Still Moving Forward: Millennium Development GoalsJune 25, 2010
General Assembly hearings were held at the United Nations headquarters in New York on June 14 and 15 to provide formal input, by NGOs, civil society, and the private sector, with U.N. member states’ participation, on the upcoming Millennium Development Goals summit scheduled for September 20–22, 2010.
In 2000, then-Secretary General Kofi Annan led the effort by world leaders to achieve the following goals by 2015:
- Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
- Achieve universal primary education
- Promote gender equality and empower women
- Reduce child mortality
- Improve maternal health
- Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
- Ensure environmental sustainability
- Develop a global partnership for development
Discussion at the first meeting on June 14 centered on two issues: a need to shift resources from armed conflict to development and the current global economic crisis. According to Gill Greer of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, $1.46 trillion is spent annually on arms.
The economic crisis has led to an increase in hunger. Farah Kabir, country director of Action Aid, Bangladesh, reports that “the number of hungry people in the world is rapidly increasing to more than 1 billion or 1/6 of humanity. If this continues, it will rise to 1.5 billion by 2015.” A combination of political will at the highest level and local action works best to fight hunger. In Brazil, for example, President Lula launched Fome Zero, a program that focuses on food banks, community kitchens, and school meals prepared with locally produced food and village markets.
Empowered women often drive the overall achievement of goals. “There is a correlation between a higher level of women in business and the rise of a country’s GDP,” noted Marie Gad of Business Europe. But Neha Sood, of India’s Youth Coalition, suggested that “maternal health and specifically reproductive rights are the least likely to be achieved by 2015. Today, 16 million adolescent girls give birth annually worldwide. Yet an abstinence-only policy won’t work.” If women are to be empowered, they must have control of their reproductive lives.
Davia Winjobioi, of the Global Call to Action, Nigeria, gave an impassioned plea for sound government. “In some countries like Nigeria, resources are being wasted and leaking into private pockets. Governments should be transparent and open their budgets for accountability.” Good governance allows the people to reap the benefits of a country’s oil resources.
Corruption is a global issue that has contributed to the current economic crisis. As Denis Godlevsky, from the International Preparedness Coalition, noted, “Nigeria is not the only country that experiences corruption.”
Marie Gad, of Business Europe, agreed that governments “reduce political and commercial risk by fighting corruption. We need sustainable business development and multilateral trade negotiations.”
In the end, peace is essential to reaching the Millennium Development Goals. With the political will to shift resources from arms to development and fight corruption, the 2015 target can be met.
AAUW Guest Blogger: Judy Polizzotti, co-president , AAUW Bridgeport Area (CT) Branch