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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 11th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

In 2001, in response to the world leaders’ request, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan presented the Road Map Towards the Implementation of the United Nations Millennium Declaration, an integrated and comprehensive overview of the situation, outlining potential strategies for action designed to meet the goals and commitments of the Millennium Declaration.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are eight goals to be achieved by 2015 that respond to the world’s main development challenges. The MDGs are drawn from the actions and targets contained in the Millennium Declaration that was adopted by 189 nations-and signed by 147 heads of state and governments during the UN Millennium Summit in September 2000.

The 8 MDGs break down into 18 quantifiable targets that are measured by 48 indicators. Click here for a full list of Goals, Targets and Indicators

  • Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  • Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education
  • Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women
  • Goal 4: Reduce child mortality
  • Goal 5: Improve maternal health
  • Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
  • Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability
  • Goal 8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development

The MDGs:

synthesize, in a single package, many of the most important commitments made separately at the international conferences and summits of the 1990s;

recognize explicitly the interdependence between growth, poverty reduction and sustainable development;
acknowledge that development rests on the foundations of democratic governance, the rule of law, respect for human rights and peace and security;

are based on time-bound and measurable targets accompanied by indicators for monitoring progress; and
bring together, in the eighth Goal, the responsibilities of developing countries with those of developed countries, founded on a global partnership endorsed at the International Conference on Financing for Development in Monterrey, Mexico in March 2002, and again at the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development in August 2002.

So, we are now in March 2008, more then halfway into the timing of the period alloted for achieving the MDGs, and one wonders if we did not get lost on that Roadway.

The new Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, convened September 14, 2007 his First Africa MDG Steering Group, and now, today, March 10, 2008 was the Second meeting of the group – all this so a new – High -Level meeting be set up for September 25, 2008 – this before the start on next UN General Assembly meeting.

Today, after a half day of meetings at which participated also Professor Jeffrey Sachs of the Columbia University Earth Institute, the participants came out to meet the UN Press. The Media Advisory follows:

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Following is how the UN DAILY NEWS of March 10, 2008, from the UNITED NATIONS NEWS SERVICE Summarized this:

URGENT ACTION CRUCIAL FOR AFRICA TO MEET ITS DEVELOPMENT TARGETS – BAN KI-MOON.

“Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged scaled-up action – including raising agricultural productivity across Africa – so that the continent can meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the target date of 2015.

This year could be “the year of opportunity for the ‘Bottom Billion,” Mr. Ban told reporters after chairing the second meeting of the so-called MDG Africa Steering Group in New York. “Tremendous gains are possible if the international community translates commitment to deliverables.”

He pointed to examples of achievements made, such as Malawi’s lowering of child mortality rates, Senegal’s accomplishments in enhancing its water and sanitation facilities and Tanzania’s improvements in primary education. “The challenge is now to replicate these successes in more countries,” he observed.

Today’s meeting identified several key programmes that need to be implemented by African nations, with assistance from the international community, in the near future, including launching an African “Green Revolution” to speed up economic growth and tackle hunger; controlling infectious diseases by providing comprehensive AIDS treatment by 2010 and bringing malaria mortality rates close to zero by 2012; and ensuring emergency obstetric care for all women by 2015.

The Secretary-General noted that there are several pressing challenges, especially that of rising food prices. It is essential to raise the productivity of farmers while also mobilizing resources to combat malnutrition and hunger, he said, adding that $500 million is required to meet the “most urgent needs.”

He voiced hope that the Group’s recommendations would spur action on the part of world leaders and encourage them to focus on specific steps that need to be agreed upon to reach development targets.

“We see a lot of leadership from African governments on these issues, and we are committed to working with them to support the design and implementation of country-led strategies and programmes,” he said.

Mr. Ban noted that on 25 September, he and the General Assembly President will convene a high-level meeting on the MDGs bringing together world leaders, civil society and the private sector. He voiced hope that this upcoming gathering will “make a real difference in bridging the implementation gap.”

