women and children to quality facilities and skilled health workers.
“We know what works to save women’s and children’s lives, and we know that women and children are critical to all of the MDGs,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said. “Today we are witnessing the kind of leadership we have long needed.”
Of the eight key development targets set a decade ago, cutting deaths of women during pregnancy and childbirth and those of children younger than five have seen the least progress.
In addition, a number of other significant commitments on each of the eight Goals were made by Governments, international organizations and partners as well as by business representatives at the Private Sector Forum organized by the UN Global Compact.
Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan promised five billion dollars over five years to help meet the UN's health goals and 3.5 billion dollars for attempts to meet the target of establishing universal primary education. British deputy prime minister Nick Clegg vowed that his country's aid would reach 0.7 percent of gross national income by 2013. He called on other countries to follow suit.
Obama unveiled a new "big hearted" but "hard headed" US aid policy to push the poorest countries toward prosperity. Obama said the United States would now concentrate on countries that invest in their future and boost democracy, good governance and free trade.
Ban Ki-moon observed that significant progress was being made towards achieving the MDGs, noting a “catalogue of progress: in reducing poverty, expanding primary education, fighting killer diseases, and ensuring clean water”, but he also warned that “the clock is ticking, with much more to do”. He called on governments to live up to the vision, even in hard financial times. "Being true means supporting the vulnerable despite the economic crisis. We should not balance budgets on the backs of the poor. We must not draw back from official development assistance – a lifeline of billions, for billions," he said.