In Washington: Camille Funnell (202) 458-9369
Geetanjali Chopra (202) 473-0243
WASHINGTON, 31 July 2007 – World Bank President, Robert B. Zoellick joined global leaders in supporting a UK-led initiative to accelerate progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)—international targets to overcome poverty, hunger, disease and other development challenges in the poorest countries by 2015.
UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown declared a ‘development emergency’ in a speech delivered in New York today, stating that the international community was falling short of the targets adopted at the UN Summit in 2000. With only seven and a half years left until the 2015 deadline, Prime Minister Brown called on governments, business leaders, faith groups and civil society worldwide to form a new partnership to mobilize action and hasten the pace of progress in developing countries.
Heads of state and governments from developed and developing countries, and CEOs from large multinational companies backed his call by adding their name to an MDG declaration.
The World Bank—one of the largest sources of development assistance for the poorest countries—also voiced its support for the renewed international efforts to achieve the MDGs.
"The World Bank welcomes Prime Minister Brown's leadership and focus on the MDGs. I look forward to attending a session hosted by the United Nations Secretary General this September to concentrate on achieving the MDGs in Africa,,” said World Bank President, Robert Zoellick.
“We will do all we can to support the program Prime Minister Brown has outlined, including through the important drive to replenish funding for the International Development Association (IDA), critical for the most impoverished countries," Mr. Zoellick added.
The International Development Association provides interest-free loans and grants to the world’s 80 poorest countries for programs that boost economic growth, reduce inequalities and improve people’s living conditions. Nearly half of IDA resources are used to assist countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.
According to a World Bank report issued last April, countries in South Asia, Latin America and East Asia are on track to meeting the first MDG of halving extreme poverty by 2015 from 1990 levels. Sub-Saharan Africa, where nearly 300 million people are surviving on less than $1 a day, is the one region that is unlikely to meet this MDG.
Furthermore, all regions are off track to meet the MDG related to reducing child mortality. Nutrition remains a major challenge, with nearly one-third of all children in developing countries underweight or stunted. And half of the people in developing countries continue to lack access to adequate sanitation.