Speaking to the press after the meeting, the Secretary-General also highlighted the role of the “digital divide,” noting the possibility that African countries lacking information technology capacity may “lag behind more and more.”

The MDG Africa Steering Group was set up last September after data showed that despite faster growth and strengthened institutions, Africa remains off-track to meeting the targets.”

The actual video tape – webcast of the Press Conference is here:

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[Webcast: Archived Video English: 54 minutes ]
[Webcast: Archived Video Original Language: 54 minutes ]

The Press was seated in the first three rows of the large room. UN Security was at the door and said this is for Press only. Nevertheless there were many people that were not from the press in the rows beyond the first three rows. Who were they and how did they get in? The UN Secretary-General made a short presentation, and then the floor was opened for the press to ask questions. Turned out that there was time only for 10 questions, and UN Spokesperson Michelle Montas was careful to allow only questions on Development in Africa, though one political question about Myanmar managed to sneak in. We find limiting the questions to development in Africa appropriate, so pure political issues are kept out – but then there might be a problem with the interpretation of what is a development question – and this could become a way for the UN to keep out non-complimentary questions.

On the front row on the podium sat:

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon;

Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank;

Alpha Oumar Konaré, Chairman of the African Union Commission;

Louis Michel, European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid at the European Commission;

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund;

Mohammed Ennifar, Senior Advisor, at the Islamic Development Bank;

Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development;

Robert Zoellick, President of the World Bank.

Behind them was a line of specialists, that included Professor Sachs, and functionaries.

The questions were answered mainly by the UNSG, and by Mr. Konare, Messrs. Louis Michel, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Angel Gurria and Robert Zoellick Participated each in answering one question only. Messrs. Kaberuka and Ennifar did not participate at all.

The Secretary-General said that “we identified our target – we have to integrate Africa in the global economy.” To get there he called for intensifying trade negotiations. He called for a new Green Revolution in Africa and this was not just a question of seeds – it is rather developing markets, enhance use of fertilizers and open up the developed countries to African products. There is a possibility here to have African food suppliers that provide to other African countries. These are ideas that Professor Jeffrey Sachs was working on for years. Eventually, as an answer to the last question, Mr. Zoelick said that at a time that food prices are high – that is exactly the right time to stop agricultural subsidies and this will in effect decrease the price of food because of the possibility now to produce for better market condition and this will nevertheless also help reduce the price of food even in the developed countries.

John Helprin from AP wanted to know which of the MDGs is most off-track and got from the UNSG the answer that they are all off-track – we need more aid and more participation by the countries themselves.

A correspondent from Africa asked in French Mr. Konare, who was the President of Mali for two five-year terms (1992 to 2002), and Chairperson of the African Union, about fighting poverty while so much is spent on the conflicts. He said that Africa must acquire the means to take action by themselves. “You need an institutional approach – resolve conflict on the basis of law.” To another question about China’s involvement in Africa he said that this is good only in the short term. Africa needs investments. Everybody goes to China for money and China could be a new major partner – and we welcome this full heartedly – but actually they come for raw materials and leave the rest unchanged. Konare said “we are at half time now (on the way to 2015)” we need investments now – but he added also that “we want all partnerships on the basis of democratic values.”

Tuyet Nguyen, from German Press, wanted to know about China exploiting Sudan oil, got from Mr. Konare the answr that China in Sudan is a complicated case.

Rhonda wanted to know about South Korea’s development and how to take this experience to Africa. This obviously played to the hands of the Secretary-General who said that Africa is lagging in information technology and this is very serious. In Korea, in the 70’s and 80’s, there was self help in villages to transform them into modern villages – village leaders competing among themselves. This the Koreans introduced to Rwanda, and Mr. Ban said that in the morning Konare said that the people need self respect. Mr. Guria said that with the Partnership for Democratic Government there will be a ministerial meeting on the internet economy.

