Clock is ticking, time to put words into action on the MDGs

In response to a draft United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Outcome Document circulating today, international agency Oxfam urges the UN to turn reams of nice words into an action agenda that genuinely delivers on fighting poverty.

At the UN Summit, in New York [20-22 September], world leaders must show bold leadership and agree to set out an ambitious action plan that will ensure that promises are kept to the world's poorest people.

Hosted by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, around 190 Heads of State and Governments, along with the CEOs of the world's biggest businesses and hundreds of anti-poverty organizations, will gather in New York this month for a special three-day meeting on how to accelerate the progress on the agreed eight MDGs by 2015. Oxfam is calling on them to treat this as an emergency summit and step up their efforts and make good on their previous commitments to halve extreme poverty by 2015.

Emma Seery, Oxfam's spokeswoman said: "This document lacks the adrenaline boost to accelerate the MDGs, and with only five years left, world leaders coming together in New York must commit to concrete actions that will ensure all people are lifted from poverty in our lifetime."

The Outcome Document in its current form includes wording on governments living up to past promises, and has established a UN role in ensuring a degree of government accountability on their commitments. It also proposes that leaders come together again in 2013 to review progress on the MDGs.

However, donors have collectively fallen short of living up to their promises. In 2005, at the G8 Summit at Gleneagles, leaders promised to increase overseas aid by $50 billion by 2010, with $25 billion of this going to Africa. Around 40 percent of the promised aid increase has not been delivered. Of the $50 billion promised, Oxfam calculates only $30 billion will be delivered. This leaves a $20 billion dollar hole. Twenty billion dollars is just 0.0006% of G8 GNI, yet is enough to put every child in school or stop millions of children dying of malaria. Only $11 billion of the $25 billion promised to Africa has reached the continent. This is the poorest continent on earth, yet donors have failed to do more here than for the rest of the world.

Seery said: "If we are to prevent the very real danger that progress on the MDGs will be wiped out, we must see leaders standing firm on their commitments so that they can be proud of their progress in 2013. Now more than ever is a time for action, not just words."

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Read the blog: 2010: no flying cars but an opportunity to get the Millennium Development Goals back on track

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Contact information

Caroline Hooper-Box, Oxfam International media lead for aid, health and education:

  • +1 202 321 2967
  • Twitter: @HooperBox