7 November 2003


NEW YORK, 6 November (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the message of Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the World Economic Development Declaration Conference in Zhuhai, China, (6 to 7 November), delivered by Khalid Malik, United Nations Resident Coordinator and United Nations Development Programme Resident Representative in China:

It gives me great pleasure to send my greetings to everyone who has gathered from across China and from around the world for this timely conference.  I would like to thank the Government and people of China for this expression of support for the United Nations and for the cause of equitable, sustainable development.

Three years ago, in adopting the Millennium Declaration, world leaders identified global poverty as the most daunting of all the problems facing the world in the new century, and resolved to tackle it at the national and global levels alike, including through a series of clear development targets -- the Millennium Development Goals.

These eight commitments -- including halving extreme poverty, halting the spread of HIV/AIDS, providing universal primary education, promoting gender equality and protecting against environmental degradation -- are simple but powerful objectives that every man and woman in the street, from New York to New Delhi, from Zambia to Zhuhai, can easily understand and support.  They are also different from other bold pledges that became broken promises over the past 50 years:  first, because they have unprecedented political support; second, because they are measurable and time-bound, with most of this agenda meant to be attained by the year 2015; and third -- and most important -- because they are achievable.

The Millennium Development Goals are not just wishful thinking. They are certainly ambitious, but they are also technically feasible, even in the relatively short time allowed.  However, overall progress has been uneven at best. There is no autopilot, no magic of the marketplace, no rising tide in the global economy that will lift all boats. Good, democratic governance and sound development strategies are paramount.  Equally vital is a true partnership engaging developed and developing countries alike -- which is itself one of the Goals.

The United Nations and its partners are mounting a major effort to promote progress towards the MDGs -- through new operational support to developing countries; a new research initiative that draws on the best of global thinking on each issue; campaigns aimed at raising awareness among policy makers and the general public; and annual reports that will monitor progress on a country-by-country basis.

I am pleased to note that the first MDG Report on China will be available in the coming months.  I urge all of you to examine it closely, and consider how best to contribute to future progress here in China, on urgent matters such as AIDS and environmental protection, and how China’s experiences in reducing the number of people living under the poverty line might help other countries in their quest to do the same.

The Millennium Development Goals are a tool: for mobilizing support and for holding governments accountable.  They are a test:  for developing countries, which must undertake political and economic reforms and liberate the creative energies of their people; and for developed countries, which must support these steps with new aid commitments, debt relief and equitable trading rules. They are, ultimately, a call to which every one of us can and should respond.

This conference is an opportunity to forge the partnerships -- in particular among governments, private sector enterprises and civil society groups -- that are essential if we are to bring real, positive change into the lives of the poor.  I look forward to working with you to make a contribution to global peace and to ensure that globalization becomes a positive force for all the world’s people.  In that spirit, please accept my best wishes for a successful conference.

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