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Updated: September 20, 2010 22:04 IST

Global spotlight on helping poor

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U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses a summit on the Millennium Development Goals at UN headquarters on Monday.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses a summit on the Millennium Development Goals at UN headquarters on Monday.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened a summit on Monday with a plea to the assembled Presidents, Prime Ministers and kings to use their power to meet U.N. goals to help the world's poorest by 2015.

Ten years after world leaders set the most ambitious goals ever to tackle global poverty, they gathered again to spur action to meet the deadline which the U.N. says will be difficult, if not impossible, in some cases.

General Assembly President Joseph Deiss opened the summit saying: “We must achieve the Millennium Development Goals. We want to achieve them. And we can achieve them.”

For centuries, the plight of the world's poor had been ignored but with the turn of the new millennium, leaders pledged to begin tackling poverty, disease, ignorance and inequality. They vowed to reduce extreme poverty by half, ensure that every child has a primary school education, reverse the HIV/AIDS pandemic, reduce maternal mortality by three-quarters and child mortality by two-thirds. Goals called for cutting by half the number of people without access to clean water and basic sanitation all by 2015. They also set goals to promote equality for women, protect the environment,increase development aid, and open the global trading and financial system.

“We brought new urgency to an age-old mission,” Mr. Ban said. “And now, we have real results. New thinking and path-breaking public-private partnerships. Dramatic increases in school enrolment. Expanded access to clean water. Better control of disease. The spread of technology from mobile to green.”

But Mr. Ban calls the advances “fragile” and declared “the clock is ticking, with much more to do.” He urged the leaders to deliver the needed resources “above all by exercising political leadership.” More than 140 world leaders were expected at the summit. The three-day summit on the goals, known as the MDGs, will be followed by the annual ministerial meeting of the General Assembly .

In advance of this week's summit, diplomats from the 192 U.N. member states agreed on the document to be adopted by the leaders which spells out specific actions to accelerate implementation of each of the eight Millennium Development Goals, known as the MDGs, in the next five years. “We are convinced that the Millennium Development Goals can be achieved, including in the poorest countries, with renewed commitment, effective implementation, and intensified collective action by all member states and other relevant stakeholders at both domestic and international levels.”

Many recent reports show that the world's poorest countries, especially in sub—Saharan Africa, have made little progress in eradicating poverty. And in Africa, Asia and Latin America there also has been a lack of progress in reducing mother and child deaths, providing clean water and sanitation.

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