UN call to financial arms for new war on poverty


UNITED NATIONS: Hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent battling extreme poverty and disease since 2000 and now the United Nations (UN) is lining up a new war on the social distress still suffered by huge numbers around the world.

Ideas on targets to follow the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and how to pay will be in a report to be handed over by Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Thursday to UN leader Ban Ki-moon.

Yudhoyono, Liberia’s President Ellen Sirleaf Johnson and Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron drew up the report with 24 other ministers, business representatives and experts. The UN now has less than 1,000 days to meet the existing eight Millennium goals and decide how they should be followed.

When the MDGs were agreed at a UN summit in 2000, experts predicted the goals—ranging from halving numbers living on less than $1.25 a day, to cutting mortality among under fives by two thirds and halting the spread of AIDS—would cost about $60 billion.

The UN says the poverty target has already been reached, mainly because China’s economic miracle has created so much new wealth.

Progress on the other targets has been steady, but Ban’s panel has agreed that helping the remaining 1.5 billion chronically poor—increasingly entrenched in sub-Saharan Africa—remains the priority. The UN could face a battle on how to carry out the renewed vow, though.

Experts are reluctant to estimate how much has been spent on the MDGS so far.

“Western donors have spent hundreds of billions of dollars in aid since the Millennium goals were agreed in 2000,” said Simon Scott, head of the statistics and development finance division at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris.

“In fact, annual aid flows have increased by half in real terms since then. Most donors orient their aid towards achieving the goals,” Scott said.


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