Leaders seek paths to millennium goals

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VietNam News English - 55 month(s) ago 7 readings

World leaders kicked off a summit yesterday to hammer out new ways to meet ambitious targets set a decade ago to cut poverty, millions of avoidable deaths and improve equality by 2015.

US President Barack Obama, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France,Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are among the leaders who will put rival plans to get the badly behind schedule Millennium Developments Goals (MDGs) back on track.

Most experts say it will be impossible to meet any of the goals, which range from cutting the number of people in extreme poverty by half and the number of children who die before reaching five by two thirds, to fairer trade and spreading the internet to the world's poor.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says more money and political will is needed to give new life to the MDG campaign.

The European Union is expected to announce US$1 billion of MDG funds and the World Bank $750 million for education, according to aid groups.

That still leaves more than $120 billion to be found over the next five years. And the financial crisis has undermined much of the global community's ability to find new funds.

"I know there is scepticism but this MDG is a promise, a blueprint, by the world leaders to lift billions of people out of poverty. This must be met and delivered," Ban said in an interview ahead of the summit.

Leader after leader of the main UN agencies have painted the same grim picture however.

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova has called for a new commitment to education and gender equality – Millenium Goal number three.

"The advances made in improving girls' and women's access to education and training over the past decades risk being undermined by reductions in international aid and national investments as the world struggles to cope with interlocking crises," Bokova said.

"Yet, we all know that compromising the education of girls and women will only lead to more vulnerability and reinforce the vicious cycle of poverty."

Education in poor nations hit by financial crisis

NEW YORK — As world leaders meet this week to review a UN bid to cut poverty and hunger by 2015, the Global Campaign for Education warned that the financial crisis had halted improvements in education for children in impoverished countries.

There are 69 million children out of school around the world, said a report on the world's 60 poorest nations by the campaign, a coalition of more than 100 organisations.

But if all those children could be educated to leave school with just basic reading skills, about 171 million people could be lifted out of poverty, it said.

"If scientists can genetically modify food and NASA can send missions to Mars, politicians must be able to find the resources to get millions of children into school and change the prospects of a generation of children," said the campaign's president, Kailash Satyarthi.

"The momentum of the last 10 years could still be harnessed to make education for all a reality within five years," said former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, a member of the Global Campaign for Education High Level Panel.

"If education budgets are not protected from the ravages of the financial crisis all that progress could be jeopardised and generations will be condemned to poverty," he said. — REUTERS/VNS

Proposals to change strategy to make up the delays and shortfalls and even taxes on plane tickets, the internet, mobile phones and financial transactions are to be discussed at the summit at UN headquarters.

NEW YORK — As world leaders meet this week to review a UN bid to cut poverty and hunger by 2015, the Global Campaign for Education warned that the financial crisis had halted improvements in education for children in impoverished countries.

There are 69 million children out of school around the world, said a report on the world's 60 poorest nations by the campaign, a coalition of more than 100 organisations.

But if all those children could be educated to leave school with just basic reading skills, about 171 million people could be lifted out of poverty, it said.

"If scientists can genetically modify food and NASA can send missions to Mars, politicians must be able to find the resources to get millions of children into school and change the prospects of a generation of children," said the campaign's president, Kailash Satyarthi.

"The momentum of the last 10 years could still be harnessed to make education for all a reality within five years," said former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, a member of the Global Campaign for Education High Level Panel.

"If education budgets are not protected from the ravages of the financial crisis all that progress could be jeopardised and generations will be condemned to poverty," he said. — REUTERS/VNS

French President Sarkozy is expected to press his calls for a tax on banks to help pay for development.

Obama is due in New York tomorrow, delivering remarks at the closing session of the summit.

The 140 heads of state and government at the MDG summit plan to make a solemn declaration on the importance of the goals, which also aim to reach universal primary education, halt the spread of AIDS and take major steps to empower women.

But the main summit document acknowledges that the financial crisis has increased inequality and vulnerability in the world and halted progress made after the 2000 Millennium summit.

The UN chief says he is confident this week's meeting will "mobilise billions of dollars".

He is counting on help from big business, Bill Gates-style philanthropy and charities to help out the governments.

Ban also admitted that some of the targets may be left after 2015.

He is making maternal and child health the priorities in the last five years. They are, he said, "the slowest moving goals" of the Millennium.

Many aid groups believe the cost of putting the world to right on poverty, health and education is enormous but just a drop in the financial ocean.

Oxfam, for example, estimates that in 2015, it would have cost $151 billion to end all extreme poverty in the world, a figure it says barely exceeds the $131 billion spent worldwide on candy the same year. — AFP/VNS

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