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Can the World Reach the MDGs?
Countries and aid agencies agreed on how to meet the Millennium Development Goals at a 2002 UN conference held in Monterrey.
Rich countries agreed to give more aid, provide debt relief and open up trade.
Developing countries assured they would effectively use the aid money, strengthen public institutions and fight corruption.
But progress has been disappointing.
With 10 years left to meet the MDG targets, the key question on the global policy agenda this year has been: "Can we still reach the Millennium Development Goals?”
Several reports have addressed this question. While estimates vary, all stress that aid to developing countries needs to be doubled:
• Investing in Development
by the UN Millennium Project
• Action for Strong and Prosperous Africa
by the Commission for Africa
• In Larger Freedom
by the UN Secretary-General
• Global Monitoring Report
by the World Bank and IMF
July 1, 2005 -- A series of high-profile international reports and meetings this year has focused the world's attention on development issues and the need to accelerate global efforts to reduce poverty.
Civil society has also mobilized around this issue in a worldwide campaign called the Global Call to Action Against Poverty.
These various strands are coming together on July 6-8 when leaders of the eight richest industrialized countries meet for their annual summit in Gleneagles, Scotland.
World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz has said the upcoming G8 summit could mark a new beginning in development assistance for the world’s poor countries, especially in Africa.
G-8 Summit, Key to Development Agenda
The development challenges facing Sub-Saharan Africa, climate change, and debt relief for the world’s poorest countries are key items on the agenda.
The G-8 leaders will also reflect on how far the world has come in reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of eight targets intended to halve poverty in the developing world by 2015.
The leaders will also assess available resources and new mechanisms aimed at lifting billions of people out of poverty. Last month, finance ministers of the G-8 countries proposed to cancel the debts that the world’s 18 poorest countries owed to international lenders.
The outcome of the two-day Gleneagles meeting will be closely watched by those in the developing world as a sign of the rich world's commitments to meet the MDGs. A United Nations-convened Millennium Summitin September is expected to build on the Gleneagles outcomes, thus setting the overall course for the development agenda ahead.
Reaching the Millennium Development Goals
Progress toward meeting the Millennium Development Goals has been slow and uneven across regions, according to the Global Monitoring Report, a World Bank/IMF publication.
The situation is the most dire in Africa, where many countries will not reach the targets at the current rate of progress.
Most African countries would need to double their average annual growth rates to 7% in order to halve poverty by 2015.
“Behind cold data on the MDGs are real people and lack of progress that has real and tragic consequences," said the World Bank's Zia Qureshi, lead author of the Global Monitoring Report.
"Every week, 200,000 children under five die of disease. Every week 10,000 women die giving birth. In Sub-Saharan Africa alone this year, 2 million people will die of AIDS. Worldwide, more than 100 million children in developing countries are not in school."
Despite these daunting challenges, World Bank President Wolfowitz said during his recent trip to Sub-Saharan Africa that there is a real "can do" attitude in region.
"I think this may be an extraordinary moment in history where Africa can become a continent of hope….""From farmers to teachers to government leaders, I’ve seen very talented people ready to tackle the problems and challenges facing them. The World Bank will do all it can to help Africa," Wolfowitz said.
World Bank’s Position
Last week, at the UN High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development in New York, the World Bank’s Chief Economist, Francois Bourguignon, welcomed the G-8 proposal to cancel the debt of the poorest countries and the agreement to fully cover the costs of the debt relief.
But Bourguignon also noted the need to provide additional funds for development. He called on the international community to significantly increase financial support for those countries that have detailed and sound development strategies underway.
“There are several countries that meet these criteria, have massive needs for investment in infrastructure and human development, and already show strong results,” Bourguignon says.
“The Bank is committed to working with the international community to improve the quality of aid: to bring ODA flows into close alignment with country strategies; to harmonize procedures; and to improve the stability and predictability of flows.”
In addition to calling for more aid, the World Bank emphasizes that development must be based on the following four principles:
- Countries should devise their own development strategies and be in charge of their implementation
- The private sector should lead economic growth
- Recipient countries should improve the delivery of basic human services, such as health, education
- All countries should move to dismantle global trade barriers