World

Ban Ki-moon says UN millennium goals 'can be met'

  • 20 September 2010
  • From the section World

The Millennium Development Goals can still be met if enough work is done, the UN secretary general has said.

Ban Ki-moon urged world leaders meeting in New York to stick to the task despite the global downturn, insisting they could be achieved by 2015.

But French President Nicolas Sarkozy said new funds had to be found to meet the goals - suggesting a tax be imposed on financial transactions.

More than 140 leaders are meeting to review progress toward the targets.

Created in 2000, the eight goals aim to reduce poverty and hunger and improve health standards around the world.

The UN itself concedes that it will be difficult, if not impossible, to meet some of the targets.

In his opening speech to delegates, Mr Ban insisted the goals had led to "more development success stories than ever before", and had had a "transformative impact".

But he acknowledged that there was scepticism that the targets could be met, amid a global economic downturn that is putting pressure on aid budgets in rich countries and slowing growth in poorer ones.

He said "the clock is ticking" and there was much more to do if the goals were to be met by the 2015 deadline.

"Being true [to the Millennium Development Goals] means supporting the vulnerable despite the economic crisis," he told the summit.

"We should not balance budgets on the backs of the poor. We must not draw back from official developmental assistance, a lifeline of billions for billions."

In response, Mr Sarkozy said France would increase its contribution to the global fund to fight Aids, tuberculosis and malaria by 20% over the next three years. And he urged other developed countries to do the same.

He said that despite the economic downturn new sources of funding must be found to help the developed countries meet their obligations - such as the imposition of a small tax on financial transactions.

In an interview with the BBC, one of the architects of the goals, development economist Jeffrey Sachs, castigated rich countries for failing to do enough to make sure the goals were met.

He said they had consistently failed to live up to their pledges on aid and dismissed suggestions that economic recession was affecting governments' capability to live up to their promises.

"High-income countries have spent trillions of dollars on war and unfortunately they just haven't sufficiently invested in peace yet," Professor Sachs said.

"I think it's not really a question of whether they have the money, it's a question of how they use it."

US President Barack Obama is due to address the summit at the UN's headquarters in New York on Wednesday.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao are among the other leaders at the meeting.

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