World has chance to end extreme poverty for good - Cameron

David Cameron, flanked by Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Mr Cameron said all countries had an obligation to contribute to the global fight against poverty

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David Cameron has said there is a "real opportunity" to end extreme global poverty within the next few decades.

The prime minister said politicians had been talking about the goal for years but "this generation" had a chance of fulfilling the long-held ambition.

He was speaking after hosting a meeting of politicians from around the world to discuss anti-poverty strategies.

Mr Cameron has been asked by the UN to look into how poverty in developing countries should be tackled after 2015.

On Thursday, he co-chaired the first meeting of the United Nations panel, along with Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

'Great progress'

After the meeting, attended by 26 countries, Mr Cameron said "great progress" had been made since the launch of the Millennium Development Goals in the late 1990s but the international community must aspire to do even more.

All countries had obligations to do their bit to help meet the anti-poverty targets, he added - citing the need for the UK and other wealthier countries to be transparent about how their aid budget are spent.

"The principle aim of the panel should be finishing the job of ending extreme poverty...That is something that politicians have been talking about for a while but for the first time I think this generation really has the opportunity to do it."


The process begun in London should be completed by May when the "High Level Panel" reports to the UN secretary-general.

The London meeting is the first of three to be held in the capital cities of the three co-chairs, representing a spread of countries in terms of wealth.

Between the meetings, a separate process will go on to put ideas on paper, which one seasoned observer described as a "massive fight" over what should be in the final plan, who pays and how independent the successors to the MDGs will be of the UN.

Progress on the Millennium Development Goals has been patchy.

The UN says that for the first time the number of people living in extreme poverty is falling in every region of the world but the first MDG, cutting in half the proportion of people living in poverty, has been reached mainly because of the economic growth of China.

The Millennium Development Goals, set to be completed by 2015, are pledges by UN member countries to increase living standards in poorer parts of the world.

The first of them - reducing poverty among some of the very poorest - has been achieved, due largely to big increases in income in recent years in China and India. But attempts to reach other goals have been less successful.

Mr Cameron said there needed to be a renewed focus on tackling the causes of poverty - highlighting the importance of reducing corruption, promoting the rights of women and minorities and backing freedom of expression and association.

The panel will meet again in Monrovia and Jakarta next year, before reporting to the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon.

Most of the other attendees of the London gathering are ministers from foreign governments or heads of economic committees.

The Indonesian president, who is on a three-day state visit to Britain, said the UN panel had a "common vision" over how to respond to the challenges facing the developed and developing world.

"I believe that poverty eradication can only be achieved by raising the living standards of the poor around the world.

"This can be done by creating job opportunities and providing accessible and affordable health services, education facilities, housing, clean water and sanitation."

BBC international development correspondent David Loyn said that in finding a successor for the Millennium Development Goals, China and some African countries will want to stop what they see as further interference into governance.

But the big donor nations in the West will need guarantees of transparency and better accountability for governments who receive aid, if aid is to continue, our correspondent added.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 291.

    I have close ties with Kenya and have personally paid to put several children through secondry school. It costs £300 per year for everything per child. I realise to some that may be a lot of money and I am not rich, but when you see a family of 4 living in one hut with one small room with an outside communal toilet, you realise how lucky we are here in the UK. We can't choose where we are born.

  • rate this

    Comment number 290.

    Cameron should sort this country out first. Stop ALL foreign aid to these corrupt African states and only help poor countries when they are subject to natural disasters. I am sick of African despots blaming the colonialists for the state of their countries. They were ok when we left. It's corruption that's to blame not the UK. Spend UK taxpayers' money in the UK.

  • rate this

    Comment number 289.

    Tory voters are MEAN. They are selfish. I collect for the Blind and i live in a Tory constituency. When i open the envelopes that i have put through their doors - i find pennies. Sometimes there is nothing at all. It is true, a tory would not give a blind person a light.

  • rate this

    Comment number 288.

    Predators live at the top of any food chain, this isn't empathy, the rich have the ability to eradicate poverty, instead, they just choose to exploit it for financial/strategical gain. There is a huge market in poverty, they have been stress testing it here.

  • rate this

    Comment number 287.

    I'm afraid thats rubbish. My mother is a pensioner and she is only entitled to £100 a week as she has a private pension of £40 per week. She also gets the winter fuel allowance. Without me she would freeze in the winter.

  • rate this

    Comment number 286.

