Press Releases

    18 June 2002

    Secretary-General Calls Foundations, Other Donors, Leading Agents in Fight to Attain Millennium Development Goals

    NEW YORK, 17 June (UN Headquarters) -- Following are the remarks by Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the meeting of foundations and other donors on the Campaign for the Millennium Development Goals, New York:

    I am very pleased to welcome you all to this informal discussion on the Millennium Development Goals. It is my hope that this initial meeting will lead to the creation of new partnerships, and -- in cases where we are already working together -- to a strengthening of our collaboration in the years ahead.

    I know you have received some background information from Mark Malloch Brown and that you have had an opportunity to familiarize yourselves with the development goals adopted at the Millennium Summit, and some of the plans and strategies that have already been developed to help reach them.

    One thing that's clear is that we will only reach these goals if we find new and creative ways to harness the power of all those institutions and organizations able to make a difference in the vital struggle for development. That is the purpose of this meeting. We at the United Nations hope to benefit from your knowledge, experience, and ability to mobilize resources.

    You in the world of foundations have always been leading agents in the fight for change. Many of you in this room, either personally or the institutions you represent, have played pivotal roles in advocating and acting for change. As we in the United Nations seek to broaden and deepen coalitions for change around the Millennium Development Goals, we know that we can only do this with your full participation and support.

    As you know, the eight Millennium Development Goals are part of the Millennium Declaration, which makes clear that if we want peace and stability, we must also promote sustainable development and apply our efforts to reduce the hunger, disease, illiteracy and poverty that are debilitating millions of men, women and children around the world. In other words, these goals are inextricably linked to each other and to the broader purposes of this Organization.

    There is no better demonstration of these linkages than Goal six -- to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases. One million African schoolchildren every year find their schooling disrupted because their teacher dies of AIDS -- in some areas teachers are dying at faster rates than new ones can be trained. Increasing numbers of children worldwide are living in households with an HIV-infected member, resulting in an added burden of poverty, limited access to education and social exclusion.

    The World Food Summit, which I have just attended in Rome, heard how AIDS has killed millions of people working the fields of the very countries experiencing the greatest development challenges. Absent workers decreases food production, resulting in starvation.

    A new global commitment to fighting AIDS was evident in the rapid creation of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria -- a new kind of public-private partnership which announced its first round of grants in April. And the launch of the MTCT Plus initiative to protect children from HIV infection through mother-to-child transmission gave us a wonderful example of the priority that foundations are giving to fighting the epidemic.

    The second and third Development Goals -- to achieve universal primary education and to promote gender equality -- are no less central to the overall task of development. In 2000, an estimated 120 million children were not enrolled in school. They joined the ranks of nearly 1 billion adults who cannot read or write -- most of them women.

    Yet, empirical evidence shows that babies born to mothers without formal education are at least twice as likely to suffer from malnutrition or die before the age of five than are babies born to mothers who completed primary school. An educated woman is also the best guarantor that her children attend school.

    Health investments are also more effective when people are better educated. We know that new HIV infections are disproportionately concentrated among illiterate women. In Uganda, one of the success stories in HIV/AIDS prevention, a strong public information campaign helped reduce the number of new cases of HIV infection from 239,000 in 1987 to 57,000 in 1997. But if we look closer at the statistics we see that the infection rate among educated women dropped by almost half in the 1990s, whereas it did not show a significant decrease among women without formal education.

    If these challenges appear immense, I believe we can find inspiration and encouragement in some recent actions taken by Governments. At the World Trade Organization meeting in Doha last November, they began addressing the issue of fairness in the global market place. In Monterrey, they forged a global deal putting international cooperation, and the Millennium Development Goals, at the core of the international agenda. The Monterrey Consensus that emerged is based on partnership, with shared responsibilities and mutual accountability.

    The next step will be in September in Johannesburg at the World Summit on Sustainable Development. There, too, the Millennium Development Goals must be at the centre of our deliberations and provide a framework that can deliver measurable results in the coming years.

    In these and other recent events I see evidence of a momentum towards a real change in priorities, at both the global and national level. The horrors of September 11 strengthened our sense of a common destiny, and people around the world are looking for strategies and solutions to the challenges that we as one human family face together.

    I have appointed Mark Malloch Brown as "campaign manager" and "scorekeeper" for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) -- and Professor Jeffrey Sachs as my special adviser on the MDGs -- because I believe they can provide the leadership necessary to engage you as partners and keep the focus squarely on the Millennium Development Goals in the years ahead. I hope that you will join us in this effort, and make our cause yours.

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