Matthew Russell Lee asked about the billion dollars spent in Sudan and the DRC and if the AU is happy the way contracts are allocated – but rather then writing about the exchange with Mr. Konare, we will rather post here how Mr. Lee saw these answers. And here one can see that Mr. Konare welcomes the UN investigative press – and would it not be nice had the UN more of it! Let us already say here also that we felt, Mr. Konare was indeed the star of the event, and a question that asked him how he feels about his time as head of the AU, as he will be leaving the helm, – was he successful in his leadership – allowed him to give his clear analysis that not everything is fine.

Press to Expose UN’s Scandals, African Union’s Konare Says, As EC Inquires into Lockheed Deals

By Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press.

UNITED NATIONS, March 10 — “The press is doing its work, to denounce the scandals,” African Union chairman Alpha Oumar Konare intoned Monday, speaking beside UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon about development in Africa. Inner City Press asked if the African Union was satisfied with the way the UN chooses the beneficiaries of its multi-million dollar peacekeeping contracts in Africa, in light of recent exposure of no-bid contracts to Lockheed Martin and Request for Proposals tweaking for France. In response, Chairman Konare called for “good governance and transparency, because states are looking at this with particular attention today.” (Video see, from Minute 43:47.)

This attention was made clear following the press conference, when European Commissioner Louis Michel sought out Inner City Press to note that the UN’s contracting process is the subject of pending questions in the European Parliament. “You are right,” he said, “there is a problem.” He added, by contrast to the UN’s December 31, 2007 no-bid $12 million contract with Lockheed Martin to feed the peacekeepers in Darfur that the European Union buys locally. “There will be a debate on this,” he said.

Under the heading “Concern over cases of corruption at the United Nations,” Spain’s Emilio Menendez del Valle in Written Question E-0342/08 has asked “why it is worrying to learn (though also encouraging, since the problem is being confronted) that the UN’s Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS)” is “currently investigating, at the request of the General Assembly, a matter of special interest to the European Union… the award, without a tender procedure, of a USD 250 million contract to the US company Lockheed Martin to construct five bases in that region.” He asks,” is the Council not concerned at the course of events described above?” According to Louis Michel, the answer is yes: concern is growing.

Ironically, Ban Ki-moon’s spokesperson tried to cut off the question about the UN’s own spending in Africa, saying that it did not relate to development. Not only did Chairman Konare respond with a three minute response congratulating the press for exposing the scandal, also Mr. Ban raised his hand to offer the UN’s perspective on the procurement and transparency issued. But Mr. Ban was not called on. Next time, then.

Was above a notion that UN DPI does not let even the UNSG have his say? Watch the tape and find the answer!

Also, look at the tape to search if you hear anywhere words like SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT, GLOBAL WARMING, CLIMATE CHANGE spoken? I did not find a trace.

Did it occur to anyone that you will never achieve MDGs if you do not go by terms of SUSTAINABILITY? Are These Words To Be Discussed Separately From The Subject Of Development? This even at a time that the UNSG is now on record that much of the conflict in Africa has to do with environmental changes that came about because of climate change. Does not Development in Africa also have to address adaptation to climate change conditions that came about from lack of more serious mitigation efforts elsewhere? Did we not hear at other UN events about funding methods that come from a global approach to climate change? Should this not have been included in questions from the press? Was there anyone in that room, among the people of the press, that could have pulled into the discussion Professor Jeffrey Sachs who is known to have strong opinions in this area also?

Let us say – an unfinished agenda and indeed at half-time – an agenda that does not advance with promissing speed. Going now to the September 25, 2008 new – one day High-Level meeting – called for by the UNSG and the President of the UNGA – it seems that the there has to be some further cross-fertilization between the “develop Africa” track and the “global climate change” track – linked through the threads of Sustainable Development of Africa and of the rest of the world as well.

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