September 25, New York: World leaders agreed on Wednesday to scale up action against extreme poverty, hunger, and disease ― at a Special Event on the Millennium Development Goals hosted by the President of the UN General Assembly ― while calling for a 2015 Summit to adopt a new set of development targets to replace the expiring MDGs.
In an outcome communiqué, countries lauded the “strong progress” made to date towards achieving the eight Goals, which have provided a “common vision” for meeting the needs of the world’s poorest.
Member States also expressed concern at the unevenness and gaps in MDG achievement in the face of immense challenges, agreeing to take “purposeful and coordinated” action to accelerate progress.
“We must do everything possible to accelerate action and get the job done by 2015,” remarked General Assembly President John Ashe in his opening statement. “Urgently implementing the global partnership for development is not only a moral obligation, but will also put us at the best possible starting point for agreeing what comes next.”
Visiting New York this week for the opening of the 68th UN General Assembly, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva urged nations to sustain the considerable strides made in recent years on tackling hunger (nearly 40 countries have already met the MDG hunger target, he noted, while 80 more are on track).
“Time has come for one final, concentrated, and coordinated push to meet the MDGs,” declared Mr. Graziano da Silva. “But we cannot stop there. We need to carry that momentum forward, working to reach even bolder goals, as laid out by the UN Secretary General in the Zero Hunger Challenge.”
The FAO DG also called on policymakers to heed three lessons learned from his organization’s extensive anti-hunger work. “First, ending hunger is a duty of every citizen. Second, the rural poor are not the problem, but a major part of the solution. And third, we need to make our food systems more efficient, productive, sustainable, and fair.”
“If we open our minds,” he added, “to new ideas, new partners, new ways of acting, we can and will eradicate poverty and hunger in our lifetimes”.
As for what a post-2015 development agenda should resemble, it “must be bold in ambition, simple in design, and supported by a new partnership for development,” remarked UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
“It [the agenda] also needs to be rights-based,” continued Mr. Ban, “with particular emphasis on women, young people and marginalized groups. And, not least, it must protect the planet’s resources, emphasize sustainable consumption and production, and support action to address climate change.”
Other prominent speakers during the day-long Special Event included Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, US Secretary of State John Kerry, South African President Jacob Zuma, World Bank President Jim Kim, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, and Microsoft founder and Gates Foundation chairman Bill Gates.