    @261. mrwobbles

    237. therealist
    You confuse relative and absolute poverty.
    No I understand perfectly well the difference, perhaps you do not understand why relative measures are used?
    Relative measures are used because absolute poverty was eradicated in the UK many years ago with the introduction of the welfare state. In the UK we have income inequality and not poverty.

  • rate this

    Comment number 285.

    LOL, where's the next poverty summit? Greece?...Hypocritical buffoons, when the Chancellor thinks he's 'in poverty' when he doesn't have a first class Rail Ticket...Just pay your TAX George.

  • rate this

    Comment number 284.

    Bet they have a good lunch.

  • rate this

    Comment number 283.

    Dear Mr Cameron
    Please resolve the poverty & distress you're causing at HOME. The Work Capability Assessment is directly causing the most vulnerable over the edge/infront of trains. This may reduce the welfare bill but it isn't really helping anyone.
    Then we can save the rest of the world.
    Thank you.

  • rate this

    Comment number 282.

    To those who think our money is being wasted I suggest you read some of the maligned Andrew Mitchell's speeches where he very sensibly lays down rules for monitoring the efficacy of DFIDs money. If all departments worked like this much could be saved.
    I am not a Tory supporter but their approach to aid is professional and aimed at sensible delivery targets rather than getting the money out!

  • rate this

    Comment number 281.

    @237the realist
    ' We don't have absolute poverty in the UK'

    What we do have in place though is the means to achieve this, the Tory led 'coalition' Remember, starvation is being held off with free food handouts and, rough sleeping by charities. It would also be interesting to see the death toll figures for OAP's who can't afford heating or cooking this winter. How real do you need it to get

  • rate this

    Comment number 280.

    Imagine a third world countries government turned round and said to all the western companies that own factories there that they wanted them to pay a national minimum wage to raise living standards.

    The lovely corporate class of the west would just pull out and move to another country which is happy to support cheap labor.

    Sadly the west's governments are bought and paid by the corporate class.

  • rate this

    Comment number 279.

    8 Minutes ago

    !00% correct -but you are naive it does not suit the Tory sympathetic Press to stick to facts, when eg scaremongering like comparing UK to Greece etc plays so well to the ill informed readers of The Daily Fail and Torygraph. The UK is being given little access to facts but Right Wing mendacious propaganda. Truth hurts, like govt led DEBT forcing penury in UK

  • rate this

    Comment number 278.

    Many politicians of many countries are STILL playing the "colonial guilt" card in order to demand ever-more "aid".

    This endless claim of "victim status" and failure to take ANY responsibility for THEIR OWN demonstrable failures are becoming sickening.

    They DO NOT have a full-time "entitlement" to hold out a begging bowl.

  • rate this

    Comment number 277.

    @274.Weare Just Universaldust
    "UK is in for a CRASH in living standards, which many experts already predict"

    It's not just the UK, parts of Europe already are, many other parts will, US will be the biggest to fall. This debt and banking collapse has all been by design - now the UN and the globalists will try to spin their 'theft' of our lives as 'good for the third world'.


  • rate this

    Comment number 276.

    Ultimately, the world needs an end to unbridled capitalism. It has reached tipping point as Marx predicted.
    When people can't afford to "buy in" to the capitalist dream it doesn't work any more. Ford made a fortune by paying workers such a high wage that they could afford to buy a Ford car!
    The distribution of wealth has become so unfair that we need world socialism, UK would be a good start! .

  • Comment number 275.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 274.

    235.Andrew James
    The UK is one of the richest countries in the world.

    Oh please, what fiction do you base that upon.

    The UK OWES over £7 TRILLION in total, this works out at national debt of over £110,000 for EVERY person in UK.

    We are the MOST endebted country in the world & its NOT getting any better, UK is in for a CRASH in living standards, which many experts already predict

  • rate this

    Comment number 273.

    I have lived and worked in Angola and have seen the real poverty, the hardship and the ever present fear of their farmworkers or children finding a landmine. Hunger is ubiquitous, yet they do not regard themselves as living in poverty.

    Poverty in the UK is measured on a very different scale.

  • rate this

    Comment number 272.

    Ironic or what!!!! Mr Cameron is causing widespread poverty within the UK for millions and he has the cheek to host a meeting of leaders on poverty! The only thing preventing the elimination of poverty worldwide is the lack of political will. This will never happen until the political systems are taken back from the rich and big business and made to work for ordinary people.


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