From the podium

From the podium

Mr Mark Malloch Brown (Administrator, United Nations Development Programme - UNDP)

Mr President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen. As we gather here to review the progress achieved since the World Food Summit of 1996, we are forced to face the fact that more than 800 million people in the world go without enough food every day. While the total number of undernourished people dropped in the 1990s, the rate of decline was far too slow to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of halving by 2015, the proportion of people suffering from hunger.

Despite progress in several large countries such as China, Indonesia, Nigeria and Thailand, many others are lagging. This is especially true of Africa. In about half of the countries south of the Sahara, the proportion of undernourished people continues to affect one-third or more of the population.

Combating hunger and achieving the other United Nations Millennium Development Goals are closely intertwined. A malnourished person cannot fulfil his or her individual potential; a nation of undernourished people cannot develop.

Take the issue of gender equality; women's status in society has a very important bearing on the nutrition of the family; empowering them through education, greater control over resources and genuine participation in decision-making will be essential to reduce hunger. Or look at the relentless spread of HIV/AIDS, which is having a devastating impact on food production in the worst affected countries, trapping many people in a vicious cycle of hunger, poverty and disease.

Simply put, from providing universal primary education to reducing maternal mortality, all the MDGs are at risk if we cannot successfully tackle the hunger goal. But that target should similarly not be tackled in isolation: if we are to meet it, we will have to make progress in other areas as well from reducing poverty to improving access to clean water.

The Secretary-General has asked me as Administrator of UNDP and Chair of the UN Development Group to act as "scorekeeper and campaign manager" for the MDGs, working closely with the UN Funds, Programmes and Agencies, the International Financial Institutions, OECD/DAC and other partners from civil society to the private sector, to build a coherent plan of action in support of these ambitious but very achievable goals and targets.

There are four key dimensions to this effort.

First, working through UNDG, UNDP has been helping integrate the MDGs into all aspects of the UN system's work at country level. A dedicated UNDG working group is now working to ensure these are reflected in all future programming and operational instruments with the aim of better aligning the programme work of the UN with the priorities set out in the Millennium Declaration. As a first step, the MDGs are being addressed through revised guidelines for the CCA and UNDAF.

Second, while the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs is leading an effort to monitor global progress, UNDG, working through UN Resident Coordinators, is helping publish regular reports on the status of each MDG at country level. These are helping to trigger vigorous public debate on key priorities of human development at the national and sub-national levels. The first nine pilots are already complete, and preliminary work has begun on another 40. We intend for every country covered to have completed at least its first MDG Report by 2004.

Third, those reports will be complemented by new research led by Professor Jeffrey Sachs, the special adviser to the Secretary-General on MDGs, working with agencies from across the UN system and scholars and policy-makers across the world in their areas of expertise, to help flush out just what policies, resources and partnerships will be needed to meet the MDGs by 2015.

On the hunger goal, this effort will be anchored by FAO, with strong support from WFP and IFAD – and we hope and expect that this work, building on the strong existing analysis by FAO prepared for this conference, will help guide similar efforts on the other MDGs as well as driving critical follow-up research at country level.

Fourth and finally, all this work will provide critical information to drive a series of advocacy and awareness-raising campaigns across the world – in developed countries targeted on increasing support through aid, trade and debt relief; in developing countries to help build a national consensus on the urgent need for action on the MDGs through policies, programmes and resource allocations. Working primarily through partners – civil society, the media and government – these campaigns will be driven at the country-level by local actors based on local priorities but linked to the same underlying goals.

Through these interlinked initiatives, therefore, we hope to not only spread awareness about the MDGs among policy-makers and general public alike, but also accelerate progress towards meeting them.

By doing so, the aim is to make them the linchpin of the global deal which emerged in Monterrey under which sustained policy reform, more and better spending on basic social services, and better governance capacity in the developing world are matched by direct support from the rich world in the form of trade, aid and investment and technology transfer in areas from health to information and communications technologies.

Because the fact is we simply cannot bequeath to future generations a world that is so rich, yet offers so wretched an existence to so many of its people.

Unless we act resolutely to reverse this trend; unless we shatter the complacency that blinds the world to the fact that so many of its citizens are left deprived of not only their rights and dignity but any prospect of lifting themselves and their families out of hunger and poverty; unless we take firm and resolute action to achieve all the Millennium Development Goals, then future generations will rightly condemn the selfishness and short-sightedness of their forebears.

Thank you.

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