The background documents on “Recognising the achievements, addressing the challenges and getting back on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015” shows progress in many areas and underscore that we need to pool our efforts in working towards common goals to succeed.
Many parts of the developing world, particularly in Asia but also in sub-Saharan Africa, have experienced high economic growth. In parts of Asia there has been a remarkable drop in number of people living below the poverty line, and globally the number of children starting school have increased sharply since 2000. This should make us optimistic, but not complacent.
Despite some development, the overall progress in the fight against hunger has been moderate. Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia are the two regions where many of the MDGs will not be achieved at present rate.
Halving the proportion of people living in extreme poverty by 2015 is part of Goal no 1, which is regarded as being the overarching goal. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are mutual interlinked, and failure to recognise the multidimensional causes and effects of poverty may hamper progress. National efforts supported by international cooperation, works, but need to be scaled up. Development assistance will have to be doubled, but aid alone will not be enough. A conducive international framework and improved national governance is crucial.
At the beginning of this year the Secretary-General called for making 2008 “the year of the bottom billion”. Evidence with regard to the gaps that need to be filled to achieve the MDGs seems to support the wisdom of this approach.
As we all know, achieving the MDGs on health by 2015 will be difficult, but possible. Great progress has been made in many countries, but others regretfully, are off track. There is a real danger that the appalling mortality figures for children and women in childbirth will continue – unless countries, agencies, NGOs and partners greatly improve their efforts. This can be done!
The Norwegian Government, with the strong and personal commitment of Prime Minister Stoltenberg, has given a special priority to help us reach MDGs 4 & 5 – saving children’s lives and the health and lives of their mothers.
Last September here in New York, – together with a number of other heads of state and government – the “Global Campaign for the Health Millennium Development Goals” was launched, which is a compelling call for stronger concerted action and new financing. The Campaign is sweeping around the world focussing on results. Focussing on getting better value for money and focussing on leadership, through a Network of Global Leaders.
More than 40 countries, funds and international agencies have so far joined in the effort. Norway has committed to increasing its financial support for pursuing the millennium goals on child and maternal health with an additional amount of 1 billion US dollars over ten years.
Today I am pleased to announce that we are releasing the progress report of this global campaign. This report is today posted on the web-site of the Norwegian UN mission and will also be sent to each and every permanent mission to the United Nations.
Another key challenge is ensuring Education for All (EFA). The background documents show that the number of children starting school has increased sharply since 2000 in some important regions and that participation in primary schooling worldwide has grown by 6.4%. According to the Global Monitoring Report (GMR) support to EFA appears to be loosing momentum through decreasing level of external financing to education. External aid commitments to EFA rose during the first years after 2000 to USD 10.7 billion. In 2005, however, external commitments fell by USD 2 billion and this trend is continuing.
A renewed global effort to ensure the fulfilment of MDG 2 (and 3) is needed. We would like to see the Education For All High Level meeting in Oslo in December 2008 serve as an arena for deciding on specific deliverables and bringing the Education For All agenda further.
Among the areas given particular priority in Norway’s development policy is gender equality and women’s empowerment. In order to eradicate extreme poverty it is vital to ensure the realisation of the rights of women that are set out in international human rights conventions. Without strengthening the role, participation and realizing the rights of women, the MDGs will not be met.
Increased international effort is necessary. National commitments to reduce poverty and hunger need to be even more prominent in national development and poverty reduction strategies. Increased effort from the international community must also be provided if our joint efforts to fight poverty and achieve the MDGs should succeed.
Despite the commitments in the Monterrey Consensus it is not encouraging to see that at present only 5 countries reach the 0.7% of ODA/GNI target, even though many countries have set timetables to reach this target by 2015.
This year provides us with several important opportunities to make progress: UN meetings on achieving the MDGs, the Financing for Development meeting in Doha, the schedule toward agreeing on post-Kyoto commitments to combat climate change, and the High-level meeting on Education for All, to mention just a few.
Norway attaches great importance to reinforcing the role of the UN system in development. The United Nations system should increasingly provide more focussed and effective support to improve national capacities for service delivery, infrastructure development, policy planning and monitoring. It is crucial that the UN agencies, together and individually, are efficient and competent organisations that carry out their core mandate and contribute to concerted efforts to realise the Millennium Development Goals.
Thank you, Mr President.