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World

Millenium Development Goals hit by crisis but still achievable, UN says

A United Nations report says its drive to halve global poverty by 2015 was slowed down by the food and economic crisis, but momentum remains intact.

Building of the United Nations in New York with flags in front of it

In 2000 world leaders promised to halve global poverty by 2015

The United Nations published its 2010 Millenium Development Goals Report simultaneously in New York, Paris and Berlin on Wednesday.

The food crisis of 2008 as well as the 2009 economic crisis "didn't stop progress" in reaching the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs), the report said, but had made the prime goal of halving global poverty by 2015 "more difficult to achieve."

The number of people in the world living on less than the $1.25 (1.05 euros) per day global poverty line had substantially decreased from 46 percent in 1990 to 27 percent in 2005 - the latest available figure on global hunger given in the report.

"We are still on track to bring poverty down to 15 percent of the global population," said Charles Abugre, the Director for Africa of the United Nations MDG campaign, who presented the report in Berlin on Wednesday.

Smal undernourished African children holding up a soup ladle

Hunger remains rampant in some parts of the world

"All regions in the world have made progress," he stressed, except for Central Asia which in the past few years had been "riven by war and armed conflicts."

Mixed picture on other goals

Ten years after world leaders agreed on the United Nations Millenium Development Goals, the UN report claimed "huge progress" on a number of goals, but also "no progress at all" in several others.

The mortality rate of children below five dropped to 8.8 million in 2008 - a reduction of 28 percent compared with 1990, but still wide of the 75 percent by 2015 mark.

Progress was also made regarding mortality of mothers in childbirth, but still not enough to reach the 5.5 percent annual reduction rate envisaged in the MDGs.

As far as HIV/Aids, tuberculosis and malaria are concerned, the report said the stabilization and "in fact, reduction of infection numbers was a good example of how concerted international efforts are workling."

"Environmental degradation, however, continues at an alarming pace," Charles Abugre said.

Deforestation at a rate of 13 million hectares a year "was still enormous," he said and added: "CO2 emissions have even increased by almost 50 percent over the past 17 years, and in spite of a minor slowdown in emissions due to the crisis, are set to increase further."

Rich countries' pledges unmet

"Figures of Official Development Assistance (ODA) given by rich countries to the developing world in 2009 also gave reason for concern," Abugre said.

group foto of the government leaders of the group of 8 industrialized nations at their 2005 summit in Gleneagles

In 2005 G8 leaders promised to increase ODA, but haven't met their pledges

A slight increase of just 0.7 percent compared with 2008, as well as planned ODA cuts in a number of countries in 2010 were "a sign of the current economic crisis affecting efforts to fight poverty," Abugre added.

He called on Germany, and other industrialized countries to make up for the shortfall "once economic growth there started to rebound."

Agbure also demanded that rich countries should speed up efforts "to further open their markets for products from developing countries," and most importantly" to reduce instability in global financial markets which has affected developing countries more severly than the industrialized world."

Author: Uwe Hessler
Editor: Rob Turner

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