25 January 2008

Africa: World Leaders Issue Call to Action on the Millennium Development Goals at the Annual Meeting 2008

press release

Davos — World leaders have issued a joint statement at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos vowing to make 2008 a turning point in the fight against poverty. The world is facing a “development emergency”, they said. “We pledge to work together to help the world get back on track to meet the MDGs.”

Leaders spearheading the call to action include Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General, United Nations, New York; Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, President of Nigeria; Gordon Brown, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom; H.M. Queen Rania Al Abdullah of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and Member of the Foundation Board of the World Economic Forum; William H. Gates III, Chairman, Microsoft Corporation, USA; Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum; Bono, Musician, DATA (DEBT, AIDS, TRADE, AFRICA), United Kingdom; and John T. Chambers, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Cisco, USA.

“We are here to say one thing loud and clear: Not on our watch!” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

“I speak to those who are most vulnerable to climate change and those who suffer the most grinding poverty. Let 2008 be the year of the bottom billion,” he said.

“We all agree that it is time to move from promise to performance …. Let us put our promises back on track for all the world’s children,” said Queen Rania.

“This is a moral compact, not a legal contract. To take a concrete step forward, we must take this from a moral compact to legally binding contracts,” Bono told a packed press conference. “Thanks to African leadership and debt cancellation, 29 million children are now in school,” he said.

“For us in Africa, the achievement of the MDGs is our sacred duty,” said Nigerian President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua. “One of the major challenges in Africa is the infrastructure gap that is one of the key enablers of the achievement of the MDGs. I welcome this initiative from the global community.”

“It is right that, here in Davos, we tell the truth that there is a development emergency and that we must summon everyone in a call to action to take measures to meet the MDGs by 2015,” said British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

“This [call to action] fits in with the idea of creative capitalism,” said Gates. “We can make more progress and it is important to be part of this endeavour,” he said. “I want to challenge the business community” to join the renewed efforts of governments and NGOs, said Chambers. “It’s the power of collaborative innovation that makes a difference,” he said.

The joint statement said:

“At the Millennium Summit in 2000 the international community – every world leader, every international body, almost every country – vowed to spare no effort to achieve the seven key Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Halfway to 2015 we have made some vital progress:

* 3 million more children survive every year

* 2 million people now receive AIDs treatment

* There are 41 million more children in school

* 2 million lives are saved every year by immunization

* Polio, leprosy and neonatal tetanus are on the verge of elimination

* African economies have been growing at 6% for the past three years, and are set to grow faster in the years ahead

This progress inspires us all to do more. We know we can make a difference. But we still face an enormous challenge – a development emergency:

* 72 million children are still not in school and many who are receive a very poor quality education.

* Half of the developing world lack basic sanitation. If current trends continue, the world is likely to miss the MDG sanitation target by almost 600 million people.

* Over half a million women still die each year from treatable and preventable complications of pregnancy and childbirth.

* Over 33 million people are living with HIV, and more than 1 million people die of malaria every year, including one child every 30 seconds.

* 980 million people still live on less than US$ 1 a day.

So without an extraordinary effort we will fail to achieve the MDGs. 2008 is a critical year. If we don’t begin to get back on track we will fail. Today in Davos we - the undersigned - commit to work to make 2008 a turning point in the fight against poverty. We are pleased to join the 19 countries and 21 private sector companies that are now signed up to the MDG Call to Action. And we pledge to work together to help the world get back on track to meet the MDGs.

We know we will only succeed if governments, the private sector, faith groups, civil society and NGOs work together.

And to catalyse, inspire and focus activity within this broad coalition - and to measure progress towards the 2015 pledges - today we agree that the world community should set some 2010 milestones towards our 2015 goals, including:

* 75 million more people lifted out of extreme poverty in Africa

* 25 million more children in school

* 4 million more children’s lives saved

* 35 million more births need to be attended by skilled health personnel between now and 2010

* 70 million more people given improved access to water

A series of international meetings throughout 2008 will identify what more we all need to do to meet these goals and agree concrete action plans:

* In the spring, the private sector will meet and announce new measures to help achieve the MDGs.

* In June, European leaders will set out what more the EU can do to accelerate progress towards the MDGs.

* In July, the Japan G8 Summit will focus on development and climate change.

* In September, at the UN - and for the first time ever - governments, businesses, civil society organizations, NGOs and faith groups will all convene to mark the halfway point to the MDGs, take stock of progress and agree additional steps the international community will take to accelerate action.

* And the Italians have agreed to take this forward into 2008 with their G8.

* The world is witnessing a development emergency, and we need a worldwide effort to get back on track to meet the MDGs. We commit to join and redouble our efforts.”

More than 2,500 participants from 88 countries are in Davos, Switzerland, including 27 heads of state or government, 113 cabinet ministers, along with religious leaders, media leaders and heads of non-governmental organizations. Around 60% of the participants are business leaders drawn principally from the Forum's members – 1,000 of the foremost companies from around the world and across all economic sectors.

The Co-Chairs of the Meeting are:

  • Tony Blair, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1997-2007); Member of the Foundation Board of the World Economic Forum; Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2008
  • James Dimon, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, JPMorgan Chase & Co., USA; Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2008
  • K.V. Kamath, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, ICICI Bank, India; Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2008
  • Henry Kissinger, Chairman, Kissinger Associates, USA; Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2008
  • Indra K. Nooyi, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, PepsiCo, USA; Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2008
  • David J. O’Reilly, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Chevron, USA; Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2008
  • Wang Jianzhou, Chairman and Chief Executive, China Mobile Communications Corporation, People's Republic of China; Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2008

All participants of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2008 can watch the responses to The Davos Question and are encouraged to reply directly to questions from the wider public in the first YouTube video booth set up for this purpose in the Congress Centre in Davos. Some of the best contributions will be used in key sessions in the programme.

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