As world leaders gathered today at the United Nations Headquarters in New York to focus on laying the groundwork for a new sustainable development agenda, the President of Zambia highlighted the importance of building global partnerships to address issues of poverty and development.
In his statement today to the opening of the General Assembly's General Debate, President Michael Chilufya Sata said that the importance of the intergovernmental processes on sustainable development "is critical and cannot be overemphasized."
Mr. Sata and the other General Assembly participants are due tomorrow to discuss ways to accelerate progress towards the eight anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and to "set the stage" for a development agenda after the 2015 deadline.
Ahead of those discussions, he stressed the need for a single set of universally agreed goals reflecting sustainable development priorities which are "actionable, concise and whose implementation will resonate with different development and economic levels of Member States."
He emphasized the need for such goals to be "prudently balanced" and "effectively integrate the economic, social and environmental" aspects of development.
"To this effect," Mr. Sata said, "it is necessary to build global partnerships that are supported by commitments towards regional and international cooperation, anchored with mutual accountability, enhanced local private sector and public private partnerships."
Turning to Zambia's progress on the MDGs, he noted that the country has made "tremendous progress" on Goal 4, which calls for reducing by two-thirds the percentage of under-five mortality rates, and Goal 5, which calls for reducing by three-quarters maternal mortality ratios.
The national MDG report also indicated that while the challenges are still immense, Zambia has made great strides in its fight against HIV and AIDS, and ensuring that people who are living with the virus receive the best of care and access to social protection services.
The country faces challenges, however, in lowering levels of poverty and unemployment.
"My Government has taken an unprecedented painful step of curtailing subsidies on fuel and maize," Mr. Sata said, thereby releasing "much needed resources" for programmes that specifically target poverty alleviation.
Mr. Sata is among the scores of leaders to speak at the annual General Assembly session at which heads of State and Government and other high-level officials will present their views and comments on issues of individual national and international relevance.