Thursday, 29 May 2003
Dáil Eireann Debate
21. Mr. Sherlock asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the progress being made on the achievement of the millennium development goals in terms of commitments, pledges and expenditure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14768/03]
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Cowen): At its meeting in September 2000, the UN Millennium Summit adopted the millennium declaration which included eight millennium development goals. The goals commit the international community to achieving a number of poverty-reducing development targets by 2015. The over-arching target is to reduce the proportion of people living on less than $1 per day to half the 1990 level by 2015.
The international conference on financing for development, which was held in Monterrey in Mexico in March 2001, adopted the Monterrey consensus. The conference examined all possible sources of development finance, including domestic savings, trade flows, overseas development assistance, debt relief and foreign direct investment, that could be mobilised in support of the achievement of the millennium goals. A number of significant financial pledges were made by donors at Monterrey. The EU announced that its member states would increase their development assistance to an average of 0.39% of the EU's gross national income, from the 2002 average of 0.33%. The European Commission estimates that the fulfilment of this commitment will increase the EU's ODA by €8 billion per year by 2006. The United States pledged to increase its core assistance to developing countries by 50% between 2002 and 2005, resulting in a $5 billion annual increase over the 2002 level of $10 billion, to a level of $15 billion per year by 2006. Other donors such as Canada and Switzerland pledged significant increases in their ODA.
At its meeting on 20 May 2003, the EU General Affairs and External Relations Council discussed the Union's follow-up to the commitments made at Monterrey on the basis of a comprehensive report prepared by the Commission. In relation to the commitment on ODA, the Commission concluded that the trend in the EU is positive. In 2002, eight member states, including Ireland, had already met the target of spending 0.33% of their GNI on overseas development assistance. Ten member states will reach this objective in 2003. In addition, a dialogue has opened with the accession states about their plans to increase their ODA levels.
The UN General Assembly has asked the Secretary General to prepare an annual report on the progress achieved towards the implementation of the millennium declaration, including progress towards the millennium development goals. The annual reports will focus on specific themes in the years up to 2005, when the Secretary General will present a comprehensive progress report covering all aspects of the millennium declaration. The 2002 report of the Secretary General indicated that the prospects for meeting the millennium development goals are mixed. While progress in Asia has been sufficient to reach all or many of the goals, much of sub-Saharan Africa is hardly advancing, or even falling back. The 2003 World Bank development indicators show that the number of people living in absolute poverty in sub-Saharan Africa rose from 241 million in 1990 to 315 million in 1999 and could reach 404 million by 2015.
On current trends, therefore, it seems that the millennium development goals could largely be achieved by 2015. This success, however, would reflect reductions in the number of poor people in Asia and Latin America but not in Africa. The UN and the World Bank have concluded that achieving the goals in sub-Saharan Africa will require an increase in growth rates in the region up to 7% per annum, increased ODA targeted on countries committed to good governance and sound economic management, greater international support for the fight against HIV-AIDS and other infectious diseases and increased involvement by these countries in the international trade system.
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