10 June 2005

At Launch of Progress Report on Millennium Goals, Secretary-General Says 2005 Is ‘Make-or-Break’ Year for World’s Poor

NEW YORK, 9 June (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of remarks by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the launch of “The Millennium Development Goals Report 2005” in New York today:

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you all for coming. I am pleased to be here with José Antonio Ocampo and Thoraya Obaid to present a comprehensive report on how we are progressing towards the Millennium Development Goals.

As you know, this year is crucial in our work to achieve the Goals. In September, world leaders will meet here at the United Nations, five years after they adopted the Millennium Declaration and 10 years before the Goals fall due. They will assess how far their pledges have been fulfilled, and decide on what further steps are needed.

We expect the summit to be the largest gathering ever of world leaders -- larger even than the Millennium Summit.

In many ways, the task this year will be much tougher than it was in 2000. Instead of just setting targets, this time leaders must decide on concrete steps to achieve them. They must decide on a plan to reach the Millennium Development Goals.

That is why 2005 and the summit are a make-or-break moment for the MDGs -- and for the world’s poor.

This report tells us how far we have come, and how far we have to go, in each of the world’s regions.

It is a mixed scorecard. There has been a massive, unprecedented reduction in poverty worldwide since 1990, led by Asia. But, at the same time, the very poorest are getting poorer in sub-Saharan Africa.

That means that if current trends persist, many of the poorest countries will not be able to meet many -- or perhaps any -- of the Millennium Development Goals.

Considering how far we have come, such a failure would be a tragically missed opportunity.

That is why I warmly welcome initiatives such as the agreement reached by the European Union last month on a substantial increase in official development assistance over the next decade.

I especially welcome the EU timetable for reaching, by 2015, the 0.7 per cent target for official development assistance as a percentage of gross national income. Such a timetable is crucial to meeting the MDGs.

The fact that 50 per cent of the EU’s agreed ODA increase will go to Africa will provide a significant boost to efforts to reach the Goals by 2015.

I am also deeply encouraged by the strong commitment of the EU and other donors to reach agreements on debt relief, targets for improving aid effectiveness, and the Doha trade negotiations.

I look to all donors to follow their example. And I look to developing countries to do their part -- to adopt and implement, with the support of donors, national MDG strategies as a key step to accelerating progress.

Ladies and gentlemen, the next few months will offer three crucial opportunities for the world to demonstrate its commitment to reaching the MDGs:

-- First, the General Assembly high-level Dialogue on Financing for Development later this month;

-- Second, the Group of Eight Summit in July; and

-- Third, of course, the Summit here at the United Nations in September.

It is vital that world leaders -– from developed and developing countries alike –- seize these opportunities to decide on concrete actions which will help us reach the Millennium Development Goals.

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