The UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank hosted a high-level side event on the margins of the 68th UN General Assembly titled ‘Tackling the unfinished business: Accelerating MDG progress,' which was organized in collaboration with the Governments of the Republic of Korea and Japan.
24 September 2013: The UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank hosted a high-level side event on the margins of the 68th UN General Assembly titled ‘Tackling the unfinished business: Accelerating MDG progress,’ which was organized in collaboration with the Governments of the Republic of Korea and Japan.
The event, which was moderated by journalist Bill Blakemore, showcased experiences that can lead to further acceleration and collaboration to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and sought to enhance political commitment and momentum for the remaining 829 days until the MDG deadline.
Carl Lewis, UN Goodwill Ambassador, introduced the event urging world leaders to take the baton of accelerated action to the finish line of the MDGs. He assured participants that with commitment, focus and perseverance, the world can eradicate poverty. In opening remarks by the Co-Chairs, Jim Yong Kim, World Bank Group President, said the global recovery must be sustained at the global level. Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator, reviewed the evolution of the MDG Acceleration Framework (MAF), and observed that bottlenecks to progress may lie far beyond the sector that is struggling to reach a target.
In a session on country experiences in accelerating the MDGs, Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, outlined innovations that enabled her country to become successful on MDGs, including in the areas of targeted social safety nets, food security, education for girls, judicial reform and use of ICT to disseminate disaster warnings. John Dramani Mahama, President of Ghana, said his country drew up an action plan on maternal mortality in response a presidential declaration of the issue as a national emergency. On primary education, progress was enhanced by a school feeding programme in areas supported by the World Food Programme (WFP). Working with partners will remain central, Mahama said.
Laura Chinchilla, President of Costa Rica, said her country has enacted universal health insurance, strengthened youth employment, and focused on the traditionally-neglected populations of young children and older persons. She outlined national advances in sustainable development, pointing to the protection of 25% of its territory as national reserves and parks, and deriving 90% of its electricity from renewable sources. She added that Costa Rica is now a leading carbon-neutral country and the fifth greenest country in the world. Chinchilla shared six essentials for success: strengthening economic policies for growth; making MDGs an integral part of the development process; making decisions on allocating resources, made possible in Costa Rica with UNDP’s help to estimate the costs of achieving MDG targets; measuring and reporting progress; updating data and information; and building alliances between and within countries. She added that it is difficult for Middle Income Countries (MICs) to achieve social goals when there are “contrary objectives,” such as disproportionate investment in the military.
Clark said the speakers had already identified key messages: the importance of leadership and leaders’ focus on what needs to be done; the role of data and measurement; and an emphasis on both poverty reduction and environmental sustainability.
Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, President of Tanzania, said investing in infrastructure such as roads and electricity translates itself into progress on extreme poverty. Also highlighting the importance of infrastructure for rural economies, Lord Tu’ivakano, Prime Minister of Tonga, gave the example of airports enabling farmers to export their crops. He said the MAF should continue to help with post-2015 development efforts and the work of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Kim said in the final stretch of the MDGs, even greater progress could occur than has occurred already, noting the power of an end date. He urged participants to demonstrate the value of official development assistance (ODA) and partnerships with governments, and to show results that will inspire the next generation of funding. If we “limp to the finish line,” not achieving as much as possible, he said, people will reassess the value of this kind of work.
Speaking from the perspective of the private sector and philanthropic community, Melinda Gates, Gates Foundation, said the MDG’s successes so far are “the great story going untold.” She called for examining MDG data in as much “granularity” as possible, noting that detailed assessment had led to discovering which days of life pose the highest risk of childhood mortality, so that interventions could focus on that time.
In a session on redesigning partnerships to accelerate MDG progress, Yun Byung-se, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Korea, said the new development goals should focus not just on economic growth, but on people and the pursuit of dignity and happiness. Akikhiko Tanaka, President of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), identified three remaining tasks: complete the unfulfilled MDGs; reconfirm people-centered sustainable development, drawing on the principle of human security to ensure freedom from fear and want; and improve the quality of development, particularly on inclusiveness (e.g. universal health coverage) and resiliency (e.g. disaster and climate impacts). Andris Piebalgs, European Commissioner for Development, said the post-2015 agenda must start on the foundation of fully successful MDGs. He also highlighted resiliency and the crucial window immediately following a disaster.
Closing the event, Kim reiterated that “reputational issues” are at stake, and said the World Bank Group would use all the flexibility of its funding streams in support of MDG acceleration. Clark said acceleration “can be done,” and to ensure credibility for the post-2015 agenda, more success is indeed required. [UN Press Release] [UNDP Press Release] [Opening Statement of UNDP Administrator] [Webcast of Event] [IISD RS Story on New UNDP Report on MDG Acceleration]