Africa: Ban Urges Greater Action in Africa to Meeting Anti-Poverty, Sustainability Goals

Now is the time for African countries, development partners and the international community to boost action towards achieving the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and to shape a shared vision a universal sustainable development agenda, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declared today.

"The MDGs constitute the most effective anti-poverty campaign in history. We have seen remarkable advances since the Goals were adopted in 2000," Mr. Ban said in Seoul, Republic of Korea (ROK), addressing the diplomatic corps on the topic of acceleration action towards the Goals.

He noted that human development in Africa has been accompanied by economic growth across the continent making it the world's second fastest growing region.

Mr. Ban added, however, that poverty rates remain extremely high with rising inequalities and hunger as an "unacceptable obstacle" to human dignity.

The UN chief also said that he was "deeply disturbed" by persistent food shortages and nutrient deficiencies especially in children and pregnant women. He noted the threats climate change and natural disasters have on local communities, increasing risks to fisheries, livestock, agriculture and tourism.

"The problems we face are interdependent. Poverty, hunger, insecurity, climate change, environmental degradation, energy scarcity - these challenges demand holistic and integrated solutions," he stressed.

Noting the ongoing global financial crisis, Mr. Ban said he was troubled by the decline in official development assistance (ODA), and noted that ROK had recently decided to increase its contribution from 0.14 per cent of gross national income to 0.25 per cent by 2015.

He noted the importance of generating decent jobs and opportunities for young people, as well empowerment women and goals, as a way to accelerate and sustain the MDG gains.

Mr. Ban also stressed the importance of the MDG campaign in shaping a shared vision for a sustainable development agenda to follow them after 2015.

The High-level Panel of Eminent Persons, which Mr. Ban convened, provided valuable proposals for a post-2015 vision, along with the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals.

In addition, citizens around the world, more than half a million from Africa, have also been contributing ideas through national consultations and an online survey called MyWorld.

Earlier this week, Mr. Ban issued a key report outlining his vision to galvanize efforts to achieve the MDGs as well the sustainable development agenda to follow them after 2015.

The report, A Life of Dignity for All, comes ahead of a 25 September key meeting of world leaders at UN headquarters, where they will discuss what needs to be done to accelerate efforts to meets the MDGs and define a new global development agenda beyond 2015.

"Ours is the first generation with the resources and know-how to end extreme poverty and put our planet on a sustainable course before it is too late," Mr. Ban said in the report. "Fulfilling our existing commitments and promises on the MDGs must remain our foremost priority."

In an interview with UN Radio, Mr. Ban's Special Adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning, Amina Mohammed, underlined the progress on the MDGs while stressing much more needs to be done.

"There is still a lot more to do, and there is time to do it and time to make a difference," she said, adding that while there have been significant advancements on MDGs such as water and sanitation and universal education for boys and girls, countries need to go further to ensure "no one is left behind."

Ms. Mohammed said the Secretary-General's report asks UN Member States to raise their ambition in the next development agenda, putting sustainability at its core. "We need to find a way of ensuring that within our countries that we do talk to the issues that reinforce this, that we have better institutions and capacities to make this happen at the country level in the longer-term," she said, while stressing that global partnerships will also be essential to make an impact.

"The message is clear: this is an opportunity for us to rebirth and reinvent what we need to do as a global community and to make multilateralism work for the good of all," she added.

Mr. Ban's report calls for a new, broader set of targets that reflect new global challenges and take into account new economic realities as well as technological advances that are reshaping lives.

The goals should be measurable, adaptable to global and local setting, and apply to all countries, and should primarily seek to provide new inclusive economic opportunities while advancing social justice and protecting the environment.

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